Apple’s latest iOS 16 update brings some exciting new capabilities and enhancements to iPhones. With a focus on personalization, messaging, and intelligence, iOS 16 aims to offer users a more customizable, connected, and smart experience. This in-depth review outlines all the key new features and changes in iOS 16 that users can look forward to on their iPhones.
Announced at WWDC 2022 and made available in Fall 2022, iOS 16 represents one of the biggest iOS updates in years. While retaining the same overall look and feel as iOS 15, iOS 16 packs in a plethora of new capabilities ranging from a customizable lock screen and updated apps to major improvements in messaging, safety, and intelligence.
For iPhone users, iOS 16 promises a more personalized, intelligent, and convenient experience all around. The update brings key new features like lock screen customization, iCloud Shared Photo Library, Live Text in videos, dictation improvements, and much more. iOS 16 is compatible with iPhone models ranging from iPhone 8 to the latest iPhone 14 lineup.
This comprehensive review covers all the most important additions and changes in iOS 16, from visual changes and new capabilities to under-the-hood improvements. Read on for a detailed look at what’s new for iPhones with iOS 16.
Customizable Lock Screen
One of the biggest new features in iOS 16 is the customizable lock screen. iOS 16 finally allows users to personalize their lock screen beyond just wallpapers. You can now change practically everything on the lock screen – wallpaper, colors, font styles, placement of elements, and more. The new lock screen customization capabilities include:
- Photo Shuffle – Set the lock screen to shuffle through a curated collection of your photos.
- Lock Screen Gallery – Select multiple photo wallpapers that will rotate through with each lock and unlock.
- Photo Styles – Apply color filters and styles to wallpaper photos for a unique look.
- Customizable Fonts – Change up the font, color, and size of lock screen text elements like the time and date.
- Widget Placement – Freely place widgets like calendar, weather, activity rings anywhere on the lock screen.
- Notification Overhaul – Notifications have been visually overhauled to appear at the bottom of the lock screen.
With all the personalization options, you can truly make your lock screen reflect your style and preferences. The customizable lock screen makes your iPhone feel more unique and personalized.
iCloud Shared Photo Library
iOS 16 finally brings shared photo libraries to iCloud Photos. The new iCloud Shared Photo Library feature lets you share photos seamlessly with family members.
Here’s an overview of how iCloud Shared Photo Library works:
- Create or join a shared library with up to five other people.
- Share past photos along with new ones added.
- Integration with Memories and Featured Photos to relive shared moments.
- Smart rules for sharing like automatic inclusion of people detected in photos.
- Central hub to browse the shared library, add captions, and more.
The shared photo library makes it effortless to keep a family or group collection of photos synced across iPhones in real-time. No more needing to airdrop photos to each other.
Improved Messages app
The Messages app gets several new capabilities in iOS 16 aimed at making messaging more seamless, expressive, and productive. Some highlights include:
- Edit messages – Edit recently sent iMessages. Useful for quickly fixing typos and mistakes.
- Unsend messages – Recall accidentally sent messages which will then be deleted for all recipients if acted on quickly.
- SharePlay integration – Start SharePlay sessions like co-watching shows directly within an iMessage thread.
- Mark conversations as unread – Flag message threads for later follow-up.
- Improved search – Easily find photos, links, and conversations in Messages via improved search.
Messaging is given a boost in iOS 16 with some thoughtful new additions that enhance the functionality around communicating with friends, family, and peers.
Visual Look Up
iOS 16 expands the capabilities of Visual Look Up which allows you to interact with objects, text, and images within photos. The expanded Visual Look Up features include:
- Lift Subject from Background – Instantly remove the background from photos of people, objects, pets, and more with a single tap.
- Photos to Illustrations – Convert photos into stylized illustrations.
- Live Text for Video – Detect text within paused video frames that you can copy, lookup, or translate.
- Quick Actions – Take action on recognized objects like phone numbers (call, message) dates (create calendar event) addresses (open in Maps).
