This WWDC was another such instance where Apple brought in a lot of much-awaited features into iOS 16, which collectively will change the iPhone experience exponentially. Let’s start with the most ubiquitous part, the lock screen.
Apple is completely redesigning the lock screen, with loads of customization options for all the elements, including the date, time, and wallpaper. You can now change the font and colour of the date and time display with just the click of a button. There are many options to pick from, including a host of new and specialized widgets just for the lock screen.
You can even configure different widgets on the home and lock screen for different Focus modes available. This way, apps will automatically detect your current focus mode and configure certain settings only to show you apps and notifications related to that particular mode, whether it is work, play, or even sleep.
The wallpapers are also going to become more immersive, as the lock screen can now recognize the depth of field around the subject of the image and adjust the date and time elements accordingly to look more realistic. There are even options to edit the image using new colour filters that can be accessed through the same customization window. You can use the new shuffle feature to make sure you see a new wallpaper every day so the novelty doesn’t wear off.
iMessage has always been a big part of the iOS experience, and it is getting a few new features. The most exciting one is the ability to edit the messages that you've sent for easy elimination of typos. You can even un-send embarrassing messages if you’re quick enough with the new Undo Send feature. For people who just want to ignore the drama, you can now mark message threads as unread, so you don’t have to reply immediately.
There is an added emphasis on sharing, as the ‘Shared with You’ feature is getting released as an API so that developers can integrate their own links, files, and photos shared in Messages. You can even start a SharePlay instance right from within iMessage for easy viewing access.
The theme of sharing continues on to the Photos app, where you can now create an ‘iCloud Shared Photo library’ that can be shared between up to five people. People to who you grant access will be able to add, edit and delete the photos in the album, so pick carefully. Photos shared in this folder can be seen through the ‘Memories’ and ‘Photos’ widgets even without opening the app. Apple is quite encouraging about this feature, as they have added a special button in the camera app settings, so you can directly add photos into a special Photo Library.
For people who don’t want to share the entire image, you can now just press on the subject of the photo, and the photos app will recognize the subject and crop it out. This way, you can share the selected subject/object as a sticker through the messages app.
In order to make sure all this sharing takes place in a safe ecosystem, Apple has beefed up its security systems, going both ways. On the one hand, you can now share keys with other users for easy access. The company is even bringing the ability to create and carry digital ID cards as a valid form of authentication to more documents and more jurisdictions.
At the same time, Safety Check lets you turn off these sharing details and immediately log out of any other devices if you've just left an abusive relationship and don’t want the other person to have sensitive information about you.
For sharing things in a secure manner within the family itself, iOS now features a new parental control interface called ‘Family Sharing’. This includes a quick set-up tool called ‘Quick Start’, which will make it easier for users to create accounts for their kids and control what they see. There is a special ‘Family Checklist’ that will guide you through the different parental control features and how you can use them best.
An accessibility addition to the parental control settings is the integration of Messages. This means that if kids want to extend their screen time, they can now just send you a text, and you can allow them more time right from the message’s app itself, rather than doing into the ‘Settings’.
Keeping up with the theme of security, the company continues to expand its network of secure payment outlets supporting Apple Pay. Select outlets are also working to support the new ‘Apple Pay Later option, which will let you divide the cost of any particular item into four equal payments spread over six weeks. You don’t need any verification or documentation, and there are no interest payments either. The Wallet app manages all upcoming payments and existing dues. In fact, you can even track your orders right through the Wallet app, as merchants deliver receipts and tracking info about your purchase.
Another vital service that Apple is looking to catch up in is mapping. The company has been steadily increasing the quality of its maps, with new 3D representations added for major landmarks. You can even observe the elevations of building around you while driving for better special awareness.
The company is integrating other sources of information into the app itself, which will allow you to discover more things. One such integration is the ‘Look Around’ feature with Zillow. You can find new information about places around you and easily integrate them into your existing route by asking Siri to add it as a new stop on the way. In fact, the new Maps app lets you add up to 15 stops between yourself and the final destination, so you don’t have to reconfigure your map after each step.
The new system is even smart enough to recognize which transit system will be optimal for which stops and show you the expected fare it will take to reach the final place, including all 15 stops. You can pay for all the travelling with just your Wallet app, as now you have the ability to add all your transit cards to the ‘Wallet’ in your iPhone and keep it topped up with a balance whenever you need it. This will go a long way in improving your travelling experience.
For those who prefer travelling in their cars, the company is planning to take over your entire infotainment system with the new generation of Car Play. You get a whole new custom interface that can work with not only your infotainment screen but the driver screen as well, displaying customizable gauges and counters for all the relevant car information, like speed, rpm, engine, and performance information, as well as turn-by-turn navigation.
The infotainment screen will get all the usual apps and icons, along with all the new widgets, which can now be displayed using CarPlay. Apple is working with various car manufacturers to find the best layout to suit all their upcoming models. So, you can expect to see Apple interfaces in many new models from many different brands, including Audi, Jaguar, Ford, Volva, Honda, Mercedes, and others.
Even when you reach home, Apple expects the iPhone to play a big role in integrating all the devices and appliances in your life with the ‘Home’ app. To make sure you don’t have any compatibility issues, Apple is working with Matter to guarantee interoperability between smart home devices.
This means that you will be able to connect with a larger number of devices through your Homekit and control them through the redesigned Home app, which features an updated interface and new categories for easy segregation and control, like climate, lights, and more. Each category will give you a nice overview of how your appliances are performing without having to delve deeper into each individual one.
This app truly lets you control everything in your home, whether you’re doing it from your iPhone, iPad, or even Mac. You don’t even need to touch a single button; Siri will listen to all your command and do exactly what you want.
Voice & Image Recognition
Apple is also catching up to Google in terms of voice recognition, with Siri getting a lot better at understanding various accents and speech patterns. The system has improved enough that you can now avail of ‘On-Device Dictation’ on iOS. You can even edit the text even as you continue dictating using the on-screen keyboard.
Similarly, the much-beloved ‘Live Text’ feature that lets you highlight and copy text from images is now being rolled out to video. This will revolutionize note-taking, as now, you don’t have to take multiple pictures of the same text to get it all. You can just take a video of you flipping through pages and simply pause at the right moment to copy everything.
This improvement in audio performance can also be felt in the listening experience as well. Airpods can now do better spatial audio by using their own sensor data and the TrueDepth front camera of your phone to measure the distance between your ears. This will give you a more personalized soundstage that feels more real.
There are countless other small tweaks that the company has done for the upcoming version of iOS, which truly seems like a strong contender against the Android ecosystem. We will have to wait until the full release to see how many are actually worth using. So, wait for our full review when it does come out.