We finally took a look at iOS 16 during Apple’s WWDC livestream. And by “reputation” I actually mean “a quick telegraph list of new features with little context.” Yes, Apple threw everything on the wall this year and only something got stuck. But it’s a good thing really good.
Let me break some hearts very quickly; the original iPhone SE, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 will not get an update for iOS 16. If you are currently using one of these smartphones, I suggest an upgrade.
Note: With iOS 16, Apple used part of the WWDC to announce the M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, plus a next-generation version of CarPlay.
Brand new lock screen
Apple has introduced deep customizations of the home screen with iOS 14. But the lock screen hasn’t changed much. That’s why iOS 16 lets you personalize your home screen with built-in photo editors, widgets, select fonts, and a hot-swap feature for your favorite wallpapers.
Customizing the iOS 16 lock screen is easy. Just press and hold the screen, enter “Editor” and swipe to try out the different preset styles that your iPhone automatically generates. Some styles can change the color of your image, place an object on a colored background, or impose a font for your lock.
If you want deeper customization, simply tap an item in the editor. You can add widgets, change colors or even put the subject of your photo in front of the clock for a “3D” effect. I’m surprised at how much power Apple has built into this editor, although we will, of course, have to test it practically to see if it pays off.
Apple will also allow you to set an animated time display as wallpaper. It’s a handy idea, though I can’t help but wonder how it will affect battery life. At least Apple is doing something with Dark Sky, the weather app it acquired (and pulled from Android) a few years ago.
In particular, you can program a bunch of lock screens and select them on the go. Apple has even integrated lock screen customizations with Focus — you can set a lock screen “at work,” for example, which includes widgets for calendar or temperature.
Improved notifications, in a way
The notifications on iOS are still pretty weird. But with the update for iOS 16, I guess they become a little less perishable. Apple hasn’t spent too much time on its “notification enhancements,” although they sound somewhat useful.
First, notifications now appear from the bottom of the lock screen, overlapping each other. Your classy personalized lock screen won’t be flooded with notifications – I don’t know if I’d call this a “fix,” because it’s like shoving all your dirty laundry under the bed.
Other notification updates are a little more useful. You can now hide notifications without deleting them, so if you want to get rid of all those notifications via email without forgetting to see your inbox, you’re golden.
Apple’s new Live Activity feature takes things a step further. Apps that would normally send you a bunch of notifications, such as sports tracking or exercise apps, can now build real-time notification notifications. Let’s see if third-party developers really use this feature.
The focus mode becomes even higher
Apple’s focusing mode is one of those features that sounds useful until you actually turn it on. It is difficult to set barriers for yourself, especially when you are at work and you would really rather a nice dose of delay. But small improvements could make the Focus more attractive. Or at least “more immersive”.
Focus settings can now be extended to your iPhone’s lock screen. So, if you program a custom lock screen with the appropriate wallpaper and widgets that are useful for work, it will automatically turn on when you enable the “Focus” mode. This also works for “Do Not Disturb”, “Sleep” and so on.
More importantly, Focus rules can now be applied to Messages, emails and Safari cards. If you want to hide personal texts while you work (or hide work texts while you are not working), just program it in Focus mode.
Apple says it is extending Focus support to third-party applications through APIs. But developers have to accept this API – we’ll see how it goes.
Messages get three “most requested” characteristics
Oh yes, Messages are finally getting their most sought after features! I mean, not RCS support, but some relatively cool things that should keep you from being embarrassed on Saturday night.
In iOS 16, you can press and hold a message to delete it or perform a quick edit. Apple has not explained any of the privacy or legal issues behind these features (such as what happens when an abuser deletes violent messages), but it is still convenient to have access to these features when sending messages.
You can also mark conversations as “unread” in iOS 16, which should keep you from forgetting to answer. These are the three “most requested” features — cancel sending, edit, and mark as unread.
But iOS 16 contains some additional tricks. There is improved support for dictation, which allows you to type and talk at the same time, plus improved support for Share With You for third-party applications and articles.
Apple is also extending SharePlay to messaging. Previously, SharePlay allowed you to enjoy music or movies with friends on FaceTime. You can now use this feature to sync and share content while sending messages.
