Apple has pulled the covers on iOS 16, but is that so different from iOS 15?
At WWDC 2022, Apple unveiled its latest version of the iPhone operating system: iOS 16. Here’s a quick look at how it compares to iOS 15, which it replaces, and the new features that should make it a serious upgrade.
The lock screen
Although iOS 15 has improved the look of the system well, it still left the first screen you see a bit on the basic side. That has now changed in iOS 16 thanks to the redesigned lock screen.
This feature allows you to customize how the information is displayed on the screen. Photos can be placed for things like the time and date, making the aesthetic more 3D than before and certainly better than anything you’re likely to find on Android right now. You can also choose from a variety of fonts and color schemes to customize the images and text to match your favorite look.
Aside from the classic time and date you’d find on iOS 15, the new version also lets you add widgets like a calendar to see upcoming appointments, Activity to see how close you are to closing your rings, and weather apps so you don’t end up in the rain. These are based on the Apple Watch widgets and look impressive given the limited time we’ve had to see them in action.
Building on the Focus feature introduced in iOS 15, you can also set up multiple lock screens that are easy to switch between. These are then matched with the Focus modes you’ve set up, so you can finish an evening’s work, swipe to the Family Lock screen, and activate all your Family Focus settings at once. Nice.
Live update widgets also allow you to track deliveries on the way, latest game score, or other useful information. And if you’re listening to music, you can now have full album artwork displayed on the lock screen above the playback controls.
iOS 15 started the big job of fixing the notoriously complicated notification system on the iPhone, introducing the ability to mute conversations, have notifications delivered at desired times, the addition of Contact Photos to instantly recognize who is messaging you, plus the Notification Summary feature that bundles related alerts and delivers them in the morning or evening or at any other time you specify.
iOS 16 doesn’t change this much. We’ve already talked about the ability to associate the lock screen with your focus settings, but in the new update you’ll also notice that the alerts slide up from the bottom of the screen so that the pretty image you’ve carefully selected is no longer there. . t always hidden by notification boxes.
Some of the most useful updates coming in iOS 16 can be found in the Messages app. First, you can edit messages that have already been sent so you can quickly correct an embarrassing typo before the recipient gets the wrong idea. What if you shouldn’t have sent the message at all? You can now delete it before the person sees the content. Finally, you can mark a thread in your inbox as unread so you can remember to look at it later.
iOS 15 introduced the Shared with You feature that would track your messages and then automatically post any content sent by friends — links to music, movies, interesting articles, and so on — into the relevant app. So if a partner shared a song from a new album, it would be in the “Shared with you” section of Apple Music the next time you open it.
In iOS 16, Apple took it one step further by introducing the SharePlay feature also introduced in iOS 15, which allows you and the friend to enjoy the content at the same time, and make it available directly in Messages. This means you don’t have to open other apps to watch the movie or listen to the track with your friend. You can also continue chatting while the content is playing, all from one app.
The Mail app can feel a bit of an unwanted stepchild at times, with third-party offerings usually providing a much larger toolkit for managing your messages. iOS 15 has introduced some privacy features that can hide your information from senders, such as location, online activity, or even whether you’ve read the message. These were good additions, but didn’t really amplify the lack of controls and capabilities in the app. iOS 16 fixes this with some new features that should close the gap with the competition.
Scheduled emails are now available in Mail, so you can schedule the important message to be sent at a specific time. You will also be notified just before the message is sent, in case you want to change your mind and cancel the message. You can now get an email you received to go back to the top of your inbox after a certain amount of time, which should prevent you from forgetting it if it arrives at a time when you’re busy.
Mail also scans your messages to see if you forgot to add anything important, such as an attachment, and warns you before the message is sent. Not to mention that it will use its sleight of hand to bring to your attention important emails that you have not yet received a reply to and allow you to follow up on them.
iOS 16 introduces a truly excellent feature that was missing from Apple’s navigation app: multi-step routing. It allows you to plan trips with up to 15 different stops along the way, all without having to put additional information in Maps. It’s also paired with the Mac, so plan a vacation trip on your iMac or MacBook, sync it with your iPhone, and head out the door.
There are also new transit features that give users the predicted cost of their trips, and iOS 16 adds transit cards to Wallet, which then checks balances to remind you when to top up.
Shared photo library
Keeping photo libraries organized can be very tricky, especially when many people want access. Now, in iOS 16, Apple has created a new place for families (up to six people) to share and manage photos together in iCloud Shared Photo Library. You can choose from existing photos in your libraries and take advantage of a new switch in the Camera app that sends the photos directly to the library. Anyone in the group can add, delete, or edit the images, so it’s not left to you to manage the whole thing.
Arguably one of the most impressive additions in iOS 15 was Live Text. This is the feature that allows you to point your camera at text (be it a menu or a sign) in a foreign language and your iPhone will automatically translate. It also extracts text from images so you can add it to Notes or call phone numbers shown in the image. Now iOS 16 is bringing this to video as well. Just pause the recording of the text in question, then the software can extract it and translate or copy the words to the clipboard.
A sister feature to Live Text coming in iOS 15 is Visual Look Up, which helps identify certain things, such as landmarks, art, flowers, and dog breeds, by pointing the iPhone’s camera at them. The image is then analyzed and the results are presented via Siri.
iOS 16 adds more subjects, including birds, insects, and statues, and also introduces a new feature that lets you touch and hold the subject and then lift it out of the frame. It’s like a Photoshop effect where you can then share the crop in messages, social media posts, or whatever. We don’t really see the point, but it could be quite fun.
New Wallet Features in the US
Customers in the US who want to spread the payment for items over a few weeks can take advantage of the Apple Pay Later feature in iOS 16. This allows you to order a product and then set a six-week payment schedule to pay it off. Six weeks sounds a bit odd to us (most people are paid monthly, right?), but it’s meant to help people budget for their purchases. You can also track the delivery of said items in the Wallet app.
There’s also a new feature that can confirm your age without revealing your information to the supplier or bartender, plus the ability to share electronic keys for your car, hotel room, office, etc. via Messages, Mail, and other apps, with the security provided by Wallet.
Apple went pretty crazy with iOS 16 and added tons of other features like improvements to CarPlay, dictation, set up accounts for kids, fitness, home, accessibility, and others. You can read more about it in our guide to the best new iOS 16 features.
It should build on the great features introduced in iOS 15, with some much-needed additions to Mail, Messages, the lock screen, and others. The public beta will be available in July, so you can test it before the full release in September with the new iPhone 14.
One thing to note: Apple states that iOS 16 will only be available to those with an iPhone 8 or newer. So if you’re not on that list, check out our roundup of the best iPhone deals to see if you can get a bargain on an upgrade.