iOS 16 has been available for public beta testing for some time now. The latest Apple OS will be powering the new iPhones, so we took a look at the software and the changes it brings.
iOS 16 was first revealed at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference). Since its announcement, greater customisation and security have been the key features highlighted by the company. We used the beta version of iOS 16, which will be available for devices as old as the iPhone 8. Here is what we found after two weeks.
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Customisation is not something iOS is well known for. However, with iOS 16, Apple has taken steps to rectify this. Enhanced customisation options coming to the new OS will be visible right from the time devices reboot after installation.
Updates to the lock screen and the home screen are now a lot more usable with iOS 16.
The new notification centre on the lock screen is available with a swipe up, and there is greater control over widgets. Features like live tracking from apps will be coming as and when applications are updated and other widgets are also available.
Though accessing the notification centre while using the music widget is a little tricky, it’s not difficult to get used to.
Three separate lock screens, each with different widgets, can be utilised for different focus modes to get the most out of the customisations.
Addition of the battery levels for connected Apple devices like the AirPods and the Apple Watch is also a welcome addition. However, users will have to rely on their judgment when viewing the batteries of connected devices as they do not show the battery percentage.
Displaying the battery percentage of the phone is also a good addition, which we believe will be of immense use on older devices.
A feature that stood out to us was the ability to use a blurred lock screen wallpaper on the homescreen. The blurred home screen wallpaper serves the dual purpose of ensuring you have a uniform colour code on the device while making the icons stand out from the wallpaper.
Another change that stood out was the ease of access for spotlight search with Siri suggestion, which is now available on the lower half of the screen.
Updates to notes, reminders, and photos also enhance the usability of the software.
Over the last few iOS updates, Apple has tightened the security on its devices, and the trend continues with iOS 16.
Lockdown mode will be coming with iOS 16 and it is not as extreme as it sounded when it was first announced. Lockdown mode as explained by Apple will be “sharply reducing the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware”. And it does just that.
We used the lockdown mode on an iPhone 13 Pro, and we are glad to report that it does not hinder the device’s usability.
When activating lockdown mode, we were presented with a warning screen stating that “Lockdown mode is an extreme, optional protection” and should be used only when users believe they are being targeted by highly sophisticated cyberattacks.
And though the mode limits certain features like switching off link previews in text messages, links can still be copy pasted to a browser to access content. The look and feel of some websites also change when accessed in lockdown mode, but they are still very much usable.
Since we used the public beta versions 8 of the software, we do not expect any major changes to the final release.
For users who want to up their security on their smartphone, the lockdown mode is a good option which reduces the chance of accidentally opening malicious links, without compromising the user experience.
Another important update is locking down hidden and recently deleted images in the photos app. While earlier versions of the software only allowed users to hide images from the main landing page, now they come protected by face authentication. Deleted images are a similar case.
Other updates making their way with iOS 16 include the ability to create quick notes from any app, shared libraries in photos, and the ability to copy/paste edits and merge duplicates in photos.
For AirPods users, there is a surprise as iOS 16 comes with improved new ear gauging. We used software that detects the size, shape and distance between earbuds to improve sound quality. We should add this does help the listener. The improvements, however, are most noticeable when listening to lossless audio files on Apple music, with spatial audio activated.
The ability to delete sent iMessages could not be tested since the receiver also needs to be using iOS 16 for it to work.
Beta versions of iOS 16 have so far delivered decent battery performance on the 13 Pro, averaging somewhere between 6-8 hours of normal use. However, performance on older devices might be different and we will have to wait for the final release to be able to comment on that.
Should you update?
While the current version of iOS does have a fine feel and finish to it, enhanced customisation, decent battery performance and above all, greater security make updating to iOS 16 an easy recommendation.