iOS 16 features, info, and more

A features round-up and all the information we have on iOS 16

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Apple has laid out the new iOS 16 features at WWDC, with SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi leading the lowdown. We’ve looked at the new features in and around iOS 16 to get you the key information. Here’s what you need to know.

iOS 16 Lock Screen

We already had rumors about some of the potential features for the lock screen on iOS 16, but this is the “biggest update ever”. So here’s what we’re getting.

Personalization

A whole host of personalization features are coming with iOS 16’s lock screen, starting with images and filters.

Pressing and holding the lock-screen will allow you to choose ‘customize’ and try out styles, filters, backgrounds, and fonts. These will impact how your chosen lock screen image appears.

Tapping an element allows you to edit it too, so you can choose different typefaces and colors specifically for, let’s say, your clock element.

iOS 16 features - design

Wallpapers

Apple has also added a new wallpaper gallery with “hundreds” of wallpapers allowing for “millions of combinations” when edited. The wallpapers include a striking animated weather wallpaper, animated astronomy wallpapers that change when you unlock your phone, and more – including a pride wallpaper and an emoji one.

Users can also make use of iOS 16’s Photo Shuffle option on the lock screen. This will alternate the image appearing.

Or you’ll be able to use the Suggested Photos option: an “intelligently curated” set of personal photos (of friends, family, or nature) which could be good options for your lock screen.

iOS 16 features - widgets

Widgets

As expected, you can now add widgets right onto the lock screen in iOS 16, and you can add several at once. So, for example, you can include calendar notifications, temperature, and activity all on the same lock screen.

It’s one of the most interesting iOS 16 features in terms of usability, as developers can also make use of Apple’s ‘widget kit’ to enable glanceable information from apps…right on the iOS 16 lock screen.

Multiple lock screens

With as much customization as Apple has included, you can also create several lock screens and change between them, seemingly without losing their customization. We don’t yet know of a maximum number of lock screens you can have on standby, but having this option is pretty novel nonetheless.

iOS 16 Notifications

Apple wants to do away with notification blocking personal photos on the lock screen, so iOS 16 features roll-in notifications from the bottom, rather than them appearing from the top-down, creeping across your screen. It looks like two notifications plus an ‘and more’ notification will appear, although you can choose to hide notifications too.

iOS 16 notifications

Live activities

To combat persistent, ongoing, notifications, Apple is introducing ‘Live Activities’ in iOS 16 as “compact and glanceable experiences”.

Live Activities means you can view live sports scores, an arriving Uber (or potentially food delivery), and monitor your ongoing activity progress all on the lock screen. Be gone repeated notifications.

The new feature will also impact playing music, which will appear as a compact or a full-screen display with larger album art; whichever you prefer.

iOS 16 features - live activities

Focus

In iOS 16, Apple also wants to build upon its Focus feature, allowing users to keep distractions to a comfortable level. With the ability to create several lock screens in iOS 16, you’ll be able to link levels of Focus to a particular lock screen depending on the situation.

Building on Focus too is Focus Filters, which will allow users to focus chat conversations, calendar reminders, Safari tabs and Mail messages to specific filters, for work, personal, sleep or do not disturb settings.

iOS 16 Messages

Typos

In the new iteration of iOS, you’ll be able to edit just-sent messages to avoid those cringe-worthy typos you notice only after the fact. We’ve all been there.

Undo Send

But if there’s more wrong with the message than a simple typo, Messages is getting a new Undo Send feature. Yes, an option to recall a message you then decide against, or what Apple calls a “misfire”.

iOS 16 features - Undo Send

Unread

The final tweak to Messages is the ability to mark any thread as unread, should you want to revisit it later and easily find it.

SharePlay

It’ll now be easier to discover SharePlay experiences and supported apps in FaceTime in iOS 16. But SharePlay will now also be available in Messages – something Federighi recalled was the number one request from developers.

In the example given, you can now use SharePlay to share a film from Disney+, while chatting about it in Messages. This means watching it in sync with whoever you’re sharing with, while you have the same access to the share playback controls.

