During the iOS 15 beta testing process, Apple made a number of changes to the Safari app. Apple started with a radical new design that moved the address bar from the top of the app’s interface and introduced a floating tab bar, but after a slew of complaints, the company went through several redesigns, culminating in the option to completely undo the iOS 15 design.
This guide walks through all of the features added in the iOS 15 Safari app, including those new design options.
Safari used to have a new floating tab design that pushed the address bar and tabs to the bottom of the iPhone interface, but that is no longer the case.
You can change your tab view in the Safari section of the Settings app. The “Tab Bar” option, which is the new design, moves the address bar to the bottom of the Safari interface.
The Safari interface has a dedicated control bar at the bottom, as well as an integrated tab bar and address bar above it. You can switch tabs by swiping left and right or tap the bar to search or type in a new URL. Forward/back, share tools, bookmarking tools, and tabs are all accessible from the dedicated control bar, which was added in a later iOS 15 beta.
By tapping the Aa, you can access webpage settings or reload a page by tapping the reload button. When you scroll through a webpage with this Tab Bar interface, the entire Tab Bar collapses so you can see more of the website. With a tap, you can bring it back up.
The address bar and tabs will remain at the top of the Safari window if you select “Single Tab” instead of “Tab Bar,” which is how iOS 14 works. The Single Tab option retains the same design as iOS 14, with the same control bar at the bottom of the interface. The Single Tab interface does not allow you to swipe through tabs; instead, you must use the Tab Switcher.
By tapping the “Aa” button next to any URL, you can switch between the bottom Tab Bar and the Single Tab interface.
Allow Website Tinting, found in the Settings app, tints the collapsed Safari address bar interface to match the website’s colors, making it blend in better with the background.
Website tinting activated on left, disabled on the right
This only applies if you’re scrolling through a webpage with the address bar collapsed. The interface adopts the website’s colors at the top and bottom in both Single Tab and Tab Bar modes, with the coloring extending all the way to the iPhone’s status icons.
Landscape Tab Bar
When you use your iPhone in landscape mode with Safari and enable the Landscape Tab Bar setting, you’ll see a Mac-style tab bar that shows all of your open tabs and allows you to swipe through them.
Pull to Refresh
A downward swipe on any webpage in iOS 15 will refresh the page, and this is an alternative to having to tap on the reload icon.
Tabs in iOS 15 can be saved into Tab Groups, which offers a way to preserve a set of tabs you have open without having to have those tabs active.
If you’re planning a trip, for example, you can save all of your tabs into a “Vacation” group, then access them as needed while leaving your device free for other content. If you have a set of websites that you visit frequently for work, you can save them in a Tab Group.
Simply open all of the websites you want to include, tap the Tabs button with the down arrow, and then tap New Tab Group from [#] Tabs to create a Tab Group. This option can also be used to create a New Empty Tab Group to which tabs can be added later. To add a tab to a Tab Group, long-press it (or the main address bar if you’re using the single tab view).
To open a Tab Group, press the Tabs button, then select the group’s name from the list. All of your Tab Groups are synced across all of your devices, allowing you to access them on iPhones and iPads running iOS and iPadOS 15, as well as Macs running macOS Monterey.
Tab Overview Grid
In iOS 14, all of your open tabs are displayed in a card-like interface that you can swipe through, but in iOS 15, open tabs are displayed in a grid view.
You can tap on the tab button (which is two overlapping squares) to bring up the grid interface that shows all of your open tabs. Tapping on the “X” in the corner of any tab closes it.
Customizable Start Page
Safari is more customizable in iOS 15, and you can edit what’s available on your start page. This is a feature that has been available on macOS but is now also available on iOS devices.
Open a new, blank tab, scroll to the bottom of the window, and tap the “Edit” button to customize the start page.
Favorites, Frequently Visited Sites, Shared With You content, Privacy Report information, Siri Suggestions, Reading List, and iCloud Tabs are all options for the start page.
There’s a toggle to upload your own background image, as well as the option to use the same Start Page appearance across all devices.
Intelligent Tracking Prevention Improvements
Trackers can no longer access your IP address to build a profile on you thanks to updates to Intelligent Tracking Prevention, a feature that prevents websites from tracking your web activity.
Safari in iOS 15 automatically upgrades sites that are known to support HTTPS from HTTP, which is insecure.
iCloud Private Relay
The iCloud Private Relay feature ensures that all of your Safari traffic is encrypted.
By utilizing two separate internet relays, iCloud Private Relay protects your IP address and de-links it from the websites you visit.
All web traffic is routed through iCloud Private Relay to an Apple-managed server, where information such as IP addresses is stripped out. After the information is removed, the traffic (your DNS request) is sent to a secondary server run by a third-party company, where it is given a temporary IP address before being sent to its destination.
iCloud Private Relay prevents anyone, including Apple, from determining a user’s identity and linking it to the website the user is visiting by using a two-step process that involves both an Apple server and a third-party server.
With this system, Apple knows your IP address and the third-party partner knows the site you’re visiting; however, because the information is de-linked, neither Apple nor the partner company, nor the website you’re browsing, have a complete picture of the site you’re visiting and your location. Websites typically have access to this information and can use it in conjunction with cookies to create a profile of your preferences.
Safari in iOS 15 supports web extensions, with web extensions able to be downloaded and installed through the App Store. Available extensions include content blockers, VPNs, and more.
iPhones and iPads running iOS 15 can now use a new Live Text feature to detect text in any image, including images found in Safari.
Any text-containing Safari image can be selected, copied, pasted, and translated. In Safari, long-press any image and then tap “Show Text.” to use Live Text. You can then select the text and interact with it as you would with any other text on your iPhone.
Shared With You
A new option on the Safari start page called Shared With You collects all of the links you’ve received in the Messages app and other social networking apps that support the Shared With You feature.
This new section is intended to ensure that you don’t miss any links you’ve been sent, as well as to let you know who sent you the link so you can respond with your thoughts.