26 of the Best New Features in iOS 16

26 of the Best New Features in iOS 16

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Ladies and gentlemen, start your iPhones: iOS 16 is finally here. After three months of software testing, Apple has finally released its big new iPhone update to all compatible devices. With it comes a slew of new and exciting features. Some, you might know already, such as the ability to edit iMessages, but others, you definitely don’t. Here are 26 features you need to know about before you install iOS 16 on your iPhone.

While these 26 features are all a part of the newly-released iOS 16, not all iPhones will get all features. Depending on your particular iPhone, you may see all of these new changes after the update, or only some. After all, Apple supports iPhones all the way back to the 8, so there are going to be some features cut from older devices. You can see a complete list of features exclusive to specific iPhone models here.

Unfortunately, if your iPhone is too old, it won’t get iOS 16 at all—if you want these new features on your iPhone, you’ll need to consider upgrading.

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You can completely customize your Lock Screen

You can completely customize your Lock Screen

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Image: Apple

Your iPhone’s Lock Screen will never look the same, and that’s the point. With iOS 16, Apple is handing you the tools to totally customize each component of your iPhone’s Lock Screen, from the text font and color, to wallpaper effects, to new Apple Watch-like complications for easy data on the go. Not to mention, you can create and save as many Lock Screens as you like, freeing you up to switch between screens depending on your mood.

While Apple tries to make all of its features user-friendly, this feature in particularly gets a bit complicated, thanks to the many, many customizable options available. Check out our full guide here for an easy walk-through.

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Your notifications are on the bottom of the screen now

Your notifications are on the bottom of the screen now

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Screenshot: Jake Peterson

There’s another big change coming to the Lock Screen this year. Your notifications are now placed on the bottom of the screen, making them easier to access, especially when holding your iPhone with one hand. While there was nothing wrong with where notifications were before, I think a lot of us are going to end up liking this new placement.

If you don’t like the new placement, however, don’t worry. A simple tap or flick up on the notification stack will move the alerts back to normal. Plus, just as with your Lock Screen, there are new ways to customize your notifications, if you’d like. One cool new feature, Live Activities, won’t be available at launch. It gives you real-time alerts for specific apps, like your Uber driver’s current ETA, or the score for a big game.

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You can lift the subjects out of photos like magic

You can lift the subjects out of photos like magic

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That’s not hyperbole. You can literally lift the subject of any given photo right off the image and drop or paste it somewhere else. It feels like magic when you first use it, and, honestly, every time thereafter. There are surely plenty of legitimate use cases for this feature, but, alas, I only use it to amaze myself time and time again.

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Check out your iPhone’s battery percentage at all times again

Check out your iPhone’s battery percentage at all times again

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Photo: MichaelJayBerlin (Shutterstock)

It’s not your imagination: Apple really did remove the battery percentage from your iPhone’s menu bar. The change came with the iPhone X way back in 2017, and the design stuck. Since then, in order to see your percentage on a Face ID iPhone, you had to go to Control Center.

Now the battery percentage is back, baby! If you want to know exactly how much battery life your iPhone has at any given moment, here’s how.

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Continuity Camera turns your iPhone into your Mac’s webcam

Continuity Camera turns your iPhone into your Mac’s webcam

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Photo: Nopparat Khokthong (Shutterstock)

No, seriously. With iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, your iPhone instantly and seamlessly becomes your Mac’s webcam, ready to go for FaceTime calls, Zoom, or any other video program. You’ll sadly need to wait for macOS Ventura to land later this fall, but once it does, this will be a prime feature to try out.

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You can handoff FaceTime calls to other device

You can handoff FaceTime calls to other device

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Photo: Dean Drobot (Shutterstock)

FINALLY. Just as you can handoff phone calls from an iPhone to a Mac to an iPad, so, too, can you now handoff FaceTime calls between these devices. It makes so much sense! If I’m chatting with someone on my iPhone, but I need to look something up on my Mac, I’d like to switch the call to my Mac so I don’t need to prop my iPhone up against it like an idiot.

On the flip side, you might start a call on your Mac, but need to move. Seamlessly transitioning the call to your iPhone allows you to do that without having to hang up on your Mac and call them back from your phone.

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You can enable live transcriptions in FaceTime calls

You can enable live transcriptions in FaceTime calls

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On supported iPhones (iPhone 11 and up), you can enable live transcriptions in FaceTime calls, which automatically creates captions for whatever your friend is saying. For help setting up this awesome feature, check out our article.

