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iOS 16 features, release window and supported devices

iOS 16 on an iPhone
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After months of anticipation, Apple has unveiled iOS 16 - the latest operating system for iPhone and the successor to iOS 15. The company took to the stage at WWDC 2022, Apple's yearly developer conference, and revealed every key feature we can expect from the update.

It's a release that brings improvements to many apps, from a redesigned Home app for your smart appliances to better privacy features, and a big focus on the lock screen, with new fonts, colors and themes to choose from.

Apple has confirmed that the public beta will arrive in July, with the finished software arriving in late 2022, for iPhone 8 devices and above. Here's everything we've heard so far about the new software.

iOS 16: Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next big update for iOS
  • When does it come out? Late 2022, but the public beta will be out in July
  • How much does it cost? It's free
  • Which phones are supported? Anyone with an iPhone 8 and newer will be able to update to iOS 16, which means if you have an iPhone 7 or older you're out of luck.

iOS 16 Latest News

June 14: Will lossless audio come to the AirPods Pro 2? The technological groundwork ought to be in iOS 16, and so far, no one has stumbled across any evidence of it.

June 13: In an exclusive interview with TechRadar, Apple's Craig Federighi and VP of Design Alan Dye take us inside Apple's remake of the Lock Screen -- an 'act of love,' Federighi said. 

June 11: iOS 16 will be a bumper release this time, with many improvements to features across the operating system, on a scale arguably not seen since iOS 8. Here are the 7 best new features in iOS 16.

June 7: Support for the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons have been discovered in the latest iOS 16 developer beta. With a public beta near, you can soon try Nintendo's controllers on your iPhone for yourself.

iOS 16 Release Date

Apple tells us that iOS 16 will be released in late 2022, with the public beta available to iPhone users from July.

The company hasn't been more specific about the launch date than that, but for years now Apple has been launching its major iOS updates in September of their release year, so we're almost certain the finished version of iOS 16 will land in September 2022, likely alongside the iPhone 14 line.

iOS 16 Features

iOS 16 Overview

(Image credit: TechRadar)

There are all sorts of new and improved features coming with iOS 16, and we've detailed the key ones below.

Customizable lock screens

Various aspects of iOS 16 shown on iPhones

(Image credit: Apple)

With iOS 16, you'll be able to customize your lock screen by tapping in any area to change the text font and colors.

Complications (which are essentially widgets) can also be enabled here, a feature lifted from the Apple Watch. You'll be able to add three of these to your lock screen, while the Now Playing screen is being moved towards the bottom for easier access with your thumb.

You won't be limited to just one lock screen either. Similar to creating a watch face on your Apple Watch, you can swipe between different lock screens, so you can have access to different widgets based on your needs.

Focus

Screenshots showing Focus on iOS 16

Tim Cook on stage at WWDC  (Image credit: Apple)

Focus mode is also getting some updates, and some of these tie into the lock screen, as the lock screen that's shown can automatically be switched based on the Focus profile you have.

For example, a 'Meeting' focus profile could make your lock screen change wallpaper and offer a row of widgets showing details of that event.

You can also use 'Focus Filters' to block out tabs in Safari, accounts in Mail, events in Calendar, and more, to help you manage your workflow.

Notifications

WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

Notifications are also getting improvements, with 'Live Activities', which are essentially pinned widget-like notifications that allow you to check the score of a game, track the progress of a food delivery, and more.

Notifications also have a new design, aimed at making them visually pop, and feature new animations - rolling in from the bottom of the lock screen so they're easy to see at a glance while staying out of the way.

And you can choose to view notifications in an expanded list view, a stacked view, or a hidden view.

Messages

WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has added several new features to Messages. 'Undo send' has arrived for one, allowing you to delete a message for up to 15 minutes after you've sent it – for example if you realize you've sent it to the wrong person. Similarly, you can also edit messages in the first 15 minutes. Note though that this only works for iPhone to iPhone messages.

SharePlay is also coming to the app, so you can play a movie in Disney Plus for example, and share it with someone via Messages.

Dictation has also been improved, as it now lets users move fluidly between voice and touch inputs, so you can type to add text or move the cursor without having to stop Dictation.

