Finally, we spotted iOS 16 during Apple’s live WWDC broadcast. And by “looking,” I mean, “a quick list of new features with little context.” Yeah, Apple was throwing everything in the wall this year, and only some of it got stuck. But the good thing is really good.
Let me break a few hearts really fast; the original iPhone SE, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 will not receive an iOS 16 update. If you are currently using one of these smartphones, I recommend an upgrade.
Note: Along with iOS 16, Apple used part of WWDC to announce the M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro and the new generation of CarPlay.
Brand new lock screen
Apple has introduced deep home screen modifications with iOS 14. But the lock screen hasn’t changed much. That’s why iOS 16 lets you customize your home screen with built-in photo editors, widgets, optional fonts, and hot-swaps for your favorite backgrounds.
Customizing the iOS 16 lock screen is easy. Just tap and hold the screen, enter “Editor” and swipe to try out different preset styles automatically generated by your iPhone. Some styles can change the color of your image, set the subject to a colored background, or improve the font of your lock.
If you want a deeper customization, simply click on the element in the editor. You can add widgets, change colors or even transfer the subject of your photo hours ago for a “3D” effect. I’m amazed at how much power Apple has built into this editor, although of course we’ll have to see if it pays off.
Apple also allows you to set an animated weather view as your background. It’s a good idea, though I can’t help but wonder how it will affect battery life. Apple is at least doing something with Dark Sky, a weather app it acquired (and downloaded from Android) a few years ago.
In particular, you can program a lot of lock screens and select them on the fly. Apple has even integrated a lock screen customization into Focus – you can set up a “work” lock screen, for example, that includes calendar or temperature widgets.
Improved alerts, sort of
Notifications on iOS are still pretty clumsy. But with the iOS 16 update, I think they’re a little less nervous. Apple hasn’t spent too much time on its “notification enhancements,” although it sounds a bit useful.
First, notifications now overlap from the bottom of the lock screen. Your luxurious personalized lock screen won’t be flooded with alerts – I don’t know if I would call it a “fix” because it’s like pushing all your dirty laundry under the bed.
Other notification updates are a bit more useful. You can now hide notifications without deleting them, so if you want to get rid of all these email notifications without forgetting to actually see your inbox, you’re in for a treat.
Apple’s new “Live Activities” feature takes things one step further. Apps that typically send you lots of notifications, such as sports or exercise tracking apps, can now create real-time notification widgets. Let’s see if third-party developers actually use this feature.
Focus mode is further enhanced
Apple’s focus mode is one of the features that sounds useful until you actually turn it on. Defining obstacles is difficult, especially when you are at work and would like to really prefer a nice dose of procrastination. But small improvements could make Focus more impressive. Or at least more “absorbing”.
Focus settings can now be extended to your iPhone’s lock screen. Therefore, if you program your own lock screen with a suitable background and widgets that are useful for work, it will automatically turn on when you enable the “Work” focus mode. It also works for “Do Not Disturb”, “Sleep” and so on.
More importantly, Focus rules can now apply to messages, emails and Safari cards. If you want to hide personal texts at work (or hide work texts outside of hours), just program it in Focus mode.
Apple says it extends Focus support to third-party API applications. But developers need to accept this API – we’ll see how it goes.
Messages get the three “most requested” features
Oh yes, News is finally getting its most sought after features! I don’t mean RCS support, but some relatively great things that should keep you from getting embarrassed on Saturday night.
In iOS 16, you can press and hold to delete a message or make a quick edit. Apple hasn’t explained anything about the privacy or legal issues behind these features (such as what happens when an abuser deletes violent messages), but it’s still a good idea to have access to these features when texting.
In iOS 16, you can also mark conversations as “unread,” which should keep you from forgetting to reply. These are the three “most requested” features – cancel sending, edit and mark as unread.
But iOS 16 contains some extra tricks. There is improved dictation support that allows you to write and speak at the same time, plus improved Share with you support for third-party applications and articles.
Apple is also expanding SharePlay to News. Previously, SharePlay allowed you to enjoy music or movies with friends in FaceTime. You can now use this feature to sync and share content while composing text messages.
Live text and visual search will blow my mind
With the introduction of Live Text, Apple has made it possible to copy and paste text from images or even translate image content without annoying applications. But iOS 16 takes Live Text (and its companion, Visual Lookup) to stunning new levels.
