It's a sure bet that we're going to get a preview of iOS 16, the next major update to the iPhone's software that's coming later this year. This update should do more than just make a few tweaks here and there — Apple observers are expecting some significant changes to the iOS software that include everything from enhanced existing features to new apps and capabilities altogether.
iOS 16 should look much the same as iOS 15, according to the rumors ahead of the WWDC 2022 keynote today (Monday, June 6). But some big additions could be coming to your iPhone this fall when the full version of iOS 16 is expected to be released.
We'll know all the new iOS 16 features by the end of the WWDC 2022 keynote, which gets underway at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT / 6 p.m. BST. We've got a guide for how to watch the WWDC 2022 livestream and our WWDC 2022 live blog is also now up and running for the very latest news. For now, let's concentrate on the expected iOS 16 features.
iOS 16 lock screen changes
The iPhone lock screen is fairly plain, featuring just the time and date as well any notifications that come through. You can change the wallpaper for your lock screen, choosing among Apple supplied options or even picking one of your own photos. But that's about it.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman expects that to change with iOS 16, reporting that the lock screen is getting new wallpapers that offer widget-like capabilities.
Two years ago, Apple added the ability to put widgets on your iPhone's home screen, and they provided quick at-a-glance info like current weather conditions, upcoming appointments, music playback controls and more. Presumably, lock screen widgets would offer the same functionality, sparring you from having to unlock your iPhone to access relevant info.
This rumored lock screen change would presumably set the stage for Apple to add support for an always-on display capability, something Android phones have offered for years. iPhone 14 rumors suggest that Apple's new iPhone 14 Pro phones will include always-on displays when they launch this fall. It's possible Apple confirms that capability at WWDC 2022 when previewing iOS 16, but more likely, the company will hold off on saying anything about iOS 16 features related to its new iPhones until it's ready to announces those devices.
iOS 16 notification enhancements
It seems fine-tuning notifications is now an annual tradition with Apple's iOS updates. iOS 12 grouped notifications by app and gave you the ability to silence particularly obtrusive apps. iOS 14 shrunk the size of the notification windows for Siri and incoming phone calls, while iOS 15 collected notifications into a twice-daily summary to keep you from feeling bombarded by alerts.
iOS 16 rumors suggest Apple isn't done making changes to how you manage notifications. So what's left to change after the preceding overhauls? Plenty, if you ask my colleague Jordan Palmer, who would like to see a wider range of actions attached to notifications in iOS 16 — deleting emails, marking things as read and the like. Apple could also improve the way it groups notifications and how you clear them. Those all sound like fine changes to me.
We won't know specifically what Apple has planned until iOS 16's turn in Monday's WWDC keynote. But it sounds like notifications are very much on Apple's mind with this version of the iPhone software.
iOS 16 health tracking capabilities
Apple loves to devote portions of its keynotes and product launches to detailing the many ways its devices can track your health. And I wouldn't bet against that happening again at WWDC 2022, particularly as it pertains to iOS 16. In fact, Gurman forecasts a number of new features for the iPhone's Health app that are likely to integrate with similar capabilities on the Apple Watch.
In addition to iOS 16, Apple's likely to preview watchOS 9 at WWDC, so we can expect to find many ways that your phone and smartwatch can work together to track health stats and exercise and perhaps even alert you to early warning signs you might want to ask a doctor about.
iOS 16 Messages update
Health isn't the only app being tipped for a refresh. Messages is also rumored to be gaining new features — hardly a surprise since it's one of the most used built-in apps on the iPhone. Past iOS updates have paid plenty of attention to Messages, so it's unlikely that iOS 16 is going to ignore it.
Gurman hinted that Messages could add capabilities around audio messaging, mirroring features found on other social networking apps. You can already record audio messages from within Messages and send them to recipients in the current version of iOS, so perhaps this feature gains enhanced capabilities in the iOS 16 update.
iOS 16 AR/VR features
Reports claim that we won't see the Apple headset at WWDC, but we could hear more about Apple's plans to get more AR-friendly apps out there by giving iPhone app makers an updated version of ARKit. Those are the tools developers can used to add augmented reality features into their apps.
iOS 16 new apps
An earlier report on iOS 16 had Gurman suggesting "fresh Apple apps" are coming to iOS 16. There's been no subsequent hints about what those apps could possibly be, though I was happy to make some new iOS 16 app suggestions such as a dedicated app for managing subscriptions and a recipe organizer.
The truth is, we're unlikely to hear about new apps ahead of WWDC, with the full details of what Apple has planned only emerging after the iOS 16 preview during the developer conference. Fortunately, we don't have much longer to wait.