iOS 16: All the important new features you should know about

This story is part of WWDC 2022CNET’s complete coverage from and about Apple’s annual developer conference.

Apple unveiled all major new iOS 16 features earlier this week at WWDC, its annual developer conference. We’ll go through each feature you should know about in anticipation of the public beta coming out in July and the full release in September.


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Apple is previewing iOS 16 and a bunch of new iPhone features


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iOS 16 allows you to edit and “unsubscribe” messages

“Embarrassing typos are a thing of the past,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior director of software engineering, as he introduced three of the most in-demand features of the Messages app.

First in iOS 16 you will be able to edit sent messages. So if you discover a typo after a message, you will be able to edit the message afterwards. A small “edited” appears in the status below the message.

A screenshot of the iOS 16 Messages app showing one that has been edited

In Messages, you can edit previously sent messages.

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Next – and this may be my favorite new feature – you can immediately remember a sent message. If you accidentally sent an unfinished message, you can use the Undo Send tool to prevent it from being read and hopefully look less chaotic to friends and family.

Finally, you can mark messages and threads as unread. This can be an excellent tool when you do not have time to respond to a message at the moment, but want to make sure you get back to it later.

Your iPhone gets a new customizable lock screen

One of the things you look at most on your iPhone is the lock screen, especially if you have an iPhone equipped with Face ID. iOS 16 brings the most comprehensive update to the iPhone’s lock screen yet. Press and hold to edit the lock screen. You can swipe to try out several different styles. Each style changes the color filter for the wallpaper and the font on the lock screen so that everything complements each other. This feels a bit like Apple’s perception of Google’s Material You, which was launched with Android 12.

You can also customize the time and date fonts, and add lock screen widgets such as temperature, activity rings, and a calendar. The widgets are related to complications on the Apple Watch lock screen.

Your iPhone will be more customizable in iOS 16. You will be able to choose what the lock screen should look like, down to the font and color.

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You can even set up multiple custom lock screens with different widgets and easily swipe to switch between them. There is even an image-shuffle option that automatically changes the images on the lock screen.

A feature we hoped to see Apple add was an always on display. This is something almost all Android phones have; even the Apple Watch does. There is hope that it will come out with iPhone 14.

A screenshot of the Live Activities tool at the bottom of the lock screen

iOS 16 adds a feature that developers can use called Live Activities. This is essentially a mini-view of the progress in real time for a workout, sporting event or Uber ride from the iPhone lock screen.

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Alerts and live activities

Sometimes notifications can cover the image on your lock screen, so iOS 16 moves notifications to the bottom of the screen. When you receive them, they appear as a vertical carousel instead of being put together in a list. Not only does this look better, but should be a great help for one-handed use of the iPhone.

iOS 16 also aims to solve another notification problem. Sometimes you get a bunch of alerts in a row from one app, like the score of a basketball game. A new developer tool called Live Activities makes it easier to stay up-to-date on things happening in real time from your lock screen, instead of having a series of interruptions.

Live activities will make it easier to follow sporting events, workouts or even the progress of an Uber ride.

Wallet and Apple Pay Later

Multi-state ID cards will be available in your Wallet app along with several security and privacy features. In iOS 16, you can also protect your identity and age. So instead of showing your exact date of birth, the Wallet app shows your ID and that you are over 21 years old.

iOS 16 makes it easier to share keys with apps like Mail and Messages. When your friend receives the key, they can add it to the Wallet app on their iPhone. Apple said it is working to ensure that shared keys are an industry standard and free for others.

A screenshot of cards in the Wallet app for iOS 16

The Wallet app in iOS 16 gets a bunch of small but notable updates, including the Apple Pay Later payment plan.

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Apple Pay will support new types of payments and add a new feature called Apple Pay Later, a Klarna-like service that lets you split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks, with no interest and no fees. Upcoming payments are managed through the Wallet app, making it easy to keep track of dates and payments.

But Apple Pay does not stop there. A new feature will also help you track Apple Pay orders and allow salespeople to provide detailed receipts and tracking information. This will make it easier to stay up to date on the status of all your orders.

A screenshot of a thread in Messages where a clip of a dog has been added

You can tap and hold the subject of an image and separate it from the background. Then you can drag it into another app like Messages to share it.

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Visual Lookups tap and drag for photos

In iOS 15, Visual Look Up analyzes your photos and can identify objects such as plants, landmarks and pets. iOS 16 takes this to the next level. When you touch a subject’s subject like the dog in the image above, you can lift it away from the background and add it to apps like Messaging. Essentially, it is a push and hold tool that removes the background of an image.

Apple sometimes overuses the word “magic”, but this feature really seems like it.

Craig Federighi introduces SharePlay in Messages in front of a giant screen

During the keynote for WWDC, Apple CEO Craig Federighi introduces SharePlay for the Messages app.

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SharePlay comes to Messages

SharePlay, which debuted in iOS 15, lets you have a shared experience while connecting to someone over FaceTime. You can watch TV shows, listen to music in sync and more. iOS 16 adds the ability to discover more apps that support SharePlay from FaceTime.

But perhaps one of the coolest things Apple did for SharePlay was make it work in the Messages app. Apple said this was one of the biggest requests from app developers. Now when you want to share a movie on Disney Plus, you can start SharePlay with a friend while chatting in Messages.

An Apple executive introduces the Safety Check feature under the WWDC keynote

Safety Check allows you to quickly reset position sharing and password access. It is meant to be useful for people in violent relationships.

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Safety Check aims to help people in violent situations

Security check is a new feature meant to be useful for people in violent relationships. It lets you review and reset who has access to location information as well as passwords, messages and other apps on an iPhone.

Focus mode updates and focus filters

Focus mode gets more updates. The first concerns focus behavior on widgets and lock screen appearance. So you can have one lock screen for when Work Focus is activated and another for workouts.

Apple added specific focus filters that use the iPhone’s focus mode in apps. In Safari, for example, you can restrict which tabs are displayed depending on which focus mode you have active.

Apple Maps adds ticket price cards

Maps will get more updates. You will be able to plan trips with up to 15 different stops along the way. If you’re starting to plan a trip with the Maps app on your Mac, you can share it with your iPhone.

And in something similar to what Google announced for Google Wallet in Android 13, you will be able to see estimates for shipping rates as well as add more money to a ticket card from Apple Maps.

Craig Federighi demonstrates the new quick launch feature under WWDC keynote

In iOS 16, you will be able to customize Quick Launch with a specific child’s iCloud parental controls and settings.

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iCloud Family Checklist

iCloud gets several new features. One of the more interesting is the ability to quickly set up a new device for your child. When Quick Launch appears, you have the option to select a user for the new device and use all the existing parental controls you have previously selected and configured. However, this is not what many of us still want: the ability to set up separate users for the same device.

There’s a new family checklist with tips for updating your kids’ settings as they get older, as a reminder to check location sharing settings or share your iCloud Plus subscriptions.

For more, check it out everything Apple announced at WWDC 2022.