Whether isolating the subject from an image or copying text from videos, the enhanced Visual Look Up allows you to do more with the visuals on your iPhone.
Dictation, Apple’s system-wide speech-to-text capability, receives major improvements in iOS 16. Most notable is the ability to use the keyboard as a toggle to dictation.
Rather than needing to press a mic button, you can now quickly toggle back and forth between typing and speaking. Other dictation enhancements include:
- Automatic punctuation – Dictation will automatically add commas, periods, and question marks where needed.
- Emoji dictation – Insert emojis by saying their name e.g. “smiley face emoji”.
- Insert last emoji – Say “last emoji” to add the previously used emoji again.
- Paste text snippets – Say “paste [text]” to paste text snippets you’ve copied earlier.
- Switch voice – Easily switch dictation between using your device’s offline speech models vs. performing speech recognition online.
- Multi-language dictation – Fluidly switch languages during dictation without having to fully adjust system settings.
Dictation should feel much more interactive and seamless with iOS 16 with the new abilities to toggle it via the keyboard and leverage emojis, paste, multi-language, and more.
Wallet and Apple Pay Upgrades
The Wallet app gains several upgrades in iOS 16 like Apple Pay Later, Apple Pay Order Tracking, keys sharing, and ID verification. Notable improvements include:
- Apple Pay Later – US users can split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks, with zero interest and no fees.
- Order Tracking – Merchants can provide updates and tracking information for Apple Pay purchases right within Wallet.
- ID Verification – Share ID details like your driver’s license for identity verification in apps and websites.
- Keys Sharing – Securely share home, hotel, office and car keys with other Apple users via messaging apps or email.
Wallet aims to become the central place to easily access passes, tickets, keys, cards, and more on iPhone with iOS 16. The addition of Apple Pay Later provides another flexible payment option as well.
iOS 16 introduces a new Safety Check feature that lets people quickly reset access they’ve granted to others. It includes:
- Reviewing and resetting app permissions for location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts, calendars, and more.
- Resetting access to private Apple features like location sharing, password sharing, Apple Pay activity, and keys in Wallet.
- Reviewing shared photos, account recovery contacts, trusted devices, and family sharing status.
Safety Check makes it easy to reshare access and permissions if needed after a major life event like a breakup that necessitates cutting off device access. It provides an important new privacy and security capability.
Focus Modes Updates
Focus modes introduced in iOS 15 are enhanced in meaningful ways with iOS 16. Improvements include:
- Focus Filters – Limit which apps and notifications can notify you based on your current Focus. Ensure only relevant apps can distract you.
- Focus Schedule – Have Focus modes turn on and off automatically based on your routine or calendar events. No more manually toggling them on/off.
- Redesigned Focus interface – A new Settings menu dedicated to Focus modes makes it easier to customize them.
- Focus Status – See a Focus status indicator on your lock screen so you know which mode is active.
- Share Across Devices – Set up a Focus on iPhone and have it sync across your other Apple devices like iPad and Mac.
Focus modes aim to reduce distraction by allowing you to filter apps and notifications depending on what you need to concentrate on. The improvements in iOS 16 enhance automation around Focus modes and make them easier to customize.
The Fitness app has been redesigned and gains more capabilities to motivate you to stay active. What’s new includes:
- Fitness rings – The classic Activity rings have been replaced with more customizable and detailed daily Move, Exercise, and Stand goals represented as rings.
- Heart rate zones – Workouts can incorporate different heart rate zones like cardio, fat burn, and high intensity.
- Medication logging – The Health app allows logging medications, vitamins, supplements and more to monitor their effectiveness.
- Sleep stages – Sleep tracking now includes the ability to detect REM, Core and Deep sleep stages.
- Running form metrics – Get detailed feedback on running efficiency like stride length, ground contact time, and more.
For iPhone users focused on health and fitness, iOS 16 offers additional tracking capabilities and personalization around workouts and activity goals. The redesigned Fitness app aims to provide added motivation to close those rings.
iOS 16 brings intelligence to notifications to cut down on disruptions. This includes:
- Live Activities API – Apps can display timely, up-to-date glanceable information via notifications, like sports scores and food delivery tracking.