Dictation

For anyone making use of the dictation feature in iOS, 16 will allow you to switch between dictation and keyboard without fuss. The keyboard will remain open while you dictate, so if you need to manually correct or tweak something, or move from speech to touch or vice versa, you can.

iOS 16 Siri

Additionally, you’ll be able to select text with touch and replace that text with your voice instead of having to type.

A further trick for dictation is automatic punctuation on long messages, which also works when using Siri to send messages (as does emoji dictation).

Siri in apps

A quick word on Siri too in iOS 16: thanks to a new developer API, Siri should work with supported apps without any need for set-up.

iOS 16 Live Text

Live Text in Video

Live text is already pretty useful when it comes to photos and iOS 16 is bringing it to video. That means you’ll be able to pause a video and interact with text in it, in the same ways already allowed for photos. 

Live Text Quick Actions

Quick Actions should allow you to convert currency and translate languages on the fly, with easier access to those features on photos in just one or two taps.

Camera View

Apple’s shown that you can use Live Text while in the Translate app using a new Camera View. The idea here is that this is better for when you have a lot of text to translate, so you can quickly translate what’s in front of you…for example a signpost or a menu.

iOS 16 Visual Lookup

Visual Lookup already allows you to select the subject of a photo to find additional information about things like landmarks, pets, plants, etc, but in iOS 16, you’ll be able to touch and hold the subject of a photo.

You can then lift it from the background and into other apps – allowing you to do things like sharing it in apps like Messages, thanks to an advanced machine learning model.

iOS 16 Wallet

iOS 16 features a decent amount of Wallet changes, as Apple’s work on the Wallet app continues: Drivers’ licenses and ID (currently Maryland and Arizona) can be stored inside the app.

Apple has stated that selected TSA (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoints will now accept wallet IDs – although at the time of writing we don’t know which.

ID verification

The Wallet app also supports functionality for users to securely present ID to apps, without the need to provide a scan or photo upload, with only select information shared. This should mean you can protect your birth date if you wish while stating you are “over 21”.

Keys

Wallet also does a decent job of storing keys (for home, hotel, gym, etc). And the sharing of keys should now be easier in Mail, Messages, and WhatsApp, as those receiving a key can add it to their own wallet with one tap of an ‘Add’ icon.

Apple has also revealed it’s working with the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce), to make sharing of keys an industry standard. There’s no word on when cross-ecosystem sharing will be available, but it’s a positive move.

iOS 16 Apple Pay

Starting this month (June 2022) merchants across the United States will be able to offer tap-to-pay services directly on a merchant’s own iPhone. That’s without any additional hardware or terminals needed to receive payment.

Clearly, this is a boost for Apple Pay, and (in theory) less hassle if not less expenditure for merchants too.

Apple Pay Later

Announcing Apple Pay Later, Apple says the feature allows for the cost of a purchase to be split into four equal payments, across six weeks with zero interest and no fees of any kind. The feature is to be available anywhere Apple Pay is accepted too, in apps and online.

After the purchase, upcoming payments will be managed through Wallet for users to keep track of what’s due when – something we think is a pretty essential inclusion for budget management.

Apple Pay Order Tracking

This feature will allow merchants to deliver receipt and tracking information to users, and directly to the Wallet App in iOS 16. Apple says the feature will be available at millions of merchants and ecommerce platforms starting with Shopify.

iOS 16 Maps

Apple’s redesigned map is already available in:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

We now know that later this year the map is also coming to:

  • Belgium
  • France
  • Israel
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Switzerland

Apple’s also adding Las Vegas and six more cities before the end of the year.

Multi-Stop Routing

New for Maps is the ability to plan 15 stops in advance, allowing plenty of flexibility on routes and itineraries if you want to plan everything out beforehand.

Maps will also now store previous routes and recents, making it easier to revisit places and get going quicker. Plus, you can ask Siri to add additional stops while en route, which we can see being very helpful indeed.

Transit

Apple’s making it easier for those using transit options to see fares for the cost of journeys and the option to add transit cards to Wallet for safe storing.

