iOS 16 is here — meet all the new features for your iPhone

iOS 16 has made its big debut, first as a developer beta and now as a beta the rest of us can download. Be sure to read our iOS 16 public beta hands-on to see our first impressions of all the new features coming to the iPhone this fall.

You can also check out our guide on quick tips on how to use essential iOS 16 features on your iPhone.

As we learned during June’s WWDC 2022 iOS 16 preview, those features include a revamped lock screen with widgets, major Messages improvements, a shared photo library for families and more. And while those updates are coming to current iPhones, this is also going to be the iPhone OS that comes installed on the new iPhone 14 models rumored to be arriving later this year. We’d expect the final version of iOS 16 to arrive just before those new iPhones do.

Some features uncovered during the beta process could reveal unannounced capabilities slated for this fall’s phone. (We’re pretty sure that redesigned lock-screen is a sure sign that the iPhone 14 Pro could be getting an always-on display, for example.)

Here’s what we know about the big changes in iOS 16 based on the betas Apple has released, plus the company’s iOS 16 preview.

iOS 16 cheat sheet: The biggest new iPhone features

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)
  • Apple Pay on iOS 16 could finally support third-party browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox for in-browser payments. This has been seen live in the iOS 16 beta 4 so far.
  • iOS 16 brings new Memoji customizations and features to your iPhone.
  • The lock screen in iOS 16 gets a major overhaul. You can change the clock font, font color, and wallpapers. You can also add widgets and reposition photos.
  • Focus can now extend to the lock screen. You can create new lock screens tied to your Focus modes, such as work and play, each with their customizations and widgets.
  • Messages adds the ability to edit/delete messages. SharePlay also will work in Messages and you can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and more straight from the message app.
  • Apple Pay can now let you use contactless payments with merchants using just iPhones, no extra hardware needed. Apple Pay Later lets you split a purchase into four payments over six weeks with no interest or fees. 
  • iCloud Shared Photo library lets people share pictures seamlessly in a separate iCloud library. 
  • Family sharing has gotten an upgrade, allowing parents to set up children’s devices much quicker and easier. 

In addition to the top iOS 16 features, we’ve also got a look at some of the hidden iOS 16 features that haven’t gotten as much attention in the build-up to 

iOS 16 release date

Tim Cook at WWDC 2022

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Both the iOS 16 developer beta and iOS 16 public beta are now out, with more updates to come throughout the summer. (Those updates roll out to developers first, then to the public a few days to a week afterwards.) We’ve got a guide on how to download the iOS 16 beta.

On July 6, Apple released the iOS 16 developer beta 3, a third version of the software that added several new features, including a couple that had been missing from the initial betas. Less than a week later, the first public beta of iOS 16 arrived.

Other updates, like iOS 16 beta 4 and iOS 16 beta 5, have since arrived, bringing additional features and tweaks. We’re currently up to iOS 16 beta 6, which seems to focus on making things stable for the final release.

The final version of iOS 16 will likely launch in the fall alongside the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. We don’t know when the iPhone 14 is arriving, but Apple tends to aim for a September launch. Expect iOS 16 to arrive at the same time as the iPhone 14 release date.

What devices will run iOS 16?

Apple’s last two software updates have worked on the same devices, with support extending as far back as the iPhone 6s, which first debuted in the fall of 2015. However, given the number of iOS 15 features that required more modern hardware, Apple is cutting off support on some older phones.

In fact, Apple says that iOS 16 will come to the iPhone 8 and newer. Previous rumors said that the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and the original iPhone SE from 2016 would lose iOS support with this release. But we can throw the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus off the list of iOS 16 supported devices.

iPhone 6s

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Owners of those phones can’t really feel aggrieved should iOS 16 mark the cutoff point for Apple support. The original iPhone SE came out six years ago, and the iPhone 6s models will be 7 years old this fall; even the iPhone 7 is approaching its sixth birthday. Given the advances in processing power in that time, it’s only reasonable to assume, some iOS 16 capabilities are beyond what those devices can support.

iOS 16 lock screen

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Apple spent a ton of time highlighting the iOS 16 lock screen during its WWDC preview. In short, it’s a massive overhaul to the old, tired lock screen. There’s a huge swath of changes, some of which look a lot like what Google has done with Android.