Live text and visual search 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 any annoying applications. But the iOS 16 update takes Live Text (and its companion, Visual Lookup) to stunning new levels.
Can you say I’m excited? Live Text now works with videos. You can pause the YouTube coding tutorial, for example, and instantly copy the content to the screen. I guess this feature will be more useful on a Mac (in the upcoming macOS Ventura), but it should also be handy on an iPhone — you may want to copy a link or address from a video.
Here’s what’s really impressive; The Visual Lookup tool, which can identify the subject of an image, now allows you to copy subjects from the background of the photo. In the example given by Apple, an iPhone user presses and holds a photo of a dog, touches “copy” and pastes a picture of that dog (with transparent backgroundnote) in Messaging.
I’m not sure what kind of AI magic Apple uses here, but it’s really handy.
Apple Wallet and Apple Pay are getting weird
Apple Wallet supports government-issued IDs, but most governments in very few states (especially Arizona and Maryland) actually accept these IDs in any real capacity. Still, Apple is finding ways to make this feature useful.
In iOS 16, you can share ID information with apps like UberEats. It’s a quick and easy way to check your age when ordering alcohol, and Apple says it’s super safe. Apple Wallet will only share information that is really important (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 door keys in your wallet, so this feature makes sense. While you can’t send these keys to Android users, Apple says it is working to make the keys a standard feature on all relevant devices.
You already know about Tap to Pay, an upcoming iOS feature that allows small businesses to turn their iPhone into a POS station without any add-ons (like those Square Cubes). But Apple Pay will also get some weird new features in iOS 16.
First, and this actually seems quite useful, is Apple Pay Order Tracking. Services like Shopify will now send updates for delivery via Apple Pay, saving you from checking your inbox.
And for those who like to buy things they can’t afford, there’s Apple Pay Later. You can divide the cost of buying Apple Pay into four equal payments with zero interest and “no fees of any kind”. It sounds too good to be true, and that’s because it’s just an “buy now, pay later” lender that supports Apple.
Additional safety tools for adults and children
Some people like to share their locations and accounts with other iPhone users, usually close friends, family, and significant others. But what happens when you need to revoke this approach? Well, iOS 16 has a new security check feature that helps you quickly perform an audit and revoke private access without any rigamarols.
According to Apple, Safety Check is primarily a tool for victims of abuse. It seems pretty efficient in your business – you can revoke your account and access the location everyone by pressing a button or individually terminating access to certain applications or functions. Plus, you can quickly check who has access to what, eliminating the confusion of Apple’s previous systems.
Parents also get some pretty handy features in iOS 16. It’s now easier to set up an account for kids, and a sliding scale allows you to apply parental controls with little effort. The new Family Checklist also gives you helpful tips and reminds you to update your parental control settings as your child gets older (something I’m sure they’ll appreciate).
And for homes that spend time in front of the screen, you can now approve or reject requests for time in front of the screen in Messages. No more digging through the settings just to give your child an extra 15 minutes Minecraft.
Create an iCloud photo album with family or friends
Everyone in your family takes different photos and these photos should be shared. If you can’t convince everyone to use Google Photos, which has 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. The function is exactly as it sounds – you upload images to a shared library! These images appear in your memories and live on your iCloud account.
Here are some automatic things that could get you in trouble. A new button in the camera allows you to automatically send new images to a shared library, for example. 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 cook, their pictures can be automatically uploaded to a shared library.)
The Home App gets updated before Matter’s launch
After years of stagnation, the Apple Home app is finally getting a big redesign. Rooms and Favorites now appear on the main screen of your Home app, and a row of tabs allows you to control device categories, such as lights or security products.
Clicking on one of these card categories displays all the included smart home devices, which are separated by a room so that your brain doesn’t break down. And when you open the cameras, Home can show you up to four live content at once.
This redesign seems to be inspired by Matter, an upcoming smart home standard that will remove incompatibilities between different smart home products. Basically, if two products support Matter, they will work together. Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung and other big players have contributed to this standard, which should be launched before the end of 2022.
But I have to quickly mention something. Apple implied that it invented the Matter during WWDC, and somehow claimed that the 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.