iOS 16 logo

Apple released iOS 16 for the iPhone on September 12, 2022. As usual, this update is free for supported phones. iOS 16 is packed with tweaks that will hopefully change the way you use your iPhone for the better.

A More Dynamic Lock Screen

It’s been a while since Apple has done anything major to the Lock Screen, but that changes with iOS 16. The update will allow you to customize your Lock Screen colors, fonts, and even place and rearrange widgets. In iOS 16 the Lock Screen feels more like an Apple Watch face than a traditional static display.

iOS 16 Lock Screen styles

Apple will even include a Lock Screen gallery that features designs to inspire or download. Like an Apple Watch face, you can switch between different Lock Screens with a tap-and-hold and then swipe. In addition to fonts, a new multilayered photo effect and suggested photos will be suggested, or choose a set of photos to shuffle automatically throughout the day. You can even apply styles so that photos conform to a style of your choosing in a complementary manner.

Widgets are a bit like Watch face complications and include information like your Watch activity rings, weather conditions, a world clock, battery levels for accessories like AirPods, alarms you have set, and more. There’s even a WidgetKit API that third-party apps will be able to use to put information right there on your lock screen.

iOS 16 Widgets

A new Live Activities feature pins what is effectively a notification that updates itself to your lock screen. This allows you to follow live events like sports games or workouts simply by raising your device, complete with an API for developers to use. Notifications in general get a slight boost with bold text and better images, and the Now Playing screen gets a full-screen mode that makes better use of album art.

Finally, you can also change the way Notifications display on your lock screen. Not only are there new animations for a more visually pleasing Lock Screen, but you can also choose from a list view, stack view, and count view, and change the context on the fly. All these features make for a more engaging way to interact with your iPhone without swiping through to your Home screen.

A More Powerful Focus Feature

Focus allows you to remove distractions by delivering notifications silently, muting distracting apps, and letting your contacts know that you’ve snoozed notifications in apps like Messages. iOS 16 expands on the feature set by linking your Lock Screen to your Focus, allowing you to display certain Lock Screens (including designs, widgets, and styles) when specific Focus modes are enabled.

This functionality carries over to the Home screen, allowing you to hide certain apps, or use specific widgets that are useful to whatever Focus mode you have set. Focus filters let you set “boundaries” within apps like Safari and Calendar, which will automatically recall specific tab groups or hide certain calendars depending on what you’re doing.

iOS 16 Focus Home Screen switching

Third-party developers get access to a new Focus filter API, allowing them to build some of these more complex features into their apps. You can also schedule Focus modes in iOS 16, allowing you to do things like enabling your Work focus between certain hours or when you’re in a specific location.

New Messages Features

iOS 16 users will be able to edit or unsend a message (within 15 minutes of sending it) and recover deleted messages (within 30 days of deletion) when chatting with other Apple users via the iMessage platform. You can also mark any message (including SMS) as unread, a long-overdue feature.

Edit Messages iOS 16

Apple is also expanding its SharePlay feature to Messages, allowing you to send invites to synchronized activities like watching movies, working out, or listening to music. You can also send invites to collaborate on projects like Pages documents or Apple Notes with groups of people in a Messages conversation, with collaboration updates automatically posted to the group.

Passkeys Replace (Some) Passwords

Passkeys represent an exciting step towards a password-less future. Apple is rolling the feature out with iOS 16 after a short beta testing period. The technology uses biometric logins via Face ID and Touch ID to completely replace passwords using public and private key cryptography.

Unlike passwords, passkeys are highly resistant to phishing attacks and safe from website leaks since they are unique to your device. They sync via iCloud and provide a simple way of logging in, without having to remember a password or use a password manager. Apple has worked closely with Google and Microsoft on implementing the feature.

The password-less future is right around the corner. Learn more about how this technology works.

Maps Gets Multi-Stop Trips

With iOS 16, you can now add multiple stops to trips you make with Apple Maps, with the ability to plan these trips on your Mac and have it sync to your iPhone.

You can also see any transit cards you have added to your Wallet right inside of maps, and top up if you need to. You’ll also know how much your journey will cost (in some areas, of course) with estimates for transit fares for your trip.

iOS 16 Maps multi-stop trips

Fitness App for All iPhone Users

If you have an Apple Watch you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Fitness app that allows you to track workouts and view your Activity ring progress. In iOS 16, this application will be available to anyone whether or not they have an Apple Watch, with Apple expanding fitness features across the board.

