Apple iOS 16: All the new key features that will come to iPhones

·13-min read
Apple iOS 16 features
Apple iOS 16 features

The Apple iOS 16 went live on 12 September. The features of iOS 16 — the latest operating system update from Apple — were first revealed at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2022. It is available for all Apple phones, starting with iPhone 8 and above.

Apple releases major updates every year. Unlike Google Android, Apple’s updates are available for download for all supported devices at the same time.

During the release of the iOS 16 at the WWDC 2022, Apple said that it brings the “biggest update ever to the Lock Screen.”

“iOS 16 is a big release with updates that will change the way you experience the iPhone,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, at the conference.

The iOS 16 live release came less than a week after the launch of the new iPhone 14 series at the Apple Event 2022 on 7 September and has four models — iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apple said on the day of launch that the Pro models are the “best iPhones we have ever created.”

Issues with iOS 16

Several initial buyers of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max complained about the camera physically shaking when used with third-party apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok.

On 19 September 2022, it was reported in the media that Apple will fix the bug problem with a software update set to release in the last week of the month.

This was not the first problem with iOS 16. Users have already been asked to update the operating system with iOS 16.0.1 to fix an issue with FaceTime and iMessage activation. According to The Wall Street Journal, users have also been facing issues such as freezing of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models after data is transferred to them from older models, as well as unwanted “copy and paste” alerts.

The report quotes an Apple spokesperson saying that the company is “aware of the issue, and a fix will be released next week,” without revealing the version number.

Here are the key features Apple iOS 16 brings to devices

Lock Screen

Apple iOS 16 launch
Image credit: Apple

Indeed, the Lock Screen is the main beneficiary of the Apple iOS 16 update. It is more personalised and customisable, covering a wide range of user demography than before. New functions have been added to the Lock Screen, making it more user-friendly and attractive.

A key highlight of the new iPhone Lock Screen is what it does to pictures that appear on it. Photos can be placed in front of the time widget, which lends depth to the picture. iOS 16 can even suggest the most ideal picture for the lock screen from the phone’s gallery. Multiple photos can also be selected for the Lock Screen, which will shuffle throughout the day. Styles can be applied to photos on the Lock Screen to automatically change the colour filter, tinting and font style.

Additionally, the font, type style and colour of the date-and-time display on the Lock Screen can be customised. It is also possible to similarly customise other widgets, including new ones. Time zones, battery levels, calendar events, alarms and Activity ring progress are among the customisable widgets on iOS 16. All of them can be added to the Lock Screen for a quick look at the information provided by them.

There is also a WidgetKit API, which places widgets from third-party apps near the time for user ease. The widgets can be viewed in circular, textual or rectangular formats.

New curated galleries from Apple collections are part of iOS 16. The collections include Pride and Unity theme Lock Screens and other significant imagery from Apple. There is also a Weather wallpaper and an Astronomy wallpaper, which show live weather conditions and the solar system, respectively.

Patterned Lock Screens can also be created using any of the preferred emojis of the user. While listening to songs, the Now Playing controls can be expanded to a full-screen view using Live Activities to highlight the album cover.

One of the major features woven within the Lock Screen is the manner in which notifications appear. They now roll in from the bottom of the Lock Screen and can be arranged in multiple viewing styles — count, expanded list and stacked.

The Live Lock Screen can be switched to a new one simply by tapping and holding on the screen.

In an update to the iOS 16 to be done later in 2022, Apple says it will introduce the Live Activities feature to help users stay informed in real-time such as game progress.


Introduced in iOS 15, the Focus mode gets one of the major updates in iOS 16. Focus essentially helps a user see what they absolutely want to see on their Lock Screen, thus cutting out the clutter. Applying Focus filters can bring up notifications from apps, such as Messages and Mail, that are absolutely relevant to the user.

Like the Lock Screen feature, Focus can be personalised as well. There are multiple types of Focus modes provided by Apple. According to the company, the data-rich Lock Screen is good when using the Work Focus option, while the photo Lock Screen is best for Personal Focus.