- Notification delivered quietly – Less disruptive notification delivery that avoids banners and sounds.
- Notification summary – Lower priority notifications can be delivered in a daily summary.
- Focus Filters – Filter notification based on your Focus mode, allowing only relevant apps to notify you.
The notification improvements help ensure users see the most timely, relevant information while reducing distraction. Granular notification controls were a pain point in iOS 15 that are much improved now.
In its ongoing efforts to replace passwords with more secure mechanisms, Apple is introducing Passkeys in iOS 16. Passkeys are biometric-secured digital keys that stay on the device and are never stored on remote servers.
Passkeys aim to offer a safer and easier sign-in method using Touch ID or Face ID. iOS 16 lays the groundwork for this new login standard by enabling Passkey creation and use within apps and websites. Over time, Passkeys could effectively eliminate the need for passwords.
People who benefit from the suite of Accessibility features on iPhone will find even more customization options in iOS 16. These include:
- Live Captions – Automatically generates captions for audio and media playing on the iPhone.
- Apple Watch Mirroring – Control Apple Watch directly from iPhone for users with upper body limb differences.
- Buddy Controller – Get assistance controlling iPhone or Apple TV from a caregiver via a paired secondary device.
- Siri Pause Time – Adjust how long Siri waits before responding to requests.
- Magnifier – Ability to lock the focus point and change colors while using Magnifier.
The new accessibility options provide broader ways to customize the iPhone experience based on individual needs and capabilities. Apple continues its push to make its devices more usable for all.
Smart Home Connectivity
iOS 16 aims to make controlling smart home devices easier with new capabilities like:
- Redesigned Home app – Manage accessories with scenes, suggested automations, and camera feeds within the Home app.
- Matter support – Native compatibility with Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard for interoperability.
- Siri suggestions – Ask Siri to interact with HomeKit-enabled accessories using natural language.
- Shared home access via Messages – Securely share home access with others directly via the Messages app.
As smart homes and connected accessories grow in popularity, iOS 16 adds improvements for more seamless iPhone control and management of appliances, lighting, security systems, and more.
Alongside all the new user-facing capabilities, iOS 16 provides meaningful under-the-hood upgrades including:
- Rapid security updates – Get important security fixes for serious vulnerabilities outside of major iOS updates.
- Clean Energy Charging – Optimizes charging to selectively use power from cleaner sources and reduce battery aging through machine learning.
- iCloud Shared Photo Library – Share a photo library seamlessly with family while maintaining control over your personal library.
- Live Text via Camera – Interact with text within photos right from the viewfinder before snapping the image.
- Visual Look Up over VPN – Use Visual Look Up features like recognizing objects and translating languages even when connected to a VPN.
While less flashy, these types of improvements contribute to a smoother, more responsive, intelligent, and private user experience with iOS 16.
Compatible iPhone Models
iOS 16 is supported on all the same models as iOS 15, specifically:
- iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max
- 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 and 3rd gen
Owners of older iPhone models like the original iPhone SE, iPhone 7 series, and iPhone 6S series will be unable to upgrade to iOS 16. But the supported range remains broad, covering phones back to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X generation.
Should You Upgrade to iOS 16?
iOS 16 delivers an abundance of new capabilities that meaningfully enhance the user experience. For most iPhone owners, upgrading is a no brainer.
The customizable lock screen alone makes iOS 16 worth upgrading for. Combined with major new features like iCloud Shared Photo Library, Visual Lookup upgrades, and Wallet improvements, iOS 16 packs in a ton of shiny new functionality.
And thanks to Apple’s focus on continuing to optimize performance, iOS 16 runs very smoothly even on older iPhones like the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. These devices see noticeable boosts in snappiness despite their age.
Of course, some users may want to wait a few weeks after iOS 16’s public release to upgrade in order to let Apple iron out any unforeseen bugs. But in general, iOS 16 is looking extremely polished out of the gate.
