October 18, 2021

iOS 15 Spotlight Improvements: Rich Results, Web Images, Photos Search, Lock Screen Access and More – MacRumors

Apple in iOS 15 is making several improvements to Spotlight, aka the universal search feature that can be accessed on the iPhone or iPad‘s Home Screen with a downward swipe.

ios 15 spotlight search feature
Spotlight is a one-stop resource for accessing everything you might want to find on an iOS device, and in ‌iOS 15‌, it’s better than ever. This guide highlights all of the new features that are coming to Spotlight with Apple’s latest update.

Rich Search Results

Apple’s Siri knowledge database has been expanded and the Spotlight feature now supports rich search results, so you can get more information than before directly from the Spotlight interface.

ios 15 spotlight rich results actors

ios 15 spotlight rich results actors

If you search for a movie or a TV show, for example, and then tap on the result, you’ll see information like how you can watch the show, the actors, trailers, seasons, links to the TV app, Messages discussions you’ve had about the content, ‌Siri‌ suggested search results, and more.

With iOS 14, a search such as this brings up a much more limited range of information, typically limited to a web search.

ios 15 rich results contacts siri

ios 15 rich results contacts siri

Rich search results work for all kinds of search topics, including contacts, actors, musicians, movies, and TV shows. With contacts, it will bring up a full contact card with Message interactions, shared links, Wallet transactions,
Find My location, photos from apps, and emails in addition to the standard contact info, making the Spotlight search much more informative.

Spotlight can be used to search for images on the web. So, for example, if you type “cat images” into the Spotlight search interface, Spotlight will now provide a selection of the most popular web images.

ios 15 spotlight images search

ios 15 spotlight images search

Tapping into an image will show you additional images related to the image you tapped, and you can continue tapping through images to find just what you’re looking for.

ios 15 spotlight images search 2

ios 15 spotlight images search 2

The web images search feature can be used to find pictures of people, animals, plants, landmarks, monuments, and more. It doesn’t work for every search, but for most topics, just adding an “images” to the search is a quick way to bring up image web results.

ios 15 spotlight images search type

ios 15 spotlight images search type

In addition to searching the web for images, Spotlight can also now look for specific pictures in your own photo library. When you search for “cat photos” or “dog photos,” for example, Spotlight surfaces the photos that are stored on your device in the “Photos From Apps” section.

ios 15 spotlight photos search

ios 15 spotlight photos search

If you tap into a search, you can see additional search results, and there’s also an option to open up the ‌Photos‌ app to see all the photos that are relevant to the search.

You can search through your Photo Library in Spotlight by location, people, scenes, and specific objects that are in the photos like a pet or a plant.

‌Photos‌ that were shared with you through the Messages app can be found in Spotlight by using a contact name in the search.

If you swipe downward on the Lock Screen of the ‌iPhone‌, you can get to the Spotlight search interface without having to unlock the ‌iPhone‌.

ios 15 spotlight lock screen search

ios 15 spotlight lock screen search

A Spotlight search conducted while the ‌iPhone‌ is locked does not bring up personal information like your own photos, text messages, and contacts, focusing instead on general content from the web, ‌Siri‌ Knowledge, News, Stocks, dictionary, and more.

All personalized results only come up when the ‌iPhone‌ is unlocked, so if someone gets ahold of your ‌iPhone‌, they can use it for search purposes but will not be able to see your info.

App Searches

App Store searches have been improved in ‌iOS 15‌, and if you search for an app that you want to use, you can now install it right from Spotlight without leaving the Spotlight search interface.

ios 15 install apps from spotlight

ios 15 install apps from spotlight

Maps Spotlight Search Improvements

If you search for a business that supports Apple’s App Clips feature, you can see action buttons on the Maps result in Spotlight. You can do things like access menus or tickets, see reservations, make an appointment, order takeout or delivery, see waitlist and showtime information, get parking details, and more.

app clip maps spotlight button ios 15

app clip maps spotlight button ios 15

Spotlight Search Warnings

As part of a suite of Child Safety features, Apple is expanding guidance for ‌Siri‌ and Spotlight that will offer resources to help children stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations.

If a user searches for topics related to Child Sexual Abuse Material, for example, Apple will offer interventions that will explain to users that interest in this topic is harmful and problematic, offering resources on ways to get help.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about the new Spotlight features in ‌iOS 15‌, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

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