Users can select the apps and the people from whom they intend to receive notifications while setting the Focus feature.

Focus can be activated by swiping to the corresponding Lock Screen. According to Apple, it can also be turned on at a set time or location or while using an app.


Image credit: Apple

Several notable functionalities have been added to the Messages in iOS 16. One of the biggest developments is the ability to edit and even recall a message already sent.

A message can be edited within 15 minutes after it has been sent. However, recipients will be able to see the edits made to the message. Messages can be edited up to five times. There is also a two-minute time limit to recall or unsend.

Like Mail, Apple has also made it possible to mark messages as unread. This feature is designed to help users to mark messages for a later response when they don’t have the time to do so immediately.

According to Apple, Android users will be able to see an emoji reaction to SMS responses from an Apple user when the latter reacts with a Tapback.

Messages can be filtered by individual SIM. Audio messages can be fast-forwarded or rewound.

Another of the most significant updates that Apple iOS 16 brings to Messages is the ability to recover recently deleted messages. Any message deleted can be recovered within 30 days from the day of deletion.

Users can share activities synchronised between them such as games, music and movies, while messaging each other.

Messages now also function more effectively for office-related work, as they can be used to invite multiple users to join a project or a document or spreadsheet. It works on apps such as Files, Keynote, Pages, Notes and Safari as well as third-party apps. Edits can be tracked from the activity updates at the top of the Messages thread.


Apple iOS 16 launch
Image credit: Apple

Some of the most prominent features of Apple iOS16 come in Mail, especially in its search option. However, most of the new search features are only available in the English language for Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, the UK and the US and French in France.

These include typos and synonym suggestions which are part of search terms. Users can now move sent email messages to the top of the inbox for quickly sending a follow-up. Notifications for missed attachments or recipients are also now part of the Mail.

Searching for an email displays a richer view of the content that has been shared.

Among other upgrades to the Mail, messages can be scheduled for sending and a sent email can be recalled (unsent) for up to 30 seconds before it reaches the recipient’s inbox.

For users who need help with returning to an email they may have seen but could not respond, Apple iOS 16’s Remind Me feature makes it possible to mark a date and time for emails to resurface in the inbox.

BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) verified brand iconography is also available to help identify authenticate email messages.

Live Text

Apple iOS 16 launch
Image credit: Apple

Apple has said that all Live Text feature updates are available on iPhone with A12 Bionic and later. The languages that can be recognised using Live Text feature existing ones, such as English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish, as well as three new languages — Japanese, Korean and Ukrainian.

The updates include Live Text in videos, which makes it possible to copy-paste text, translate and lookup words in paused video frames. It works in Photos, Safari and Quick Look, among other apps.

One of the best features Apple has brought to Live Text is the ability to detect and translate languages in photos and videos with a single tap. This also works in converting currencies.

Passkeys and Safari

Safari Tab Group
Image credit: Apple

Passkeys is one of the biggest developments that iOS 16 brings to iPhones, most significantly to the Safari browser.

Passkeys replace the password. End-to-end encrypted and synced across Apple devices — including iPad, Mac and Apple TV — through the iCloud Keychain, Passkeys are not kept on a web server for increased security.

Apple claims that it is “almost impossible for [passkeys] to be phished” because they are specific to the site they are created for and never leave the device.

But how does it function? Passkeys use biometric verification such as Touch ID or Face ID. It is not Apple’s solo creation but has been jointly developed in collaboration with the FIDO Alliance, Google and Microsoft.

As for Safari, it gets the Shared Tab feature, which enables multiple users to share a single tab, add their own and view Tab Group updates for work.

To make it easier to understand what a Tab Group (pictured) is about, users can pin tabs on multiple groups. Each Tab Group has customisable dedicated start pages.

Safari web page translation also has the Live Text feature and can now translate into Arabic, Dutch, Indonesian, Korean, Polish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese languages as well.

Web push notifications for opt-in notifications in Safari are set to come to iOS 16 in 2023.