Some Nice Safari Updates

iOS 16 lets you create pinned tabs within Tab Groups, and even share those Tab Groups with other groups of people. You can have dedicated start pages depending on which Tab Group you’re using, plus with the new Focus features default Tab Groups could become even more important since they can change dynamically based on what time it is or where you are.

Expect extensions to become more interesting with expanded APIs for developers to play with, and those extensions will now sync between devices over iCloud. There’s also the usual annual push for more web technologies to make it into Safari, improving Safari’s compatibility across the web and opening up more opportunities for developers.

Apple has also promised that web-based push notifications will be a part of the iOS 16 rollout, but these won’t arrive till 2023. Not excited about getting spam notifications from websites you barely remember visiting? Relax, they’ll be opt-in.

iCloud Shared Photo Library

While you can already create shared albums with iOS 15 (and earlier), iOS 16 will allow you to share whole photo libraries with up to five members of your family. This will be a separate photo library, where you can choose to share all of your old photos or choose to share specific photos complete with smart sharing suggestions to make picking the right photos easier.

Shared iCloud Photo Library

With a shared iCloud Photo Library, you’ll be able to get memories of events that everyone has contributed to. You might see events that you participated in, from a different perspective in images that you didn’t take, for example.

Improvements to Apple Mail

Mail gets some useful power tools like the ability to unsend messages (within 10 seconds of sending them) and a mail scheduler for sending mail at a later time. Follow-up lets you move messages you have sent to the top of your inbox so you won’t forget about them and can follow up at a later date, while a “Remind me” setting will resurface messages in your inbox at a later date so that they don’t get buried over time.

Mail will also be a little more forgiving when searching your inbox, with corrections for search terms and smart search suggestions as you type. Errors like forgetting to include an attachment should trigger a reminder to check your message before you send it, a feature that’s common in other apps and mail services.

More Smart Home Features

Apple has overhauled the Home app in iOS 16, with a new design intended to make it easier than ever to control all of your HomeKit devices. You’ll get a new house view, categories for devices (like Lights, Speakers, TVs, and so on), up to four connected cameras on the main Home tab, and under-the-hood improvements that Apple claims will make interacting with HomeKit devices even faster.

Home app for iOS 16

You can also put new Home widgets on the lock screen to interact with devices or see a quick status update simply by raising your iPhone.

Apple is also introducing support for Matter (arriving in a later update), which has been designed to allow connected devices (even those that use different platforms, like Google or Amazon) to work better together.

Add Medications to Health

If you take medicines (or supplements) on a regular basis, iOS 16’s updated Health app will allow you to better track your schedule, add medicines using your iPhone camera, and get reminders to take those medicines on a custom schedule. You can also log when you’ve taken medication and learn more about what you’re taking (though you should always listen to your doctor first and foremost).

One thing that logging your medications can do is notify you of potentially dangerous medication interactions. You can also share Health data with family members (or request that they share their data), and customize exactly what is shared.

Apple Pay Later and Wallet

Apple Pay Later is a new buy-now-pay-later service for select applicants in the United States that allows you to split a payment into four equal installments over six weeks, with the ability to track what you owe in Wallet. It works anywhere Apple Pay is accepted.

You can also track regular Apple Pay transactions, displaying delivery information right in Wallet with participating retailers.

iOS 16 Wallet

Wallet also gets some handy new features, like the ability to safely share keys for smart devices over messaging apps like Messages and WhatsApp, with the ability to revoke permissions when you need to. You can also add photo ID cards to Wallet and share them with apps that require identity or age verification, though this won’t be available everywhere.

More iOS 16 Features

This is just the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds of new features and tweaks being made in iOS 16. Apple is also promising the next generation of CarPlay, a huge list of Accessibility improvements, better App Clips, Handoff for FaceTime calls, and expanded Hide My Email feature, more Memoji poses and styles, pinned lists in Reminders, and Weather warning notifications.

iOS 16 Features

Apple announced iOS 16 at WWDC 2022, among other big news like the M2 chip, a new MacBook Air, and powerful new iPad multitasking features.

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Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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