Can you say I’m excited? Live text now works with videos. For example, you can pause a coding tutorial on YouTube and copy content on the screen immediately. I imagine this feature will be more useful on a Mac (in the upcoming macOS Ventura), but it should also come in handy on the iPhone – you may want to copy the link or address from the video.
Here’s what’s really impressive; The Visual Lookup tool, which can identify the subject of an image, now allows you to copy objects from photographic backgrounds. In an example provided by Apple, an iPhone user presses and holds a photo of a dog, clicks “copy,” and pastes a picture of that dog (with transparent backgroundattention) in the Reports.
I’m not sure what magic of artificial intelligence Apple works here, but it’s really great.
Apple Wallet and Apple Pay are weird
Apple Wallet supports government-issued IDs, but very few state governments (specifically Arizona and Maryland) actually accept these IDs. Still, Apple is looking for ways to take advantage of this feature.
In iOS 16, you can share ID information with applications like UberEats. It’s a quick and easy way to verify your age when ordering alcohol, and Apple says it’s super safe. Apple Wallet will only share information that really matters (and that you allow), such as your age.
In addition, iOS 16 allows you to share “keys” via messages. Some hotels allow you to keep the keys to the wallet in the Wallet, so this feature makes sense. Although you can’t send these keys to Android users, Apple says it’s working to make the keys a standard feature on all relevant devices.
You already know about pay-per-click, an upcoming iOS feature that allows small businesses to turn their iPhone into a POS station without any extra crap (like those square dice). But Apple Pay will also get some weird new features in iOS 16.
First, and it seems to be quite useful, is tracking Apple Pay orders. Services like Shopify will now send shipment updates via Apple Pay, saving you control over your inbox.
And for those who like to buy things they can’t afford, there’s the Apple Pay Later. You can divide the cost of purchasing Apple Pay into four equal payments with zero interest and “no fees of any kind.” It sounds too good to be true, because it’s just a “Buy now, pay later” lender from Apple.
Extra safety tools for adults and children
Some people like to share their location and accounts with other iPhone users, usually close friends, family, and other important people. But what happens when you need to revoke someone’s access? Well, iOS 16 has a new Safety Check feature that helps you quickly audit and revoke private access without having to go through any rigamarole.
In the words of Apple, Safety Check is primarily a tool for victims of abuse. It seems to be quite effective in your work – you can cancel your account and access to the location each Press or individually to end access to certain applications or features. In addition, you can quickly check who has access to something, eliminating the confusion of previous Apple systems.
Parents will also get some pretty neat features in iOS 16. It is now easier to set up an account for children, and the sliding scale allows you to enforce parental controls with minimal effort. The new Family Checklist also provides you with useful tips and reminds you to update your parental control settings as your child gets older (something they will definitely appreciate).
And for households that enforce screen time, you can now approve or reject screen time requests in the News. No more searching Settings just to give your baby an extra 15 minutes Minecraft.
Create a photo album on iCloud with family or friends
Everyone in your family takes different photos, and you should share these photos. If you can’t convince everyone to use Google Photos that have a shared album feature, then iOS 16 will alleviate your problem a bit.
Family or friends can set up shared photo libraries in iOS 16. This feature is exactly what it sounds like – you can upload pictures to a shared library! These images appear in your memories and live in your iCloud account.
Now there are some automatic things that could get you in trouble. A new button in the Camera application allows you to automatically upload new images to a shared library, for example. And depending on how you set things up, photos will be uploaded automatically when you’re close to family or friends who share a library. (So if everyone comes to cooking, their pictures can be automatically uploaded to the shared library.)
Home gets an update before running Matter
After years of stagnation, Apple Home has finally undergone a huge overhaul. Rooms and Favorites now appear on the main screen of your Home application, and a number of tabs allow you to control device categories, such as lights or security products.
Clicking on one of these categories will display all included smart home devices that are separated by a room so that your brain doesn’t break. And when you open the cameras, Home can show you up to four live channels at once.
This redesign seems to have been inspired by Matter, the upcoming smart home standard that will eliminate incompatibilities between different smart home products. Basically, if two products support Matter, they will work together. Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung and other major players have contributed to this standard, which should be launched by the end of 2022.
But I have to mention something quickly. Apple suggested that he invented Matter during WWDC, and so argued a bit that Matter was based on HomeKit. While I’m sure the HomeKit code is inside the Matter, the new smart home standard is actually based on Thread.