Image credit: Apple

The new Magnifier mode in Apple iOS 16 has Door Detection, People Detection and Image Descriptions — features that are designed to assist people with special needs such as those who are blind or have low vision.

The mode helps locate doors, read signs around them and instruct on how to open them.

However, this feature is currently available only on iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro, iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) and iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation).

Apart from Magnifier, the iOS 16 automatically transcribes conversations, audio and video for those who have difficulty hearing or are deaf. This is also available in FaceTime video calls. Currently, the feature is available in English in Canada and the US on iPhone 11. Apple says that it will later come to iPad with A12 Bionic followed by Mac and Apple silicon.

Apple has paid special attention to accessibility. It is evident that the iOS 16 enables the user to make the iPhone learn and identify sounds in the environment, including the specific ringing sound of the doorbell in the user’s home and sounds produced by kitchen appliances.

The iOS 16 also lets users take full control over their Apple Watch from their iPhone. Switch Control or Voice Control can be used on the Apple Watch as well.

Voice Control now also lets users hang up their regular or FaceTime calls with the simple utterance of “hang up.” However, Apple warns that others on the call can hear the user giving the command for hanging up.

Privacy and Security

Apple has worked to improve its privacy and security features. Victims of domestic violence can now use Safety Check, a new feature in the Settings menu, which revokes device access granted to others. It is also possible to manage people and apps who have been given access.

Moreover, apps cannot paste content on the pasteboard from another app without the user’s permission.

In iOS 16, Face ID, Touch ID or passcode is needed to unlock Hidden or Recently Deleted albums in Photos.

There is also a mode called Lockdown, designed to ensure the digital security of users who face “grave, targeted threats.” It limits certain functions of the phone to reduce any spyware attack.

Health and Fitness

Health was one of the most significant topics covered during the Apple Event 2022. In fact, the new Apple Watch Series 8 is designed to particularly help wearers keep a track of their health and fitness levels.

It is, therefore, not a surprise that the iOS 16, too, includes developments in health and fitness tracking.

A medication list can be created on the iPhone by tracking an array of things like the intake of medicines and supplements. Users can take a photo of a medicine with the iPhone camera to add it to the Medications option in the Health app and learn more about it. However, this can only be done on iPhone XS, iPhone XR and later models.

The iOS 16 also alerts users if any medication they may have added to their list has side effects or becomes less effective when consumed with other medications on the list.

Users can create custom schedules, reminders and medication logs in the Health app. The health data can be securely shared with people of trust. Users can customise the level of data they wish to share with others.

For fitness enthusiasts, a daily goal can be set on the iPhone’s Move app. It is enabled to take fitness data from third-party apps and incorporate them within it to give important information such as calories burned during a workout.

The app also uses motion sensors on the iPhone to track steps and distance covered through brisk walking or jogging or other activities. This data is also combined with others for more precise output.

Move, therefore, makes it possible to keep a track of fitness even if the user doesn’t have an Apple Watch.

Other notable features

Apple Maps
Image credit: Apple

The Home app gets a new design, which makes it easier for navigation and control. Apple says that there are improvements to the Home architecture, but they will be available in a separate update later in 2022.

Apple Maps (pictured) is now upgraded with features such as multi-stop routing. Up to 15 stops can be added along a route. Although multi-routing can be done on Mac devices, they can be synced to iPhones before undertaking the journey.

Meanwhile, iOS 16 can calculate transit fares to help estimate the cost of a journey. Users can add transit cards to Wallet directly on Maps as well.

One of the biggest features of iOS 16 comes to Apple Pay and Wallet. Apple Pay Later allows costs to be divided into four equal parts spread over six weeks for later repayment with no interest or fees. The feature is currently available in the US.

Additionally, the Order Tracking feature lets users track information and receipts in Wallet for purchases made using Apple Pay. This works with participating merchants.

The Wallet can now support Keys and IDs. Keys can be shared with trusted persons over Message, Mail and WhatsApp. In the US, verified Wallet ID information can be shared with other apps needing age or identity verification.

(Main and Featured images: Apple)

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