How Safari in iOS 15 Works with a New One-Handed Design


One of the major changes coming with iOS 15 is a totally redesigned Safari. The brand new browser aims to make it easier to use with one hand as it moves the search bar / tab down, introduces customizable tab groups, a new start page, and more. Let’s see how the new Safari works in iOS 15.

The new Safari is coming iPhone, iPad, as well as Mac with macOS Monterey. Apple says two of its goals with the new Safari in iOS 15 were to make “controls easier to reach with one hand” and to put “content first”.

There is no doubt that it will take some getting used to because there is muscle memory to rewrite here. However, during the beta cycle, Apple added an option to revert to the classic iOS Safari design.

iOS 15 is currently available in public and developer beta with the official release scheduled for fall 2021.

How the all-new Safari works in iOS 15

*Updated from iOS 15 beta 6*

New layout and basic navigation

  • You will immediately notice the new URL bar / search / tab at the bottom of Safari (follow here for how to get back to an address / top search bar)
  • When you swipe on a web page, the tab bar collapses at the bottom of the app
  • Swipe up or tap down to reappear the tab bar
  • Hit the reload button or drop down from the top of many websites to refresh the pages
  • The same button bar from iOS 14 and earlier versions is present with the new bottom bar or classic top bar design
 How Safari in iOS 15 works layout and navigation - press the search bar or swipe up on the tab bar, then tap the + icon to open a new one
  • To navigate to another website or start a new search, tap a website URL, swipe up on the tab bar> tap +, or swipe the search bar of your last open tab from right to left

Swipe between Safari tabs

  • If you’ve only opened one Safari page and swipe right to left in the tab bar, you’ll open a new start page (also works on your last open tab)
  • Slide seamlessly between multiple Safari tabs by swiping left and right on the tab bar
 How Safari works in iOS 15 - swipe search / dbar 'tabs to open a new page or switch between open tabs

Tabs, tab groups, and private browsing

  • Access Safari tabs by tapping on the double square icon or simply swiping up on the tab bar
  • You can search for tabs at the top, press / hold + drag tabs to rearrange them
  • Add a new tab at the bottom left with the + icon, or a Tabs tab at the bottom middle to customize the tab groups
  • Tap a tab or choose Done in the lower right corner to exit Tab view
  • Another change here is that the X for closing tabs has moved from top left to top right
 How does Safari work in iOS 15 - swipe up on the tab bar or tap the two-square icon to see all tabs and create tab groups
  • To create a custom tab group, tap X tabs at the bottom middle of the tabs screen (this is also where private browsing resides now)
  • Choose New Empty Tab Group or New Tab Group from X Tabs
  • Name your tab group, press OK

Bookmarks, history, playlist and personalized start page

  • To access your bookmarks, history, and reading list, tap the book icon in the bottom menu bar, then tap between the three tabs
  • To customize your Safari start page
    • Open a blank Safari page (tap both square icons> tap the + icon in the bottom corner)
    • Swipe all the way down and tap Edit
  • You can rearrange the sections, activate / deactivate them
  • And a fun option is the ability to set a start page background image with iOS 15 (first came with macOS Big Sur)
 How Safari works in iOS 15 - customize start page by sliding down and pressing edit


Another handy change coming to Safari for iOS 15 / iPadOS 15 is extension support. We’ll probably start to see developers building early support for this over the summer and many will be ready to go for public launch in the fall.

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