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iOS 15 hidden features on iPhone: Here's what Apple didn't tell you

We uncovered new tips and tools we're loving on the iPhone so far.

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Your iPhone is full of hidden features, and that hasn't changed with iOS 15. 

James Martin/CNET

Later this year, your iPhone and iPad are going to receive a big update in the form of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, respectively. The updates include countless new features and changes such as improved privacy tools, a different approach to Do Not Disturb, and FaceTime now works on Android and PCs.

For now, anyone with a compatible iPhone or iPad can sign up for the public beta if you want to start using the new features early. Just remember, it's called a beta for a reason — there are certainly bugs and issues that Apple is working out. 

That said, I've been testing the new operating system since early June, and besides really bad battery life (that MagSafe Battery Pack will be priceless once it arrives), I've really enjoyed the changes. 

Some of the new features, however, are things Apple didn't talk about when iOS 15 was announced. For example, there's a text scanning tool built into the entire OS that makes it dead easy to scan something and import it directly into a text field or document. 

Below is the start of my running list of my favorite hidden features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. I'll keep updating this list as we get closer to the official release, likely in September. 

Now playing: Watch this: We found these amazing features in the iOS 15 beta
17:38

Use your iPhone's camera to scan signs, business cards

Have you ever wished you could point your iPhone's camera at a sign or piece of paper and have it automatically identify then copy the text into an email or a document? With iOS 15, it's possible and incredibly cool. 

To use the iPhone's new scan text tool, long-press inside a text field as if you are going to use the copy and paste prompt. Only, you'll now see a Scan Text button. You may also see a button that uses just the scan icon, which looks like a piece of paper with brackets around it. 

Tap the button, which will then replace your keyboard with your iPhone camera's viewfinder. Point your camera at whatever you want to scan, and then follow the prompts on the screen. For instance, if you're moving the camera too fast, you'll see a "Slow Down" message flash on the screen. 

As you're lining up the camera and text just right, you'll see a live preview of the text your iPhone is identifying and ready to place in your document. Tap the Insert button when you're ready. 

This is a neat and easy way to quickly scan an email address off of a business card, a phone number on a sign or as you can see in the screenshots above, scan the back of a book and insert it as one giant block of text. 

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Apple added a text scanner to the iPhone, no matter what app you're using. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Get real-time rain or snow alerts from the iPhone's weather app

When Apple bought the popular weather app Dark Sky, I immediately hoped that the official iPhone weather app would gain the real-time rain and snow alerts I had come to rely on to keep me dry. Those alerts are making their debut in iOS 15, often arriving a few minutes before Dark Sky's alerts — which is A-OK with me. 

Once you're running iOS 15, you can turn on the new precipitation alerts by opening the Weather app, then tapping the three-line icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Next, tap the circle icon with the three dots in the top-right corner of the screen followed by Notifications

Slide the switch next to My Location to the On position and then tap Done. If you have more cities added to the Weather app, you can also turn on alerts for each one. 

The next time rain or snow is getting close to you, your iPhone will alert you a few minutes before it's going to start. You'll also receive another alert when the rain is almost finished.

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iOS 15 is going to change how you use your iPhone in a lot of ways. 

James Martin/CNET

Drag-and-drop across apps comes to the iPhone

The iPad has long had the ability to drag-and-drop documents, text or pictures between apps. And now, it's the iPhone's turn. If you're going back and forth between Messages and Photos to share pictures from a recent night out with friends, you can now drag-and-drop the from the Photos app to the Messages app, for example. 

To test out the new feature, open the Photos app and view your recent photos. Don't tap on a picture to open it full screen, instead place a finger on the photo and start to drag your finger across the screen. Don't lift your finger when the thumbnail starts to float over the rest of the photos, then switch back to the messages app. 

You'll see a green circle with a + sign in it show up on the thumbnail indicating that you can lift your finger and the photo will be placed in the text field, ready for you to send. 

Pretty easy, right? You can use this same technique to attach a document from the Files app to an email as well. 

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You can view all sorts of information about your pictures in iOS 15. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

View more details about all of the photos on your iPhone

I've always had to use a third-party app if I wanted to view any of the finer details stored in the EXIF data about a photo I was sent or took myself. Now whenever you're viewing a photo in the Photos app, you can swipe up on it to open an information view that will detail where you saved the photo from, as well as all of the EXIF information such as shutter speed, location, the camera used and so on. 

The added information is a welcome addition even if you don't care about all of the finer details. At the very least, being able to see where you saved the picture from (including who sent it to you) is enough. 

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You can adjust text size on a per app basis now. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Change the size of text for specific apps

Currently, you can change the system-wide font size if to fit your preference. But with iOS 15, there's a new tool that lets you change the size of the font on an app-by-app basis. That means you can have a different size font when using the Mail app, and then a different size assigned to the Twitter app. 

To use the new feature, open the Settings app then go to Control Center and scroll down until you find the option labeled Text Size by tapping on the green + sign. 

The next time you're in an app and you want to adjust the size of the text, open Control Center (swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen on an iPhone that has Face ID, or up from the bottom of the screen on an iPhone with Touch ID) and tap on the Text Size button. Slide the button at the bottom of the screen to the left side of the toggle to indicate you only want your changes applied to the app you're currently using, and then adjust the font size up or down. 

There's surely plenty more to discover in iOS 15, so I'll keep tapping, swiping and noting anything I find. In the meantime, here's what you need to do to install iOS 15. Or if you want to check out more of the standout features, we have a running list of those, too.