Apple unveiled iOS 16 – the latest operating system for iPhone and the successor to iOS 15 – at WWDC 2022 in June last year, but the update didn't actually arrive until September 12, where it coincided with the release of the iPhone 14 line.
Now out in the wild as iOS 16.5 in 2023 – having been through five subsequent updates since its September debut – the software release brings improvements to many apps, with lock screen widgets, better privacy features, improved phone calls and new fonts, colors and emojis chief among the newly arrived features.
iOS 16.6 is reportedly on the way, too, but below, we've rounded up everything you need to know about iOS 16.5, from its compatible iPhones to biggest new features. We've also included a timeline of updates, so you can track when particular features became available. For a look into the future, check out our guide to iOS 17, which is expected to be the next major iOS overhaul.
iOS 16.5: Cut to the chase
- What is it? The latest iteration of iOS 16
- When did it come out? May 18, 2023
- How much does it cost? It's free
- Which phones are supported? iPhone 8 and newer
iOS 16 Latest Updates
June 22, 2023 – Beta testers share the list of iOS 16.6 features on the way soon, with updates incoming for iMessage, Apple News and more.
May 18, 2023 – Apple releases iOS 16.5 in full, which brings patches for several security issues and updates to apps including Spotlight and CarPlay.
March 29, 2023 – Apple releases the first public beta for iOS 16.5, with minor changes on the cards for apps including Siri and Apple News.
March 27, 2023 – iOS 16.4 is out, bringing clearer phone calls, HomeKit tweaks and push notifications from web apps.
January 23, 2023 – iOS 16.3 is out, with Advanced Data Protection, Security Keys, new wallpapers, and support for the HomePod 2.
December 13, 2022 – iOS 16.2 is out, bringing Freeform and security features.
October 24, 2022 – iOS 16.1 is out, bringing refinements and Live Activities.
September 12, 2022 – iOS 16 is available for anyone with an iPhone 8 and above.
July 11, 2022 – The public beta is available to download for anyone with an iPhone 8 and above.
June 14, 2022 – 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, 2022 – 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, 2022 – 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, 2022 – 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.
More of the latest iOS 16 tidbits ▼
June 7: Which phones support iOS 16? TechRadar has a complete list of phones compatible with the new OS.
June 7: iOS 16 will bring fundamental changes to the Messages app. Editing and deleting messages after you sent them is now a thing -- meaning autocorrect is now dead.
May 30: As we get nearer to WWDC, rumors suggest iOS 16 will get a few significant new features, including improvements to your iPhone's lock screen. It could be the most radical iPhone update in years.
May 15: It’s increasingly sounding like iOS 16 will include new apps and major changes, with the latest leak pointing to new ways of interacting with widgets, and even some new Apple apps.
iOS 16.5 release date
iOS 16.5 became available to download on May 18, 2023, following four separate iterative updates to the new OS. iOS 16.6 is expected to become available in late July or early August.
iOS 16 Features
There are all sorts of new and improved features on iOS 16, and we've detailed the key ones below.
Customizable lock screens
With iOS 16, you're 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're able to add three of these to your lock screen, while the Now Playing screen has been moved towards the bottom for easier access with your thumb.
You're not 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.
Apple has introduced new lock screens with each new iterative update to iOS 16, with the latest – iOS 16.5 – bringing Pride-specific wallpapers.
Focus mode also got some updates, many of which 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. We've made a comprehensive guide of how to set up Do Not Disturb and Focus mode to help get you started.
Notifications have also been improved 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 have a new design, too, aimed at making them visually pop, and they also 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.
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 now available on 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.
Clearer cellular phone calls
Perhaps the biggest quality-of-life upgrade to come with iOS 16.4 was Voice Isolation for cellular calls, which helps reduce ambient noise during your phone calls.
This feature was already available on apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime, which you've probably noticed tend to sound better than cellular calls. But with iOS 16.4, it finally came to cellular calls – to access it, you'll just need to swipe down the top-right of the screen (to access the Control Center), tapping Mic Mode, then Voice Isolation.
Hinted at by Apple in May, 2022, several new accessibility features have since arrived on 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 has seen improvements as well – you can copy and paste text in video, alongside being able to copy and translate text.
An improved Podcasts app
If you mainly feed your podcast habit in Apple's default Podcasts app rather than third-party ones, you'll see several small improvements to the overall experience in iOS 16.4.
Firstly, it's now easier to find shows that are part of wider channels or networks. When you follow a show that's part of a channel (for example, a network that produces multiple shows, like Bloomberg or the BBC), you're able to see it in a new dedicated Channels section in your podcast Library.
This is handy, given that many podcasts are now part of wider networks that produce several shows around similar themes. When you tap on a channel, you'll see the shows you follow at the top, plus any subscription options that are available for that network.
Wallet has seen privacy improvements, with in-app ID verification being enabled for third-party apps.
Tap to pay on iPhone also arrived with 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.
Apple Books animations
This one's strictly for fans of the Apple Books app, so a little niche. But if that's you, Apple brought back a strangely satisfying animation to the app with iOS 16.4 – the 'curl' page-turn effect.
For some reason, this animation – which mimics a page being turned over – was removed in iOS 16 as it first appeared. But if you've missed seeing your digital pages turning in the Books app, you'll be happy to see that effect return when you upgrade to iOS 16.4.
Maps now finally enables 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.
iOS 16 saw 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.
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's easier for parents to set age-appropriate restrictions on content, and parents or guardians can respond to Screen Time requests in Messages.
A quick start feature for iPad lest 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 was widely requested, and iCloud Shared Photo Library now allows up to six people to share a library. Users can send photos to the Shared Library using a new toggle in the Camera app, and receive intelligent suggestions to share photos that include other users of a shared library.
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
In conjunction with the new Matter smart home standard, the Home app was redesigned to make it easier to manage your smart appliances and rooms.
You're now 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.
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."
Apple's Fitness app is now 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.
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.
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, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.