Spotlight is getting a lot more useful in iOS 15, with new items that you can search for and also new intelligence behind your search.
The first most visual difference in Spotlight in iOS 15 is that it opens with two rows of app suggestions. Swipe down from the center of any home page on your iPhone and you will now get eight suggested apps.
As before, the suggestions are far from random. They are based on what you use the most and also when you use it. So the chances that the app you need will be on the list are higher than ever.
It’s just that this is far from the only useful thing that Spotlight does on the iPhone.
How to install apps from Spotlight
- Swipe down to open Spotlight
- Start typing the name of an application
- If it is not installed yet, you will get a link to the App Store
- Tap on that and you will be installing the app right away
This also works if you previously purchased a version of the app and removed it. You then have the option to download again, but otherwise the process is the same.
It’s not a huge time saver, but it is. Instead of opening the App Store, typing in what you want, and going through other similar-sounding apps that somehow rank first on the list, you can go straight to what you need.
You need to know the name of the app you want, but if you don’t, there is still a slightly faster alternative to how it used to work. Type a description of an app, then scroll right to the bottom of the Spotlight results list and you will find Search the app store.
How to remove apps using Spotlight
- Open Spotlight and start typing the name of an application
- When it appears, press and hold the app icon
- Choose Remove app
- Faucet Erase to confirm
This also works with apps that Spotlight has suggested that you might want to use next.
However, there is a seemingly protracted bug in iOS. You are unlikely to see this, but some users find that Spotlight cannot find an app even when it is installed.
Instead you get a listing from the app store, maybe for the developer’s website, but not the app you already have. It’s a pretty rare bug that predates iOS 14, but if you’ve had it before, apparently iOS 15 does. not fix it.
Smarter search in Spotlight
This is sometimes quite subtle, but in general iOS 15 is consistently better at returning the search results you want. Search for, say, a TV show, and the first results may be the same as in iOS 14.
But then you will get a couple of better and deeper links to the details of the online program. One problem is that sometimes it is necessary to type the name of a program and then press Return.
As you type the name, iOS will try to fill it in automatically. At some point, very soon, the name of the program will be correct and it will show an icon for it.
If you tap on that icon, you sometimes get into the Apple TV app with options to find where to watch. If instead you finish typing the name and tap Back, you’ll definitely get a presentation page right there in Spotlight.
It lists where you can watch that show, provides a description plus its first air date, cast, crew, and direct links to different seasons online.
There are also smarter offline searches. That’s because the new Spotlight can also take advantage of the new Live Text.
Open Spotlight and start writing a few words that you remember seeing in a photo. Spotlight should highlight that image among its results.
This is going to require re-training. Depending on when you got your first iPhone, you have always automatically opened the Phone app when you want to find someone or the Contacts app.
It’s the same data, it’s just that Apple introduced a real Contacts app a little after the iPhone came out.
Now you can get the same data, and possibly a bit more, by ignoring the Phone and Contacts apps. Instead, search Spotlight and now you can get a much more complete result.
However, it depends on who you are looking for and what information you have about them.
There is more
Your mileage will vary on this because it depends on the type of events you have on your calendar and which companies you will meet with. Generally speaking, if you type in a company name, you should get details of when their meeting is.
But if your name is the same as that of a movie, good luck with that. Yes, you can end up getting the details of the movie.
However, if that becomes a problem, you may not be able to improve it, but you can prevent it from happening. The new iOS 15 gives you practically ridiculous control over what shows and what doesn’t show in Spotlight.
How to refine Spotlight searches to what you want
- Opened Settings
- Go to Siri and search
- Scroll down further Siri Suggestions to application list
- Touch any app
- Configure your options
You can set whether Spotlight and Siri learn from how you use this app, which might help. You can disable the information that Spotlight and Siri will show you from the app.
There are two options that should be a blessing. Suggest application tends to be on by default, and Suggest application trends to be disabled by default.
You would think that the stage Suggest application a on would resolve the old Spotlight bug not showing you some apps that you have. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
At least not if you are someone who has this rare bug. If everything works for you, you can turn this Suggest application disabled to prevent a particular app from appearing all the time.