iOS 16: Every Major New Feature You Need to Know

This story is part of WWDC 2022CNET’s full coverage of Apple’s annual developer conference.

Apple showed off all the major new iOS 16 features earlier this week on WWDC, the annual developer conference. We’re going to run through all the features you need to know in anticipation of the public beta coming in July and the full release in September.


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Apple previews iOS 16 and lots of new iPhone features


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iOS 16 lets you edit and unsend messages

“Embarrassing typos are a thing of the past,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, as he introduced three of the most requested features to the Messages app.

First, in iOS 16 you can edit sent messages† So if you notice a typo after a message, you can edit the message afterwards. A small “edited” will appear in the status below the message.

A screenshot of the iOS 16 Messages app with one edited

In Messages you can edit previously sent messages.

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Then – and this is arguably my favorite new feature – you can instantly recall a sent message. If you accidentally sent an unfinished message, you can use the Undo Send tool to prevent it from being read and hopefully look less chaotic to your friends and family.

Finally, you can mark messages and threads as unread. This can be an excellent resource if you don’t have time to respond to a message right now, but want to make sure you get back to it later.

Your iPhone gets a new customizable lock screen

One of the things you look at most on your iPhone is the lock screen, especially if you have a Face ID equipped iPhone. iOS 16 brings the most substantial iPhone lock screen update yet† Press and hold to edit your lock screen. You can swipe to try out different styles. Each style changes the color filter for the background photo and the font on the lock screen so that everything complements each other. This feels a bit like Apple’s take on Google’s Material You, which launched with Android 12.

You can also customize the time and date fonts and add widgets on the lock screen, such as temperature, activity rings, and a calendar. The widgets resemble complications on the Apple Watch’s lock screen.

Your iPhone becomes more customizable in iOS 16. You can choose how your lock screen looks, down to the font and color.

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You can even set multiple custom lock screens with different widgets and simply swipe to switch between them. There’s even a photo shuffle option that automatically changes the images on your lock screen.

A feature we hoped Apple would add was an always-on display. It’s something that almost all Android phones have; even the Apple Watch does. There is hope that it will come true with the iPhone 14

A screenshot of the Live Activities tool at the bottom of the lock screen

iOS 16 adds a feature that developers can use called Live Activities. This is essentially a mini-view of the real-time progress of a workout, sporting event, or Uber ride from your iPhone’s lock screen.

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Notifications and live activities

Sometimes notifications can cover your lock screen picture, so iOS 16 moves notifications to the bottom of your screen. When you receive them, they do not appear as a list, but as a vertical carousel. Not only does this look better, but it should also be a big help when using your iPhone with one hand.

iOS 16 also aims to fix another notification issue. Sometimes you get a lot of notifications in a row from one app, like the score of a basketball game. A new developer tool called Live Activities makes it easier to stay on top of what’s happening in real time from your lock screen, rather than getting a series of interruptions.

Live activities should make it easier to track sporting events, workouts, or even the progress of an Uber ride.

Wallet and Apple Pay Later

ID cards from more states are available in your Wallet app, along with more security and privacy features. In iOS 16, you can also protect your identity and age. So instead of showing your exact date of birth, the Wallet app shows your ID and that you are over 21.

iOS 16 makes key sharing easier with apps like Mail and Messages. When your friend receives the key, they can add it to the Wallet app on their iPhone. Apple said it is working to make sure shared keys are an industry standard and free to others.

A screenshot of cards in the Wallet app for iOS 16

The Wallet app in iOS 16 is getting some minor but notable updates, including the Apple Pay Later payment plan.

Apple

Apple Pay supports new payment types and adds a new feature called Apple Pay Later, a Klarna-like service that lets you split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks, with no interest and no fees. Upcoming payments are managed through the Wallet app, making it easy to keep track of dates and payments.

But Apple Pay doesn’t stop there. A new feature lets you track Apple Pay orders, and merchants can provide detailed receipts and tracking information. This should make it easier to stay informed about the status of all your orders.

A screenshot of a thread in Messages where a dog cutout has been added

You can tap and hold the subject of a photo and separate it from the background. Then you can drag it to another app like Messages to share it.

Apple

Tap and Drag Visual Lookup for Photos

In iOS 15, Visual Look Up analyzes your photos and can identify objects such as plants, landmarks, and pets. iOS 16 takes this to the next level. When you touch the subject of a photo, like the dog in the image above, you can take it off the background and add it to apps like Messages. Essentially, it is a tap and hold tool that removes the background from a photo.

Apple sometimes uses the word “magic” too much, but this feature really does look like it.

Craig Federighi introduces SharePlay in Messages for a giant screen

During the keynote for WWDC, Apple executive Craig Federighi introduces SharePlay for the Messages app.

Apple

SharePlay comes to Messages

SharePlay, which debuted in iOS 15, allows you to have a shared experience while connecting with someone via FaceTime. You can watch TV shows, listen to music in sync and other things. iOS 16 adds the ability to discover more apps that support SharePlay from within FaceTime.

But perhaps one of the coolest things Apple did for SharePlay was to make it work in the Messages app. Apple said this was one of the biggest requests from app developers. Now if you want to share a movie on Disney Plus, you can launch SharePlay with a friend while chatting in Messages.

An Apple executive presents the Safety Check feature at the WWDC keynote

Safety Check lets you quickly reset location sharing and password access. It is intended to help people in abusive relationships.

Apple

Safety Check aims to help people in abusive relationships

Security check is a new feature intended to help people in abusive relationships. It allows you to view and reset who can access location information, as well as passwords, messages, and other apps on an iPhone.

Updates to focus mode and focus filters

The focus mode is getting several updates. The first applies Focus behavior to widgets and the lock screen appearance. So you can set one lock screen for when your Work Focus is turned on and another for workouts.

Apple has added specific Focus filters that apply your iPhone’s Focus mode to apps. For example, in Safari, you can limit which tabs are displayed depending on which Focus mode you have active.

Apple Maps adds public transit fare cards

Maps get several updates. You can plan trips with up to 15 different stops along the way. If you plan a trip using the Maps app on your Mac, you can share it with your iPhone.

And in something similar to what Google announced for Google Wallet in Android 13, you can see public transit estimates and add more money to a fare card from Apple Maps.

Craig Federighi Shows Off New Quick Start Feature At WWDC Keynote

In iOS 16, you can customize Quick Start with a specific child’s iCloud parental controls and settings.

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Checklist for iCloud Family

iCloud gets several new features. One of the more interesting ones is the ability to quickly set up a new device for your child. When Quick Start appears, you have the option to choose a user for the new device and use any existing parental controls that you previously selected and configured. However, this isn’t what many of us still want: the ability to set up individual users for the same device.

There’s a new family checklist with tips for updating settings for your kids as they get older, like a reminder to check location sharing settings or share your iCloud Plus subscriptions.

For more, check out everything Apple announced at WWDC 2022

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