You can also recover messages up to 30 days after deleting them, send an invitation to collaborate on a project in Messages, and get alerts when someone makes an edit in a collaboration.

Accessibility

Hinted at by Apple in May, several new accessibility features are heading to iOS 16, such as door detection, which helps you locate doors, read signs around them, and get instructions for opening them.

There's also the option to view live captions in a FaceTime call, control your Apple Watch from your iPhone, hang up phone calls with Siri, and more.

Live text is seeing improvements as well – you can copy and paste text in video, alongside being able to copy and translate text.

Wallet

A screenshot showing Wallet on iOS 16

(Image credit: Apple)

Wallet is seeing privacy improvements, with in-app ID verification being enabled for third-party apps.

Tap to pay on iPhone is also arriving for iOS 16, removing the need for any point of sale terminals. Plus, you can view receipts and track orders directly from Wallet.

There's also Apple Pay Later, which splits purchases into four interest-free payments spread over six weeks, and Order Tracking, which lets you see the latest information on your Apple Pay orders.

Maps

WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

Maps will finally enable you to store recent trips in the app, and you can send them from a Mac or iPad device.

You can also add multiple stops on a route, and while on a journey you can ask Siri to add another destination, hands-free, in case another errand pops up, while 'Look Around', Apple's take on Google Street View, is being opened up to third-party apps.

Plus, you can see transit fares, and - without leaving Maps - you can add transit cards to Wallet, replenish your card, and see low balances.

Sports

iOS 16 is seeing a big push on sports, with Apple News getting a new My Sports section to let you view schedules, standings and scores for your favorite teams. 

Live updates for sporting events can also be added to the lock screen, so if you're not able to tune in you'll still be kept up to date with the score.

Family Sharing

Screenshots showing Family Sharing on iOS 16

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's Family Sharing feature enables you and your family to share an account, for example to view photos and videos, and so that parents can approve purchases made by minors.

In iOS 16, it will easier for parents to set age-appropriate restrictions on content, and parents or guardians will be able to respond to Screen Time requests in Messages.

A quick start feature for iPad will let you sync settings that you've configured on your iPhone to an iPad simply by moving your phone close to the tablet, and there's also a Family Checklist feature, making it easier for you to be confident that all of the content on an iPhone is secure and child-safe.

The ability to share photos and videos over iCloud has been widely requested, and iCloud Shared Photo Library will allow up to six people to share a library. Users will be able to send photos to the Shared Library using a new toggle in the Camera app, and will receive intelligent suggestions to share photos that include other users of a shared library.

Safety Check

WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

A new privacy tool called Safety Check has been introduced to help those at risk from violence or harassment by partners.

Users can quickly revoke all access to Messages and other accounts that they’ve granted to a partner, and an emergency reset feature helps users to easily sign out of iCloud on all their other devices, reset privacy permissions, and limit messaging to just the device in their hand. Users can also stop sharing their location with this tool.

It also lets you generally check and manage which people and apps you've given access to your information.

Home App is redesigned

A screenshot showing the Home app on iOS 16

(Image credit: Apple)

In conjunction with the incoming new Matter smart home standard, the Home app is getting a redesign to make it easier to manage your smart appliances and rooms.

You'll be able to see all your rooms in a single view, alongside categories for lights, climate, security and more. You can tap on a category to see more detailed status information, and view up to four security cameras at once.

You can also add smart home widgets to the lock screen, allowing you to view the status of your home at a glance, and quickly access smart home controls.

Spatial Audio

You can use your iPhone's TrueDepth Camera to create a personal Spatial Audio profile for your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, for what Apple calls "an even more precise and immersive listening experience".

Fitness

Screenshot from Apple's WWDC 2022 keynote

(Image credit: Future)

Apple's Fitness app is being made available to all iPhone users, even if they don't have an Apple Watch to help them track their fitness. The app will use the motion sensors of your iPhone along with step and distance tracking, and workouts from third-party apps, to help you achieve your daily Move goal and estimate your calorie burn.

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app or one that's about to launch, drop him a line.