yJust in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 line, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve spent the past week or so testing the latest version of the software, and there are plenty of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, Messages app improvements and some smarter AI tricks. Equally important, it’s not buggy. The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system works with the iPhone 8 and later models, although some features require the relatively recent A12 chip. (More on that later.)
This year’s iOS release is an update that you’ll notice—something that was hard to say about iOS 15, whose most notable features relate to media sharing, focus modes, and SharePlay. iOS 14, now two years old, has added widgets to the icon grid and rocks your home experience for the first time since the launch of the iPhone. With iOS 16, Apple finally tackled the lock screen.
- Customizable lock screen
- Visual search is smarter and more useful
- Touch typing
- Very few launch errors
- Some features require the latest iPhones
- Others need to support third-party apps
Personal lock screen
The lock screen is used to display a clock and nothing else. Things are a little different now, but let’s start with the clock. The font is thicker and you can even choose the color of the text and there is now room for tools. You may not like the new default font look (I don’t), but the good news is that it’s customizable, with many font styles and colors. You can of course choose images for the lock screen, which is nothing new, and you can apply filter styles and even choose a mixed set of images to cycle through. If the photos are taken in portrait mode, you can also enable the multi-layer photo effect, with the subject of the photo appearing in front of time. If you have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review of our thoughts on Always On Display and, of course, Apple’s new dynamic island.
There are two different areas of widgets that you can customize. First, there’s a thin square at the top of the clock that fits one-line text (think: the date, chances of rain, or the next calendar event.) Below that, there’s a square that can hold up to four different widgets—a combination of 2×1 and 1×1 icons. From the lock screen, you can tap this to launch on the occasion itself, but don’t expect to get any additional information by long-pressing the icons, which seems like Apple’s way of expanding the information these tools provide. . Maybe in iOS 16.1 or iOS 17?
Similar to the first home screen widgets debuting in iOS 14, third-party app developers will take some time to factor widgets into their updates and on your phone, but I’m sure productivity, fitness tracking services, and more will jump into a shell. Google in particular seems ready to join in: the upcoming Gmail widget will get a place on the lock screen when it becomes available.
The new lock screen keeps some of the classic features as well. You will still see signal strength and battery icons (now with percentage reading
)Camera and flashlight shortcuts are both still available for you to take advantage of. Oddly enough, the battery indicator only visually repeats the charge when the battery is below 20 percent, which is counterintuitive when it’s at 50 percent, for example.
The lock screen update also serves as a rejuvenating way to showcase an iOS 15 feature that can be quite daunting to set up: focus modes. You can now set the focus mode for individual lock screens (one for personal, one for work, and one for sleep), each with their own custom widget and image formats. If you rarely change your wallpaper during the week, you can make a fun picture of your family on the weekend, for example, and set it to your personal focus mode.
Conversely, I have a buzzing motivational quote on a black background when I spend too much time on deadlines and set my phone to Do Not Disturb. The ability to swipe between focus modes makes it easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done that in the past from the top-right dropdown, but I didn’t. With iOS 16, I already use focus modes quite often.
Better messaging experience
Apple’s original messaging app gets some unique tricks, including new Visual Lookup features. It now handles copying and pasting images, dragging themes from images, screenshots and more, and turning them into easy-to-share stickers. Long press on the object/animal/person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or later) will try to cut it away from the background, ready to paste it somewhere else.
It’s amazingly accurate for such a slow method. I love him. Visual search skills in iOS 16 are even more extensive, with the new ability to lift text from a video. In addition to videos you take yourself, you should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.
Messages has also expanded its sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and Stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets, and more, as long as they’re saved in one of Apple’s office software file types. We hope that third-party support for Microsoft and Google Suite will follow soon.
Apple makes up for lost time elsewhere, too. Finally, you can edit and unsend messages in the Messages app – if you’re fast enough. You will have up to 15 minutes to edit after the message is first sent, with the opportunity to change your message up to five times. You can see any modified messages from other people using iOS 16 as well, which will be gray (blue?) below the patched message. Unsend features are only for iPhone to iPhone Messages.
Similarly, you can now undo sending and scheduling emails from the native Mail app. (Finally.) There are also more recent features you’re probably already familiar with on Gmail, like suggestions for when you’ve forgotten an attachment or recipient. .
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