Focus gets an overhaul

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Image: Khamosh Pathak

iOS 15’s excellent Focus feature now is expanded with iOS 16. For example, you can choose to tie certain Lock Screens to specific Focuses: When you’re working, enjoy a professional wallpaper with minimalist alerts and complications. When you’re on your time, automatically switch to a wallpaper with family or friends, with all the notifications and data points you want to see.

You can see how Apple updated Focus in iOS 16 in our full guide here.

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Edit & undo iMessages (finally)

Edit & undo iMessages (finally)

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Photo: DenPhotos (Shutterstock)

Apple’s iMessage is the most convenient way for iPhone users to chat with each other, but it sometimes falls behind other chat apps in terms of features. With iOS 16, Apple finally brings the ability to both edit and undo iMessages, catching up to other services that have had similar features for years.

There are caveats to edit and undo, however. Once you send a message, you have 15 minutes to either edit or undo it. You can edit it as many times as you like, but once that window of time is up, the message is locked in as-is, complete with an edit history of each change you made. Deleted messages are available for up to 30 days before being permanently erased.

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Dictation works so much better now

Dictation works so much better now

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Screenshot: Jake Peterson

Dictation (or speech to text) is a great way to craft a message hands-free. However, it isn’t perfect. Sometimes iOS gets it wrong (occasionally very wrong), but you’re forced to close out of Dictation before fixing it because your iPhone hides the keyboard while the feature is engaged.

Well, no longer! Dictation now keeps the keyboard on-screen while you speak, allowing you to quickly make manual adjustments and continue on with your voice. You can also select text, then replace it with your voice. Better yet, Dictation now adds punctuation automatically for long messages.

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Apple Maps pulls out all the stops

Apple Maps pulls out all the stops

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Screenshot: Jake Peterson

New to Maps this year is multi-stop routing. This feature allows you to add up to 15 stops on your current route, which is perfect for those times you need to be 15 places at once. If you’re already in transit, you can ask Siri to add new stops to your route. Plus, you can plan routes in Maps on macOS Ventura, which will then sync to your iPhone.

Seven new cities, including Las Vegas, are also being added to the “map view” feature, which gives you a detailed 3D view of the city. If you rely on public transit, you’ll see great information in Maps, including fares, transit cards, and the ability to reload those cards when available.

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Don’t forget to unlock the hidden haptic keyboard

Don’t forget to unlock the hidden haptic keyboard

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Photo: New Africa (Shutterstock)

Apple didn’t advertise this new feature much, and it’s a shame, because it’s cool! The company added a haptic option to its stock keyboard, which, until now, required you to download a third-party option if you wanted a physical response to each keypress. It’s easy to enable, although it is a bit hidden.

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Unhide your wifi passwords

Unhide your wifi passwords

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While Apple’s keychain feature is excellent for viewing all of your accounts’ passwords in one secure place, the company has traditionally held off on making it easy to see your wifi passwords. With iOS 16, however, Apple makes it simple to unhide these passwords, although they still aren’t found in the Passwords section of Settings.

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Keep yourself safe with Safety Check

Keep yourself safe with Safety Check

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Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Your iPhone is a gateway to your personal life. It lets you share important details about yourself, such as your current location, with trusted contacts and apps. But what happens when that trust breaks? If someone no longer has your best interest in mind, you likely want to make sure they don’t have access to anything of yours, including your location and other personal data.

Safety Check in iOS 16 gives you an easy way to manage all those permissions. It lets you see exactly what data you’re sharing with whom, and allows you to break those connections at any time. There’s even an option to revoke permissions for all contacts, in case you need to take drastic action. It’s a great feature for all of us to use, and we recommend giving it a try when you update.

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You can play games with Nintendo Switch controllers

You can play games with Nintendo Switch controllers

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Photo: I putu andre alexander (Shutterstock)

iOS 16 now supports Nintendo Switch controllers for iPhone games. Expect companies to start making iPhone cases that support the Joy-Cons, turning your phone into something like an iPhone Switch.

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Schedule and undo emails in the Mail app

Schedule and undo emails in the Mail app

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Photo: hilalabdullah (Shutterstock)

The Mail app has never been a bastion of powerful or professional features. However, Apple has taken steps to make it better. This year, we finally have the ability to schedule messages in the app, as well as undo them, which is something I’ve had to rely on third-party clients for in the past.

There are plenty of other new Mail features, as well, including Mail reminders, updates to Mail with Focus, smarter search suggestions, key sharing from Wallet, and more.

