Apple's iOS 15.2 update: How to download, new features and more

The newest OS for iPhones and iPads gets a tune-up with the arrival of iOS 15.2.1.

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iOS 15.2 brings new Apple Music and privacy features to your iPhone.

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Apple released the latest version of its iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 15.2, in December with a hefty collection of updates and new features, and now iOS 15.2.1 has arrived to bring minor fixes to the OS. This includes plugs for Homekit security vulnerabilities and corrections to issues on iPhones that prevent messages from loading when sent with an iCloud link, among other things. 

iOS 15.2 is the first major update to Apple's software since iOS 15.1, which brought features like FaceTime SharePlay and ProRes support to the iPhone. The iOS 15.2 update now adds features like Macro Control to the iPhone 13 and a new Apple Music tier to all iPhone users. 

Here's what we've gathered about iOS 15.2 so far. 

Has iOS 15.2 been released yet?

Yes, Apple released the iOS 15.2 update on Dec. 13. 

How do I download iOS 15.2?

To download the latest update, go to Settings > General > Software Update and select Download and Install. Restart your iPhone once the download is finished to start the installation, and once your phone restarts you'll be on the latest version of iOS.

App Privacy Report

The biggest new feature in iOS 15.2 is the App Privacy Report. This report is intended to help users control who has access to their data. If you've ever looked at your weekly Screen Time reports, the App Privacy Report is similarly organized -- but instead of telling you how much time you've spent in different apps, the report shows what data and sensors each app can access, network activity for those apps and other privacy-related data.

The latest version of the beta also changed the wording of the iCloud Private Relay setting. The option is now listed under Cellular and Wi-Fi settings as Limit IP Address Tracking. It's not a functional change, but the new wording should make it clearer what you can opt into.

Apple Music Voice Plan

A surprise addition to iOS 15.2 is Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier for Apple Music. The Voice Plan tier cuts the subscription price in half -- down to $5 (£5, AU$6) per month -- but it can only be controlled by talking to Siri, not manually through the Apple Music app. Spatial audio and lyrics features won't be available, but you will have access to the full Apple Music catalog.

A new feature, called Play it Again, lets you see what you've recently played so you're not Googling the chorus of a song you just heard because you don't know the song's name.

Apple Music playlist search

If you already have Apple Music, iOS 15.2 now lets you search within a playlist for a song. It's a bit tricky to find at first -- you have to go into a playlist and swipe down from the top of your screen to reveal the search bar above your playlist image. 

Communication safety setting

After delaying the controversial Messages setting, Apple released it as part of iOS 15.2. This Messages setting lets parents enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity. The warnings also show children resources when they receive these photos. While the intent behind the feature has received strong support, privacy experts think the costs of Apple's methods outweigh the benefits

Macro Control for photos

People with an iPhone 13 Pro or Max can now use the ultrawide lens on these models to take close-up photos and videos in 15.2. To turn this on go to Settings, then Camera, and in this menu there's a toggle marked Macro Control. When it's toggled on, you should see a flower icon on your screen when taking a picture. Tap the flower icon when you're close to an object to enter Macro mode.

Greater detail in Apple Maps

Apple Maps will now show road details such as bike lanes, turn lanes, medians and pedestrian crosswalks in supported cities. 

Updates to the Find My feature

The current iOS also brings an update to Apple's Find My feature. The change, reported by MacRumors, allows you to use the Find My app to scan for "Items that Can Track Me," identifying nearby items, such as AirTags, that can send location data. You can then elect to disable the tracking feature on any devices found.

The update has stirred up some controversy because it drags the Find My feature in two conflicting directions. The update appears to be designed to help give people more control of their privacy by preventing unwanted devices from tracking them. However, it also seems to undercut the function of AirTags by potentially giving thieves the ability to shut off tracking of any AirTags on stolen items.

Read moreApple launches AirTags and Find My detector app for Android, in effort to boost privacy

Parts and Service History

The update also lets you see the repair history on your iPhone by going to Settings > General > About > Parts and Service History. The new section will detail any servicing that took place at Apple as well as whether the parts came from Apple or an unknown vendor. However, if you haven't taken your iPhone in for service, the feature won't display.

Other new features in iOS 15.2

The second version of the iOS 15.2 beta added the ability to designate Legacy Contacts as part of Apple's Digital Legacy program. Designating someone a Legacy Contact gives them access to your iCloud account and personal information after your death. 

iCloud Plus subscribers can also use Apple's Hide My Email feature from the Mail app itself, instead of bouncing in and out. The full list of updates can be found on Apple's developer site.

Watch this: iOS 15: How to manually update your iPhone right now