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Every iOS 16 feature that's coming to iPhones

The forthcoming iOS version sees new lock screen features, app refreshes, improvements to notifications, and more.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor

Apple today unveiled the newest version of its iPhone operating system, iOS 16. The update, scheduled to be released alongside this year's flagship iPhones in the fall, sees a slew of visual changes, productivity features, and refreshes to popular apps like Maps Messages and Photos.

What's new on iOS 16?

iOS 16 brings "new intelligence, sharing, and communication features" that are meant to enhance and help you personalize the iPhone experience, Apple SVP Craig Federighi said during the keynote. Here's every iOS 16 feature that was announced at WWDC 2022

Lock screen


There's no denying that the iPhone lock screen has always been its dullest feature. That changes today. On iOS 16, iPhones will receive a batch of informational and interactive wallpapers. Users can now personalize their lock screens and apply a bevy of styles that change the interface's color, tone, and appearance. Widgets like weather, timers, and task reminders can also be integrated within the lock screen. 

More: Apple announces big updates to the iPhone lock screen



Apple has made incremental updates to the way alerts and pings work over the past iOS versions, and iOS 16 is another step towards notification bliss. Notifications now appear on the bottom half of the iPhone display. Live Activities, like the lock screen widgets mentioned above, are consistent modules that display current events. That includes scores for sporting events and timely occurrences from your calendar. 

Focus mode


In tandem with the new lock screen widgets and wallpapers, Focus mode is also getting an update. In iOS 16, users can set lock screen profiles that match the respective Focus mode, whether it's for Work, Sleep, Personal, or Do Not Disturb. The adaptive feature reflects the wallpaper, as well as what modules of information are displayed. A simple side-swipe on the lock screen switches between your different Focus modes. 

Messages app


Arguably the most used iOS app, Messages will gain new features, including undo send and the ability to edit outbound messages. (It's like the "edit tweet" function that Twitter users have longed for.) Shareplay is also coming to the Messages app, allowing users to broadcast Shareplay-supported apps like Disney+ and YouTube through the messages platform. There are also new Dictation features, including the ability to grammatically correct and automatically punctuate your voice inputs, making it easier than ever to reply to text messages vocally.

Apple Pay and Pay Later


In addition to expanding its catalog of compatible merchants and places of acceptance, Apple Pay now has a financing option called Pay Later. Pay Later allows users to split payments across four equal installments over six weeks with zero interest and fees. Pay Later will be accepted anywhere that Apple Pay is, giving users more freedom when making purchase decisions. All upcoming payments can be tracked via the Wallet app through the installment option. 

More: Apple to launch Buy Now, Pay Later feature Apple Pay Later

iCloud Shared Library


Along with the bounty of existing family-sharing features on iOS, iCloud's Shared Photo Libraries lets group members upload, distribute, and sync photos and videos in common albums. Content that is captured with the Shared Library camera setting turned on will automatically populate in the designated album. And for greater control, you can pick and choose the particular images that are being shared with fellow members.

Also: Apple's iCloud Shared Photo Library is the new way to share pictures

Live Text and Visual Look Up


Live Text and Visual Look Up are two new features that are coming to Apple's Photos app in iOS 16. The former uses on-device intelligence to distinguish text from images and translate directly within the app. Impressively, this AI feature also works on videos; you simply pause on the desired frame and let Live Text do its thing. Visual Look Up isolates subjects (instead of text) from image backgrounds. Designed to recognize humans, animals, and even statues, the feature is a fast and simple way to cut and paste images for sharing. 

Apple Maps


Apple Maps is getting a refresh and will soon be available in 11 more countries, including Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. The app update features 3D-like renders of locations, providing more depth and detail to popular areas like Las Vegas, Miami, and Sydney. Maps are also getting multi-stop functionality, giving users the ability to set up to 15 stops per route. iOS 16 sees the addition of cycling paths and real-time transit fares that are easier to view, too. 

Home app


It's a home makeover for the Home app. The latest version of the smart home hub presents most, if not all, your IoT products within the front page of the application. That way, you no longer have to scroll and navigate around menus to access Scenes, cameras, and climate and lighting controls. Apple is one of the many big tech companies that are onboard with Matter, a new smart home standard that aims to simplify the way we connect our IoT products, coming this fall. 

Mail app


A series of new tools are coming to the iOS Mail app, such as email scheduling and the ability to cancel outbound messages before they get to the recipient. Like with Gmail and Outlook, the new Mail app will nudge you if it detects that you had forgotten an important part of the message (i.e. Not uploading an attachment when the word "attachment" is in the text.) For more automation, users can now set Remind Later and Follow Up alerts to remind themselves of their respective actions. 

Safety Check


Safety Check is Apple's latest privacy feature that allows users to better manage who and how their information is shared. For example, you can turn off location sharing, reset privacy permissions, and revoke access to messages and files. All of which are vital when victims of abuse are being stalked. Within the Safety Check app, you can also manage what apps you've granted people access to. The app was co-designed with organizations that stand against domestic violence, such as the National Network To End Domestic Violence and the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Also: Apple's Safety Check aims to help people in abusive relationships

Health and fitness apps


The upcoming updates to Apple's Health and Fitness apps serve to help users better understand their wellness and stats. A new Medications feature on the Health app logs the medications you take on a daily basis for better management. You can also send invitations to contacts to share their health information -- sort of like a casual check-up. As for the Fitness app, users without an Apple Watch can now take advantage of the iPhone's motion sensors to track steps, distance, and calories burnt. 


By Wachiwit -- Shutterstock

Some minor but much-needed shortcuts are coming to Apple's voice assistant, such as the ability to add emojis to dictated text messages, send messages without needing to confirm the action with Siri, and hang up the phone and FaceTime calls by saying, "Hey Siri, hang up." 

First look: Apple's WWDC 2022 in pictures

When will iOS 16 be available?

The official version of iOS 16 is expected to launch alongside the next iPhone series in fall 2022. If the public beta rollout is like anything of previous years, it will be available for enrollment later in July. 

Will my iPhone receive the iOS 16 update?

According to Apple's software page, iOS 16 will be available to download on the following devices: 

  • iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS and XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

Unfortunately, that also means that iPhones that are from 2016 or older, including the iPhone 6S and 7 series, will not be receiving the latest OS update. Learn more here.

Are you excited about the newly announced iOS 16 features? Let us know in the comments below. 

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