iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 betas show off new collaborative features and useful bug fixes

iPadOS 16 features
(Image credit: Future)

Apple wasted no time, releasing the first beta of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 to developers, just days after the public launches of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1.

Looking at the official release notes, we see the beta will finally allow people to get their hands on the Freeform app for iPad, which was first revealed in June 2022 during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). It's a digital canvas that lets users collaborate on projects alongside other people. Stage Manager is seeing the return of external display support but for M1 and M2 iPads only, as Apple continues to figure out what to do with the desktop management app.

What’s coming to iOS 16.2 is technically still unknown, but people across the internet have been spilling the beans. One addition is a new accidental report notice for the Emergency SOS feature discovered by a Twitter user, which may be useful when someone accidentally activates the emergency support tool. If you trigger Emergency SOS, your iPhone will ask if you did this intentionally. It appears Apple is trying to collect some data on the tool for a potential update.

iPadOS 16.2 changes

When it comes to the Freeform app, it’s unknown just how fully fleshed out the app is, but looking at online reports, it looks pretty close to being finished. All of the features shown off at the initial June announcement appear to be present, including the ability to add sticky notes for planning, support for the Apple Pencil, and the various drawing tools. But it's not ready for release, as there are still some glitches to iron out.

Apple mentions it discovered that Freeform boards can’t be deleted if the device is offline and sometimes iCloud data is randomly disabled for the app. It’s working on a fix for this, but in the meantime, the company recommends as a temporary workaround going into the iPad’s settings and adding an iCloud permission for Freeform. 

Stage Manager can now show up to eight different apps on an external screen thanks to the display support mentioned earlier. The feature has had a rough time since its launch on iPadOS 16, being bogged down by bugs and a rather confusing user interface. While problems are being addressed, Apple had added another one to the list. The release notes mention an issue in Stage Manager where "dragging a second window to the workspace" will hide the Recent Apps list, throwing everything to the far right of the screen.

Coming to iOS 16

iOS 16.2 will see the "architecture" of the Home app restructured to offer better performance for smart home devices, according to reports.

Devices with ProMotion screens (like the iPhone 14 line) will have its SwiftUI tweaked to support a 120Hz refresh rate on its “animated layout changes”. And tucked away in the code, 9to5Mac discovered a new version of Live Activities that “will provide more frequent updates,” but it’s inactive at the moment.

We reached out to Apple to ask about the beta, namely the Home app, and asked if the performance boost for the Home app is in any way related to the Matter standard which launched back in early October. We also asked when will 16.2 be made available to the public. Right now, the beta is a part of the Apple Developer program which you have to enroll in if you want access. This story will be updated if we hear back.

If you’re interested in learning more about Apple’s latest offering, be sure to check out our guide on the five features worth checking out on iPadOS 16.1

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.