For the majority of iPhone owners, the combination of exciting new features and underlying enhancements makes iOS 16 a must-have update. Anyone with a compatible iPhone would benefit from upgrading and taking full advantage of all the latest capabilities. iOS 16 highlights Apple’s continued rapid pace of iPhone innovation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some questions about iOS 16 and what it means for your iPhone? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
How do I get iOS 16?
iOS 16 will be available as a free software update for compatible iPhones. You can install it either over-the-air on the device via Settings > General > Software Update, or by connecting to a computer with iTunes and choosing Download and Install.
Apple recommends first backing up your device either to iCloud or iTunes before installing any major software update. The iOS 16 update download is 3-4GB in size. Ensure you are connected to WiFi to avoid cellular data overages when downloading.
What new features do iPhones get with iOS 16?
The most notable new features in iOS 16 covered in this guide include:
- Customizable lock screen with widgets, fonts, colors
- iCloud Shared Photo Library for seamless sharing
- Visual Look Up text and object recognition
- Dictation via keyboard toggle, emoji dictation
- Focus modes updates like scheduling and filters
- Safety Check for resetting access
- Enhancements to Messages, Wallet, Maps and other apps
Does iOS 16 make older iPhones faster?
Yes, iOS 16 delivers performance boosts on older devices like the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. These models with the A12 Bionic chip feel noticeably more responsive and optimized under iOS 16.
In general, Apple’s latest software releases improve system efficiency and speed on older iPhones by optimizing memory management, animations, and processing.
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Can I still use iOS 15 if I don’t upgrade to iOS 16?
Yes, you can continue using iOS 15 on your iPhone and stick with the current feature set. iOS 15 will continue to receive critical security updates from Apple for some time.
However, bypassing iOS 16 means you won’t benefit from all the major new capabilities it brings. Most users will want to upgrade to iOS 16 to take full advantage of the latest iPhone updates.
Does iOS 16 drain battery life faster?
During the iOS 16 beta period, battery life was impacted on some devices, as is typical for early test software.
However, Apple works to optimize battery performance through the beta cycle. The public release of iOS 16 is not experiencing any significant battery life hits compared to iOS 15. Performance should be on par with previous iOS versions.
Can I revert back to iOS 15 if I don’t like iOS 16?
Unfortunately, there is no way to downgrade your iPhone’s operating system from iOS 16 back to iOS 15 after you’ve updated. The only option is a clean install that erases the device.
This is why it’s recommended to wait a few days or weeks after iOS 16’s public release to upgrade in case any reservations arise about the new version. Try creating an iTunes or iCloud back up beforehand as well.
Will my iOS 16 features vary by iPhone model?
Some of the more advanced iOS 16 capabilities are limited to Apple’s newest iPhone models. For example, the clever new Live Text features for video and real-time text translations require the power of the A12 chip found in the iPhone XS and later.
Otherwise, the majority of changes in iOS 16 are available across all compatible iPhone models back to the iPhone 8. But newer i
iOS 16 delivers an exciting array of new features that meaningfully enhance the experience of using an iPhone on a daily basis. The increased personalization around lock screens and Focus modes plus major additions like Shared Photo Library and Apple Pay Later give users more ways to express themselves and manage their data and devices.
Supported on a wide range of iPhone models dating back to 2017’s iPhone X, iOS 16 manages to pack in cutting-edge capabilities while not leaving any recent iPhones behind. And thanks to Apple’s relentless focus on optimizing performance, iOS 16 makes even older iPhones feel faster and more responsive.
While change for change’s sake is not always welcome in tech, iOS 16 introduces changes that feel thoughtful and responsive to how we engage with our phones today. The balance between continuity and innovation hits the mark.
For the vast majority of iPhone owners, iOS 16 is a must-have upgrade. The software update solidifies the iPhone’s position as offering the most personalized, intelligent, and privacy-focused user experience on the market. Download and install iOS 16 today to instantly experience the latest and greatest capabilities your iPhone has to offer.