iOS 16.2 on the way — here’s the new features for your iPhone

iOS 16's logo on an iPhone, with an iOS graphic in the background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

iOS 16.2 should be the final big update to the iPhone's software before the end of 2022. iOS 16.1 brought some big changes to the iPhone when Apple released that software update. But the iOS 16 update is already in the works that will bring a new app to the iPhone along with other enhancements.

Right after the iOS 16.1 update's release, Apple rolled out iOS 16.2 Beta 1 to developers. That means the software will be available as a public beta soon, with a full release likely out before the end of the year.

The arrival of a new Freeform app leads the changes in iOS 16.2, which also includes some other under-the-hood enhancements to other apps and features. Since then we have also got an iOS 16.2 beta 2, which added a Medications widget for the Lock Screen, Apple News integration for the Weather app and a new Dynamic Island update only for iPhone 14 Pro users.

Here's what we know so far about iOS 16.2 in terms of the features this update introduces.

iOS 16.2: Freeform

Maybe you forgot about Freeform, an app that Apple first previewed during its Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Apple touts Freeform as a brainstorming and collaboration tool, with the app serving as a kind of mobile whiteboard that people can work on together in real-time.

freeform app running on an iPad

Freeform running on an iPad (Image credit: Apple)

Freeform seems to be primarily geared toward the iPad, taking advantage of that device's larger screen space. Indeed, Freeform also debuts on the iPadOS 16.2 Beta 1 release, which arrived at the same time as the iOS 16.2 update. However, Freeform is designed to work on multiple Apple devices, which is why it's also included in both iOS 16.2 and the new macOS Ventura beta.

Apple's release notes for iOS 16.2 Beta 1 (opens in new tab) warn of some known issues with Freeform that require workarounds for deleting boards while offline and adding or removing collaborators when changing share settings. It's a reminder that this is very much a beta release, with a lot of fine-tuning in the works between now and when iOS 16.2 gets a general release.

Our Alex Wawro went hands-on with Freeform (opens in new tab), and he thinks it's a whiteboard app he'll actually use. 

iOS 16.2: Regional Weather app Apple News stories

Screenshots showing the regional Weather news stories feature in iOS 16.2 beta

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

If you open the iOS Weather app, and the current conditions are related to an ongoing news story, then an Apple News widget will pop up to allow you to read more about what's going on in the News app.

This feature currently seems limited to certain U.S. locations, but hopefully once this feature leaves beta it'll work anywhere.

iOS 16.2: Dynamic Island upgrade for iPhone 14 Pro

iOS 16.2 has a new Dynamic Island upgrade that will now keep the Wi-Fi icon and signal bars in view while playing music on the iPhone 14 Pro. Earlier, if a user was listening to music on the iPhone 14 Pro, Dynamic Island would show the Now Playing track along with the battery icon and either the signal icon or the Wi-Fi. With this update, the island will shrink down in width and all three icons will now be visible when music is played. It will also have a sleek animation that will set it in place. 

iOS 16.2: Expanded ProMotion support

iPhones with 120Hz displays — that's the assorted iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro models — get a performance boost. Apple's release notes say that animated layout changes now happen at 120Hz on ProMotion displays.

iOS 16.2: New Home app architecture

Home has received a lot of attention in iOS 16, first with an all-new design that makes it easier to view and control smart home accessories. The iOS 16.1 update brought support for Matter, an interoperability protocol backed by Google, Amazon and Apple that should help different devices work together.

The changes keep coming in iOS 16.2, which is going to usher in a new architecture for the Home app. Apple says the change will bring faster, more reliable performance, though we'll have to see it in action before we can see what that means for everyday use.

iOS 16.2: Live Activities changes

Live Activities also just appeared in iOS 16.1, but there will be some enhancements to the feature in iOS 16.2. As a reminder, Live Activities are alerts that appear on the lock screen (or around the Dynamic Island if you've got an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max) that give you ongoing updates for things like sports scores, delivery statuses and timers.

iOS 16 Live Activities

(Image credit: Apple)

9to5Mac reports (opens in new tab) that it's seen code that will allow Live Activities to request updates at shorter intervals, which would boost the frequency of updates to the alerts. Apparently, that feature isn't yet live in iOS 16.2 Beta 1, though.

Another report, this one from MacRumors (opens in new tab), claims that Live Activities integration with selected sporting events in the TV app has returned in the iOS 16.2 beta; it had briefly been a part of the iOS 16.1 beta. 

According to MacRumors, you'll be able to tap a Follow button on supported games in the TV app to have score updates displayed on the lock screen or in the Dynamic Island. Supported events include MLB and NBA games as well as Premiere League matches in the U.S. We've just started poking around iOS 16.2 Beta 1 and haven't spotted that feature just yet.

iOS 16.2: Accidental Emergency SOS call reporting

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If you accidentally trigger your iPhone's Emergency SOS call feature, iOS 16.2 Beta 1 apparently adds a way to report an unintentional call. An iOS 16.2 user took to Twitter (opens in new tab) to say that such a feature appeared when they inadvertently launched an Emergency SOS call on their iPhone.

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iOS 16.2: Sleep widget and Medications widgets

Sleep and Medications in iOS 16.2 beta 2

(Image credit: Future)

iOS 16.2 beta 1 added a Sleep Lock Screen widget to iOS, which allows users to view their sleep-tracking data from the Lock Screen. A Sleep Home Screen widget has existed since iOS 15 but with the Lock Screen becoming more integral to iOS, the Sleep widget is getting ported over.

iOS 16.2 beta 2 meanwhile, brings a health widget of its own into the mix. Medications was a widget that had been hinted at previously but was unavailable before this latest beta. Now, iOS 16.2 beta 2 users can track their medication from the Lock Screen. If you take a fair amount of medications, this can be a highly useful feature given the complexities of many medication schedules.

iOS 16.2: Custom Accessibility Mode

Screenshots showing the custom accessibility mode feature in iOS 16.2 beta

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

In its ongoing efforts to ensure anyone can use an iPhone, Apple's working on a new Custom Accessibility mode that can drastically simplify the iOS layout.

Enabling this mode replaces the default "Springboard" iOS home screen layout with a simpler one made up of a large grid of icons. Unlocking the phone can also be set to require a touch-and-hold input, and no matter where you are in the phone, an obvious Back button is available at the bottom of the screen at all times.

There are also options to enlarge on-screen text, disable volume buttons, and to make changes to individual apps and the iOS Emergency SOS service. 

iOS 16.2: Resolved issues

According to Apple's iOS release notes (opens in new tab), it has fixed a couple of issues with this newest beta. There was an issue typing in Chinese Pinyin that has been resolved, as well as an issue with the TV app not properly working. Finally, SwiftUI, which is an app-building tool from Apple, had some issues with animations that have been resolved in iOS 16.2 beta 2.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

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