At its WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple announced that iOS is getting a maelstrom of new features in its latest update, slated to hit everyone’s devices later this year. iOS 16 will focus on aesthetics and buttoning up the user experience from the iPhone in your hand to the Apple experience in your car. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman had recently teased a “fairly significant” upgrade to the mobile software, and it appears Gurman was right on track.
When you switch on your iPhone, the first thing you see is the lock screen, so Apple made it customizable in iOS 16. The new lock screen lets you pick from various fonts, colors, and live widgets to line the interface. You can choose a custom wallpaper, and iOS 16 will even let you create a subtle depth effect for things like portrait shots. It’s all for the sake of design and aesthetics, but the result means iOS 16 pairs nicely with the rest of the phone’s interface. (And frankly, what we see in the sample photos looks like what we thought Android 12’s Material You would be like.)
If you lead a busy life with your iPhone in tow, you can also customize your lock screen based on your Focus mode. If you’re at work, you can switch to your tasks-themed lock screen with widgets and wallpaper to match the mood. When it’s time to head home—or close the lid on the laptop and shuffle back into the family room—you can swap lock screens to make your iPhone feel a little less nagging.
Notifications can often feel like an overwhelming part of using a smartphone, especially when you’re following along with a live event. iOS 16 will pop up notifications from the bottom rather than from the top, and group them so that they’re not overtaking the lock screen. If the app developer uses the new Live Activities API, they’ll be able to consolidate notifications for events like live sports and breaking news so that they’re not overwhelming you every time you glance at your iPhone. And if you’re at work, you can use Focus mode to block out notifications from apps that shouldn’t be bothering you while on a call.
One of the upsides of messaging within a walled garden is that Apple can implement features that let you edit your messages at will. The new Apple Messages in iOS 16 introduces three highly requested features, including the ability to edit a message after you send it and a way to retract it if you regret hitting “send.” You can also mark specific threads as unread if you peep at them when you have a chance but don’t want to forget to reply later.
If you do your social networking with Apple Messages, there’s more good news, particularly for homebodies. SharePlay is coming to Messages, so you’ll be able to listen to music in tandem with a friend or family member, or watch a movie through a shared streaming app.
Family sharing is also a part of the new iOS experience. Parents can set up an account for a child with parental controls already in place, which will restrict certain apps, movies, books, and music from being accessed by your wee one. If your kiddo reads and types, they can also ask for more screen time through Messages, and you can approve right from within the app.
For large families and friend pods storing photos into iCloud, you can enable a Shared Photo Library in iOS 16. It will create a separate iCloud library for up to six people to contribute to with their photos. Every person within the Shared Photo Library will be able to add, delete, edit, and favorite photos and videos, which will then appear in the Memories and Featured Photos widgets and landing pages. (If this sounds similar to a feature you’re using on Google Photos, that’s because it is! But this one doesn’t require you to use a Google account.)
Live Text is expanding to work with videos. You can pause a video on a frame and interact with the text you see. It will prove helpful if you’re watching a video with text from another language that you need to translate quickly. It also works for converting currency and searching the web.
Apple’s gearing up HomeKit and its Home app to make things look nice and run smoothly for Matter’s eventual arrival. Shortcuts and panels will be more organized and match that new Lock screen, to boot. iOS 16 will also include the requisite code to support the Matter standard, so you’ll be able to use your iPhone as a hub of sorts when it’s live. We’ll have more information on how that works together when the standard goes live this fall or winter.
CarPlay is Apple’s answer to the in-dash infotainment, and at this year’s WWDC, the company announced it’s getting even more deeply integrated into the automobile.
CarPlay will be able to display content across multiple screens, and you’ll see widget-like panels (as you do on the Home screen) extending across the car’s dash. Apple promises deeper integration for controlling the radio, climate control, and car stat integrations. In its official press release, the company said that it will share more information in the future and that compatible vehicles will be announced “late next year.”
Apple is known for its hardware, but it’s clear from today’s WWDC keynote that software is what’s going to carry it this year. After all, it’s the way Apple keeps things simple and approachable that’s attracted users to its hardware. IOS 16 seems primarily focused on polishing the foundations laid down in iOS 15.
Updating as more information becomes available.