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Notes gains some useful features

Notes gains some useful features

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It’s a modest update for Notes in iOS 16, but useful nonetheless. We now have an “Add to Quick Note” option in the share sheet, which should prove useful when adding links or images to Quick Notes on the fly. Smart Folders now have a ton of new rules, including Date Created, Date Modified, Shared, Mentions, Checklists, Attachments, Folder, Quick Notes, Pinned Notes, and Locked Notes.

Locked notes are much easier to use now, too. In the past, you needed to set a separate password to lock these notes (and who needs another password to remember). Now, it’s all tied to your iPhone’s passcode. Plus, you can add people to collaborate on shared notes via a link.

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Pin important Reminders lists like iMessage chats

Pin important Reminders lists like iMessage chats

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You can now pin important lists to the top of your Reminders app like you do iMessage threads, so the things you really need to get done don’t slip by you.

But that’s not all: You can view your completed tasks in a new, convenient smart list, add rich text to your Reminders notes, save and reuse templates, organize your schedule for morning, afternoon, and evening, and you can even include items due today in the app’s notification badge count.

Apple expands Live Text

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Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Live Text, introduced in iOS 15, made it easy to to copy and paste text out of any image. Now, Apple is expanding those capabilities. You can use the feature to copy text when pausing a video, which feels like the future. Plus, the Translate app has a camera view, which lets you choose text in front of you and translate it without leaving the app.

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Hang up a phone call with Siri

Hang up a phone call with Siri

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Hanging up the phone will never be as cool as it was during the flip phone era, where you could angrily end a communique with a snap (although I suppose Samsung is bringing back the trend). Nevertheless, iOS 16 does make hanging up phone calls a bit different, anyway, now that it gives you the ability to hang up using Siri.

After you set up the feature, you can simply say, “Hey Siri, hang up” to end your phone or FaceTime call.

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iOS 16 makes it easy to delete duplicate photos

iOS 16 makes it easy to delete duplicate photos

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Who takes just one photo at a time? To make sure you really get the shot, you have to take at least three or four pictures, right? Unfortunately, that has the added consequence of cluttering your library with duplicates.

Apple has, in the past, hidden these duplicates to make your library easier to scroll through. But now, you can easily delete these duplicates to truly clean things up. Follow our full guide here for more information.

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Paste edits across multiple photos

Paste edits across multiple photos

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If you frequently edit your photos on your iPhone, you’ll love this feature. You can now paste your edits across multiple photos, saving you a ton of time when making similar edits to groups. Before, of course, you’d need to replicate the process for each photo you wanted to edit.

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Lockdown Mode locks down your iPhone

Lockdown Mode locks down your iPhone

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Well, probably not your iPhone. Apple developed Lockdown Mode as a feature for high-profile individuals who are targeted by cybercriminals, including those working for governments and large organizations. As the name implies, it severely locks down the features on your iPhone, to help protect against the common tactics malicious users use to track and hack you.

This feature is entirely voluntary, but it is standard on all iPhones running iOS 16. If you think you’d benefit from it, or want to know more in general, check out our guide here.

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Tapback works with SMS now

Tapback works with SMS now

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One of the worst things about Apple not adopting RCS is Tapback is a nightmare between iPhones and Androids. You know what I mean: A “Like” or a “Love” reaction on a message doesn’t appear as such as an SMS. Instead, you see the full text readout: “Jake Loved ‘Want to grab dinner at 6?’” It only furthers the divide between our two mobile OSs.

Luckily, this changes now. Once you update to iOS 16, you will no longer see these full readouts. Rather, all Tapbacks will appear as they should, sparing your sanity. It helps that Google fixed this issue on their end already, too, so no one has to deal with this bullshit anymore.

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Family Sharing gets some big updates

Family Sharing gets some big updates

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For the parents out there, iOS 16 is a big upgrade. There’s now a new way to set age-appropriate restrictions, a new quick setup for all parental controls, and an option to set up a child’s iPhone for the first time. Best of all, you can now approve or deny screen time requests from Messages, instead of diving back into the Settings app.

You might also find Family Checklist useful, which provides plenty of tips on improving your Family Sharing experience, such as updating your child’s settings as they grow up, and enabling location sharing.

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Insert emoji into texts with Siri

Insert emoji into texts with Siri

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When you send a text with Siri, the assistant will now add emojis when you speak them, rather than use an emoticon (or just the word you said, when all else fails).

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