The unveiling of iOS 16, Apple’s new iPhone operating system for 2022, is just a week away and we’re starting to get a clear idea of what to expect.
The widely respected leaker Mark Gurman has predicted in his regular newsletter for Bloomberg that the iOS 16 update will include an extensive revamp of the iPhone’s lock screen, the interface that appears when the device lights up but is not yet unlocked. At the moment this only shows the date and time, hotkeys for the flashlight and camera, and (if relevant) now-playing media controls. But Gurman expects “major improvements to the lock screen, including wallpapers with widget-like capabilities.”
Widgets are the interactive blocks that sit in the Today View or (since the launch of iOS 14) the iPhone’s home screens and provide direct access to basic app or system functionality. For example, the Batteries widget shows the power levels of connected devices, while the Find My widget shows the location of selected contacts or items. Gurman doesn’t specify how a wallpaper would have this kind of functionality, but whatever it looks like, it’ll be simple: the bare details of the day’s appointments in Calendar, perhaps, or minimal information about the weather.
Partly this is for reasons of visual economy – it’s important not to overwhelm the user with unnecessary information unless they’re specifically looking for it – but partly it’s because Gurman also expects this revamped lock screen to offer always-on functionality. This means that, like the screen of recent models of the Apple Watch, it doesn’t need to be raised or tapped to display a basic interface: the bare minimum of information is displayed on the screen all the time.
To make sure this doesn’t hamper battery life, Gurman predicts that the always-on version of the lock screen will have a “significantly” lower refresh rate; we’re assuming that, as on the Apple Watch, it will also be dimmed and aesthetically simplified, removing some visuals and changing others from animated to static.
All of this is appealing — the always-on screen is a perpetual listing on iPhone owners’ wish lists and was due to appear last year — but don’t get too excited just yet. Based on Gurman’s predictions, it won’t be available as a retrospective upgrade like most iOS features, and won’t even work on all of this year’s new iPhones; it only works on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, he thinks. It will, in other words, be yet another point of differentiation between the Pro models and the bland iPhone 14.
Is Gurman correct in this prediction? Quite possibly, but don’t bet your house on it. As widely read and respected as the leaker has become, he still has some things wrong: AppleTrack currently awards him a strong rather than impeccable accuracy score of 86.5%. And in this case, you’ll find him covering himself with the words “if the feature finally breaks” in reference to the always-on lock screen.
Anyway, we’ll find out exactly what Apple has in store for the iPhone during the WWDC 2022 keynote on June 6. Macworld will cover all announcements as they happen, so come here for a day of fun and expert analysis.