Even more useful, if a transit card’s balance is running out, you’ll get an alert in Maps so you can reload the card without having to leave the app.

Map Kit

Developers can now make use of rich detail map data for use in their own apps. This means apps like those of e-scooter service Bird can include better information with a detailed integrated in-app map.

Apple News My Sports

Apple News is introducing a new section featuring stories from hundreds of the best sports stories, specifically for following your teams and leagues, called My Sports. The section will include scores, schedules, and standings for top professional and college sports leagues – plus highlights.

To personalize the experience, your favorites will be synced across to Apple TV and other Apple devices, with the service available for free in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

There’s now an added benefit to Apple News+ too, with subscribers getting “premium sports coverage from many local newspapers”.

iOS 16 Family Sharing

Easier Parental Controls

Additional iOS 16 features for Family Sharing meaning that it should be easier and simpler to set age-appropriate controls for content and to set up other parental controls – such as location settings and approval of more screen time.

In fact, you can now respond to requests for more screen time inside the Messages app, when Messages detects a request from a child.

Quick Start

A new ‘Quick Start’ feature will allow you to turn on a new device a child will be using, bring your own iPhone nearby and select to set up with Quick Start.

Apple says that with a few taps the device can be set up with all the parental controls you want to be configured from the get-go.

That should mean less having to adjust things later, and make things somewhat more straightforward.

Family Checklist

In iOS 16 there’s a new Family Checklist too, designed to help remind you to update children’s settings as they get older, suggestions for turning on location sharing. Also there’s helpful reminders around the ability to share subscriptions with family members should you wish.

Essentially the tool is designed to help users get the most out of Family Sharing.

iOS 16 Photos

iCloud Shared Photo Library

There’s a new iCloud Shared Photo Library, allowing families to pool their photos instead of missing out on the great shots taken by other members.

The separate iCloud library is designed so that family members can contribute and collaborate. One shared library accessible by up to five people and everyone having equal permissions.

Content in the library will also appear in everyone’s memories, featured photos and be available in the photos widget.

Shared Library Switch

Sharing of photos can be filtered by subject (the people in them) or by start date so you can choose what to share once you set up. But for pictures after set-up, there’s now a shared library switch right in the Camera app.

While the sharing switch can be turned off, Apple states that it can be set up to come on automatically whenever you take photos when other members of the shared library are nearby. Clever switch.

iOS 16 Privacy

Safety Check

Introducing Safety Check as one of the iOS 16 features with clearly important use-cases, Apple reveals it’s been working with organizations that support victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. As a result, Safety Check exists.

The tool allows you to review and easily reset any access to your information or app data that you have granted to others. It also includes a ‘Start Emergency Reset’ feature which will allow those in danger to quickly cut off access for other parties when seeking safety.

Safety Check will stop sharing location with others via FindMy, also resetting system privacy information for all apps. It will also protect access to messages by signing you out of iCloud on all other devices, and restrict Messages and FaceTime to the device you are using.

So that’s it. We’ll be covering more information on the future of iOS just as soon as news comes through to us. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our iOS 16 release date page for the latest updates too.

When Will iOS 16 be released?

We don’t yet have a specific iOS 16 release date, even with WWDC in progress. Apple has stated that a public beta program for testers will be available in July, with a general release later in the year.

How much will iOS 16 cost?

iOS updates don’t cost anything, so the answer to this is that it will be free. However, it won’t be available on some older devices, so the ‘cost’ of getting iOS 16 may be getting a new phone if your current device isn’t getting the update.

Which iPhones will support iOS 16?

The confirmed list of devices supporting iOS 16 is (from newest to oldest):

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8

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Kevin has been a technophile since he first owned a Commodore 64. Then an Amiga….progressing to Gameboy, self-built systems, consoles, and a 15-year career in and around computing and technology. Kevin is an all-around tech and gadget enthusiast. He was previously found at such places as Micro Mart, Custom PC, Bit-tech, and PC PRO, then Which? Computing, Den of Geek, and Daily Telegraph. Also WIRED, Hardware Heaven, and KitGuru.

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