You can edit the clock’s font and color, adjust picture placement, try out different styles like filters, change one or multiple elements, and create multiple lock screens. You can also apply whole themes, e.g. astronomy or weather. We’ve got a full look at all the iOS 16 lock screen elements you can customize.

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

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In addition to the customizable lock screen, notifications in iOS 16 will roll in from the bottom of the screen instead of obscuring the center of your wallpaper. You can hide them throughout the day to keep your lock screen clear. And for notifications that constantly update in real time, like for sports apps, iOS 16 introduces Live Activities, making it much easier to stay on top of things.

The ability to have a live screen with widgets seemingly sets the stage for an always-on display, a popular feature on Android phones but one missing from Apple’s devices. That could change with the iPhone 14, though Apple hasn’t said so officially. However, code in the iOS 16 developer beta hints at an always-on display that we’d peg to the iPhone 14 Pro models, given those devices are expected to scale down its refresh rate to 1Hz.

iOS 16 Messages

iOS 16 debuts at WWDC

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Messages will also see some big improvements. Many will appreciate that you will be able to edit and undo your messages, something long overdue. You can also mark threads as unread, just in case you want to come back to them later. SharePlay, first introduced in iOS 15, is coming to Messages, too.

As of version 2 of the iOS 16 developer beta, a Report Junk feature appeared that will  let people report SMS/MMS spam to wireless carriers.

Thanks to new updates in Dictation, you can seamlessly move between voice and text. The keyboard stays open while you’re speaking and you can select text with your finger and replace it with dictation. Dictation will also automatically end punctuation and emojis. 

The only unfortunate thing with this feature is that it only works properly with other iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 devices. iPhones on older software instead get duplicate messages when edits are made.

iOS 16 Focus

iOS 16 debuts at WWDC

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Focus was one of our favorite additions to iOS 15, blocking out unwanted distractions so you could concentrate on the thing you were doing, whether work or play. And in iOS 16, it will be better still.

For starters, it will now extend to your iPhone’s lock screen, with the ability to create custom screens tied to a specific focus mode. For instance, you could set one for work, complete with work-related wallpaper, widgets and customizations, and another one for when you’re relaxing at home. 

What’s more, the Focus customizations will extend to selected apps — so if you’ve selected your Work Focus mode, Safari, Messages, Mail and Calendar would only show notifications related to that. Changing between Focus modes on the lock screen would be as simple as swiping between them.

iOS 16 Wallet

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

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Apple Pay Later is a new feature for the Apple Wallet app in iOS 16. The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service will allow users to split any Apple Pay purchase into four payments over six weeks — all from the Apple Wallet app. The payments are zero-interest and come with no fees provided the user makes their payments on time and should be accepted anywhere you can use Apple Pay in the United States. PayPal recently announced its own BNPL service Pay in 4, so consumers will not be lacking options if they need more time for some larger purchases.

To help you better manage your payments, Apple Pay also gets an Order Tracking feature, which will give you detailed receipts and order tracking information, all within Apple Wallet.

Finally, Keys and IDs in Wallet have some new features. You’ll now be able to use you ID in Wallet to verify identity and age within apps, and can share home, hotel, office and car keys in Wallet through Apple’s messaging apps. And of course all of this info will be securely stored.

iOS 16 Maps

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Apple’s navigation app is expanding again, offering coverage in 11 new countries. It’s also adding six new cities to the 3D city map network, including Chicago, Sydney, and the awesome-looking Las Vegas.

More practically, you can now add up to 15 stops in an Apple Maps route, letting you navigate through multiple points easily. You can add more on the go by asking Siri, or prepare a route beforehand on a Mac and send it through to your iPhone when you’re ready.

