What Happened to Those iOS 15 Features Apple Promised Us?

Good news: They’re being held back until they’re ready

Key Takeaways

  • Apple now releases major new features when they’re ready, not before.
  • Despite online complaints, most people don’t seem to care.
  • iOS 15.1 looks like it will bring most, but not all, of these missing features.
iOS 15 and new features on iPhone


In June, Apple detailed the significant new features coming to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, but some of those features have not yet materialized. What happened?

SharePlay, Universal Control, Legacy Contacts, App Privacy Report, and iCloud Private Relay are among the features announced at WWDC that still haven't' shipped. Some of these are implemented as betas in the current version of iOS 15, some are still in testing in iOS 15.1 betas, and others are just MIA. 

"Staggering feature releases over the lifetime of an iOS update helps maintain software quality," cybersecurity specialist and ethical hacker Isla Sibanda told Lifewire via email. "Even though iOS 15 is now accessible to everyone, several of the features revealed at WWDC have been pushed back to a later release, [and] we can assume it's because they're not ready for launch." 


It used to be that Apple would shove an iOS release out the door, all features intact, whether it was ready or not. Part of this was almost certainly because Apple ties its major iOS updates to coincide with iPhone launches. So, if the iPhone has a new feature that needs the new OS to make it work, then the new OS is launching, no matter what. 

Over the past few years, Apple changed its approach. Now, features are released when they are ready. Instead of dumping them all into a rushed initial release in September or October, Apple staggers the new features over the next few months or longer.

This has a few advantages. One is that the features are done and work properly. Taking time to iron out the bugs means higher-quality releases. After the debacle of the iOS 13 launch, which caused so many problems that even regular, non-nerdy, non-tech-news following users were put off trusting Apple's day-one updates. This is an essential change of pace. 

Take the new Universal Control feature. This lets you push your Mac's cursor off the side of the screen, only to have it pop up on a nearby iPad or another Mac, and control that. It's typical Apple, a neat feature implemented with whimsy and yet utterly functional. But for something like Universal Control to work, it has to be perfect. You have to trust that it will kick in 100% of the time, or you'll give up and go back to separate keyboards and trackpads. 

That may be why Universal Control didn't show up in early iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey betas, and even now is still disabled. This is a great sign. Even though Universal Control was Apple's flashiest demo at WWDC, it's still being held back.

And who cares, really? Every year, the tech blogs whine that iOS, or the iPhone, or whatever, has stagnated and that the latest hardware or software release is boring. Meanwhile, everybody keeps buying and enjoying Apple products.

"Some of the smaller features may not be as noticeable but will definitely be missed by enthusiasts and Apple fans," says Sibanda. 

In fact, spreading out the new features lets Apple milk more out of them. Every new release comes with a publicity bump in the press, and users get to enjoy a steady trickle of well-implemented and polished new tricks every once in a while, instead of the usual deluge of confusion. 

A screenshot from iPadOS 15.

State Of Play

How are these features coming along? As mentioned above, Universal Control is still in testing and doesn’t look like it will make it onto the upcoming iOS 15.1 release (I’m running the beta, and it’s not there yet).

SharePlay is another banner feature. It lets you share your iOS device’s screen with a caller, but also allows a group of friends to watch a TV show or movie together, all synced up as if you really were together. Currently, SharePlay looks set for iOS 15.1. 

Other features set to arrive in iOS 15 are COVID vaccination passes in the Wallet app, ProRes video for the iPhone 13 Pro, and the ability to switch off automatic toggling of the macro mode in the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera app. 

As for the others, we’ll have to wait and see. And these days, sometimes we see brand new, big-deal features that weren’t even announced at WWDC. Remember the amazing mouse pointer support that Apple added midway through iOS 14’s life to support the new Magic Keyboard case? Let’s hope for more midterm surprises like that.

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