Just in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 series, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve been testing the final version of the software in the last week or so, and there are lots of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, improvements to message apps. Equally important is that it is not buggy.
This year’s iOS version is an update you will notice, something that was hard to say about iOS 15, the most important features of which are media sharing, focus modes and Share Play. Now two years old, iOS 14 has added widgets to the icon grid, spicing up your home experience for the first time since the iPhone was launched. With iOS 16, Apple has finally embraced the lock screen.
Personal lock screen
The lock screen had a clock and not much else. The font is thicker and you can even choose the text color and now there is room for widgets. The new default font might not look like much (I don’t know), but the good news is it’s customizable with different font styles and colors. Of course, you can choose photos for the lock screen, which is nothing new, and you can use filter styles and even choose random photos to browse. If the photos were taken in portrait mode, you can also enable a multi-layered photo effect, in which the subject of the photo jumps ahead of time. If you have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review, where we share our thoughts on Always On Display and, of course, Apple’s new Dynamic Island.
You can customize two different areas of the widget. First, above the clock is a narrow box best suited for single-line text (think about the date, the chance of rain, or your next calendar event). Below is a box that can hold up to four different widgets. a mix of 2×1 and 1×1 icons. You can tap them on the lock screen to launch the right one yourself, but don’t expect more information by long-pressing the icons, which is very similar to how Apple extends the information these widgets provide. . Maybe on iOS 16.1 or iOS 17?
Like the iOS 14 home screen widgets, it will take some time for third-party app developers to get the widgets in their updates and on your phone, but I’m sure productivity, fitness trackers, and others will take the opportunity. Google, in particular, looks ready to join – the next Gmail widget is sure to find a place on my lock screen when it’s available.
You can still see the signal strength and battery icons (now with a percentage reading), and both the flashlight and camera shortcuts are still available. Oddly enough, the battery indicator visually repeats its charge only when the battery is below 20 percent, which is inconsistent if you have 50 percent, for example.
The lock screen update also serves as a revamped way to introduce a feature in iOS 15 that can be a chore to set up: focus modes. If you rarely change the background during the week, for example, you can take a fun weekend photo of your family and add it to your personal focus mode.
Conversely, I have a motivational quote displayed on a black background when I have a deadline and my phone is set to Do Not Disturb. The ability to switch between focus modes makes them easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done it earlier from the drop-down menu in the top right corner, but I didn’t. In iOS 16 I already use focus modes more often.
A better communication experience
Apple’s original messaging app includes some unique tricks, including new visual search features. Now it can copy and paste images, extract items from photos, screenshots and more, and turn them into easily shareable stickers. Long press on an object / animal / person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or newer) will try to cut it out of the background, ready to be pasted somewhere else.
It’s incredibly accurate for such a, well, lazy method. I love it. The visual search skills in iOS 16 are even more comprehensive, as there is a new ability to extract text from video. In addition to the videos you create yourself, it should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.
Messages has also expanded sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets, and more, as long as they’re stored in one of Apple’s office software file types. Hopefully, third-party support for Microsoft and Google Suite will follow soon.
Finally, you can edit and undo messages in the Messages app, if you’re fast enough. You have up to 15 minutes to edit the message after sending it, and you can edit the message up to five times. You can also see edited messages from other users using iOS 16, which appear grayed out (blue?) Below the corrected message. Undo functions are for iPhone to iPhone messages only.
Similarly, you can now cancel sending emails and schedule an email from the native mail application. (Finally.) Gmail also has other modern features you’re probably already used to, like suggestions when you’ve forgotten an attachment or recipient.
Apple has also updated its dictation. Now when you talk to your iPhone, the keyboard stays on the screen which means you can type and correct as you say, great for specific names and places. You can also tap and dictate a word to correct mistakes. Apple has also added stricter automatic punctuation to Dictation, which generally helps you add commas, periods, and so on without having to say “question mark” at the end of your text requests to your friends. It also collects emojis as you say them and adds them to your typing. (This feature requires the A12 Bionic chip found in iPhone XR and newer devices.)
Health and fitness
Apple’s health and fitness apps are relatively new to the native app family and are constantly evolving. The Health app has a new Medicines feature that allows you to record what you take and when. You can set multiple medications for different time reminders and frequencies, and your iPhone will ping you when it’s time. Another addition to the Health app is the ability to enable notifications if recorded menstrual cycles show irregular periods and other signs of potential abnormalities.
On a lighter note, depending on how serious an athlete you are, Apple has also added a My Sports tab to its News app, with a section for your favorite sports teams. This includes news, achievements, related stories, and upcoming game memories. One caveat: some content may be blocked behind Apple’s News + paywall.
One of the best updates is the one you might miss. I did too, until I read Apple’s lengthy release notes for iOS 16: haptic typing is here on the iPhone, several years behind schedule. Until now, if you wanted to type vibrate on an iOS device, you had to install Gboard, yes, Google’s third-party keyboard, to get that functionality. Now, a few days later, it’s hard to imagine writing on glass without glass. Android users enjoyed it.