If you’re a public transit user, Apple Maps will now let you check the fares for your trip, and you can add your transit cards into the Apple Wallet app so you can check if you’ve got enough credit to make it to your destination.

We round up all these changes in our look at iOS 16 Maps and its new features.

iOS 16 Live Text and Visual Look Up

iOS 16 debuts at WWDC

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Live Text and Visual Lookup will also get some upgrades in iOS 16. Starting with Live Text, you’ll be able to pull text from videos. You can pause on any frame and highlight the text you want. Live Text will also work in Translate so you can highlight large amounts of foreign text.

How to lift a subject out of a photo in iOS 16 Visual Look Up

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Visual Look Up gets one of iOS 16’s coolest additions. You can now tap the subject in a photo in order to copy it, removing the image from its background so that it’s easy to paste into another app such as Messages, Notes or Mail. We’ve got a guide on how to lift a subject out of a photo in iOS 16.

iOS 16 Family Sharing and Photos

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

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iOS already has a ton of helpful features for families, but Family Sharing has received an upgrade for iOS 16. The big thing is that it will now be far faster and easier to set up a child’s device thanks to the Quick Start option, which applies existing settings to a new phone. Given that kids aren’t known for their patience, this is definitely welcome. But possibly even more useful is the ability to approve (or deny) requests for more screen time directly from Messages, rather than needing to delve into Settings.

iOS 16 at WWDC

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Additionally, Apple introduced the new iCloud Shared Photo Library. This is a separate library from your other iCloud items, allowing you to collaboratively share photos with friends and family, much like you can in Google Photos. You can add up to five people.

You can share just what you want or all of your photos, as well group by person or date. As for how you share, you can either add pictures manually or use the new sharing shortcut in the Camera app to automatically add images as you take them. This switch can be flipped to be automatically enabled if that’s the road you want to take.

Photos will even suggest pictures to share on the For You tab. Everyone in the shared library has equal permissions.

iCloud Shared Photo Library is the biggest change to Photos, but not the only one. iOS 16 Photos adds new photo editing features as well as tools for managing duplicate images.

iOS 16 News and Sports

iOS 16 at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Apple News will get a new Sports section, letting you follow teams and leagues for all of the latest updates and stories. In the My Sports section, you can see schedules, scores, and highlights. All of your stuff is synced with the Apple TV app.

This will be free in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Apple News Plus subscribers will have access to premium coverage for their favorite sports teams.

iOS 16 Safety Check

iOS 16 at WWDC

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Apple wants to take a stand on personal safety, so iOS 16 will have Safety Check. This lets victims of domestic abuse easily revoke access to their account such as removing location sharing or app permissions. Safety Check can reset all privacy permissions and it protects access to messages.

iOS 16 Health

Health is getting a few changes tied to the watchOS 9 update that will be coming out at the same time as iOS 16. For instance, the iPhone is getting its own version of the Apple Watch’s Fitness app for tracking movement and other activity. Fitness will work on your iPhone even if you don’t have an Apple Watch (though Apple would certainly appreciate it if this addition inspires you to buy one.)

iOS 16 Medications drug interactions

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Another interesting feature coming to Health is a section that will let you log and manage your medications. With the iOS 16 Medications feature, you can enter the pills you’re taking and — more importantly — schedule reminders to take your pills at specific times.

iOS 16: Other features

So far, we’ve touched on the highlights from Apple’s keynote. However, as WWDC continues, we’re bound to hear a lot more about what’s next for Apple’s mobile OS. We’ll collect here everything we find out.

One feature we do know about is an update to allow Face ID to unlock your iPhone in landscape mode. And iOS 16 also adds support for Nintendo Switch controller connectivity. And iOS 16 will let you copy/paste edits in your photos. Plus, iOS 16 is fixing one of the most annoying things about surfing the web. Finally, iOS 16 will make transferring an eSim stupidly easy.

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