One big change to come out of this year’s iPhone 15 launch event is that the mute switch on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max has been replaced by the Action button, which can also perform various additional tasks.
However, we’ve now learned that the full powers of the new button won’t be realized at launch, with at least one feature – translation – not becoming available until “later this year”, according to Apple. (Read our hands-on iPhone 15 Pro review and hands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review for more on the Action button, and the other new features and upgrades.)
When the iPhone 15 Pro makes it into people’s hands its Action button will still be able to do a lot. It can open up the camera app, start recording a voice memo, switch on your iPhone’s flashlight, or turn on accessibility features like the magnifier. And if you want that classic iPhone feeling it can still swap your device between ring and silent, which it does by default. To access any of the options you just have to press and hold the Action button.
Quick-access translation, though, won’t be available right away. In the section introducing the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro page at Apple website there’s an asterisk next to ‘Translate’ in the list of Action button options, and the fine print at the bottom of the page notes that “Translate action is coming in an update later this year.”
Translation is one of the Action button features we were more excited for. While it’s always helpful to pick up at least a few key phrases before you travel somewhere, having easy access to a translation tool is always handy, and it’s also helpful if you need to lend a hand to someone in your home country who isn’t a master of the local language.
Ready, set, Action!
The one silver lining of translate not being an Action button feature right away is that it suggests Apple is already thinking about ways to improve and upgrade the new switch beyond its launch capabilities, which means that we might see other helpful tools tied to the Action button in the near future.
Some we can already think of would be launching a custom app – providing an instant shortcut to your favorite software – or using it to have your phone listen to a song that’s playing to tell you what it is. For now though, we’ll just have to wait and see what Apple has up its sleeve.
If you want to pick up the iPhone 15 Pro or any of the new iPhones, preorders go live on September 15, with the handsets going on sale on September 22 – see our US iPhone preorders and UK iPhone 15 preorders pages for everything you need to know.