jJust in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 lineup, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve spent the last week testing the final version of the software, and there are plenty of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, improvements to the Messages app, and some smarter AI tricks. Just as important, it has no bugs. The latest edition of Apple’s mobile operating system works with the iPhone 8 and newer models, though some features require the relatively recent A12 chip. (More on that later.)

This year’s version of iOS is an update you’ll notice, something that was hard to say about iOS 15, whose most notable features relate to media sharing, Focus and SharePlay modes. iOS 14, now two years old, added widgets to the icon grid and shook up your home page experience for the first time since the iPhone launched. With iOS 16, Apple has finally tackled the lock screen.


  • Customizable lock screen
  • Visual Lookup is smarter and more useful
  • haptic typing
  • Very few launch errors


  • Some features require the latest iPhone hardware
  • Others require third-party app support

A personalized lock screen

The lock screen used to feature a clock and not much else. Things are a little different now, but let’s start with the clock. The font is thicker and you can even choose the color of the text and there is now space for widgets. You may not like the look of the new default font (I don’t), but the good news is that it’s customizable, with multiple font styles and colors. Of course, you can choose photos for the lock screen, which is nothing new, and you can apply filter styles and even choose a random selection of photos to cycle through. If the images were taken in Portrait mode, you can also enable a multi-layered photo effect, with the subject of the photo appearing in front of the time. If you have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review for our thoughts on Always On Display and, naturally, Apple’s new Dynamic Island.

There are two different widget areas that you can customize. First, there’s a thin box above the clock that’s best suited for one-line text (think: the date, chances of rain, or your next calendar event). Below that is a box that can hold up to four different widgets: a mix of 2×1 and 1×1 icons. From the lock screen, you can tap on them to access the corresponding one, but don’t expect to get more information by long-pressing on the icons, which seems like a very Apple way of expanding the information these widgets offer. . Maybe in iOS 16.1 or iOS 17?

iOS 16 Review

Matt Smith/Engadget

Similar to the debut of home screen widgets in iOS 14, it will take a while for third-party app developers to include widgets in their updates and on your phone, but I’m sure productivity, tracking services of fitness and others will jump into the market. chance. Google in particular, seems ready to jump on board: his next Gmail Widget It will absolutely get a spot on my lock screen when it’s available.

The new lock screen also maintains some classic features. You will still see signal strength and battery icons (now with a percentage readout), and the flashlight and camera shortcuts are still available to tap. Interestingly, the battery indicator only visually replicates how charged it is when the battery is below 20 per cent, which is contradictory when it’s at 50 per cent, for example.

The lock screen update also works as a revamped way to bring up an iOS 15 feature that can be quite laborious to set up: focus modes. You can now assign a focus mode to individual lock screens (one for personal use, one for work, and one for sleeping), each with their own custom widget layouts and photos. If you rarely change your wallpaper during the weekdays, you can set, for example, a fun weekend image of your family and assign it to your personal focus mode.

Instead, I have a pretentious motivational quote on a black background for when I’m meeting deadlines and have my phone set to Do Not Disturb. The ability to switch between focus modes makes them easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done it in the past from the top right dropdown, but I didn’t. With iOS 16, I am already using focus modes more often.

A better messaging experience

iOS 16 Review

Matt Smith/Engadget

Apple’s native messaging app has some unique tricks, including new visual search features. It now handles copying and pasting images, extracting photo themes, screenshots, and more, turning them into easy-to-share stickers. Long-press on the object/animal/person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or newer) will go to great lengths to cut it out of the background, ready to paste it somewhere else.

It’s amazingly accurate for such a lazy method. I’m lovin ‘it. Visual search abilities in iOS 16 are even more expansive, with the new ability to extract text from a video. In addition to videos you take yourself, it should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.

Messages has also expanded its sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets, and more, as long as they’re saved in one of Apple’s office software file types. Hopefully third-party support for Microsoft and Google Suite is coming soon.

Apple is also making up for lost time elsewhere. Finally, you can edit and unsend messages in the Messages app, if you’re quick enough. You will have up to 15 minutes to edit after you first send your message, with the ability to change your message up to five times. You can see edited messages from other people who are also using iOS 16, which will be grayed out (blue?) below the corrected message. Unsend features are only for iPhone to iPhone messages.

Similarly, you can now undo send and schedule emails from the native mail app. (Finally). There are also other modern features you’re probably already used to in Gmail, like suggestions when you’ve forgotten an attachment or recipient. .

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