iOS’ sweet 16. What’s new in iOS16?

iOS’ sweet 16. What’s new in iOS16?

It is that time of year again. Apple has released their latest iPhone Operating System release, iOS16, and it is the talk of the town. 

iOS16 builds upon previous generations and aims to provide Apple’s most visually appealing interface and intuitive user experience yet. In this article, we discuss the new features and updates, while assessing whether iOS16 is a routine upgrade or a radical overhaul.

Lock screens, Wallpapers, and Widgets

By now, we all know that every new iOS release heralds notable performance gains. Hardware improvements are no longer big news. Instead, the tech commentariat is focused on iOS’s changes to the lock screen. The interest is understandable. The lock screen is the first thing you see when you pick up your phone and features the most immediately obvious place changes.

With iOS16, users have access to a plethora of customisable lock screen features.  For instance, a new multi-layered photo effect displays images over the clock,  giving the lock screen a more natural and dynamic feel. 

The inclusion of a lock screen gallery allows users to have as many wallpapers as they want. Each can be customised with unique backdrops, stylised date and time displays, and easily accessible information.     

Some may question whether the new lock screen is a little too much. But everyone has their own tastes, so we’ll leave that to you to decide. And you can always use the customisation options to strip back the display if you prefer a minimalist look.

Users can also attach different lock screens to separate Focus Mode profiles. Prefer an information-heavy lock screen when working? You’ve got it. Want an all-green colour scheme when gardening? That’s cool, too.

Messages, Mail

How? Users can now edit messages up to 15 minutes after sending and have an additional option to recall sent messages.

These two features demonstrate how iOS16 is highly focused on users’ behaviour and interactions. Let’s look at another example.

Users regularly read a message or a mail when they are in a hurry or cannot respond immediately. Most people make a mental note to reply later at a convenient time. And then swiftly forget that mental note. We all do it. 

Users regularly read a message or a mail when they’re in a hurry or can’t respond immediately. Most people make a mental note to reply later at a convenient time. And then swiftly forget that mental note. We all do it. 

iOS 16 addresses this problem by enabling users to mark messages as unread. With Mail, Apple has dubbed this feature Remind Me. Remind Me enables users to specify a date and time for the message to resurface in their inbox. 

This interesting feature could solve a major user pain point. However, there is also a good chance users will simply forget to set a prompt. In that case, the feature becomes another reminder that we are really, really bad at responding to messages. Only time will tell whether users enthusiastically adopt the Remind Me feature or just ignore it.

Wallet and Pay Later 

iOS 16 also introduces the ability to securely share passkeys through popular apps like Messages, Mail and Whatsapp. This could be a very useful feature. How many times have you had to sit back and wait as a family member tries to find and share the Netflix password? 

Never again.

Although this feature boasts secure data transmission, making it so easy to share sensitive information seems as though it would create a different type of security risk.

Another new feature is the ability to pay multiple merchants in a single Apple Pay transaction. Now you can specify purchase amounts for several merchants in a single Apple Pay payment sheet. This gives you the flexibility to make bundled purchases — such as a travel package with flight, rental car and hotel — but send payments to individual merchants.

Furthermore, updates to Wallet and Apple Pay now include Order Tracking. With participating merchants, users can receive detailed receipts and order tracking information for Apple Pay purchases via their wallet.

Health and Fitness

Health and fitness is a growing market for Apple. So it comes as no surprise that the company has included several new health features in iOS16. Users can track medication, vitamin, and supplement intake and add custom visuals to make each easier to remember. 

You can also create schedules and reminders and turn your logged medications into  interactive charts that offer insight into your medication adherence. Cycle deviation notifications are now available and health data can be securely shared with loved ones through invitations. 

Users without an Apple Watch can work towards fitness goals via the iPhone’s motion sensors. And the device will draw on your steps, distance, and third-party workouts to estimate your calorie expenditure.

SharePlay on Messages

Apple introduced SharePlay in iOS15 to bring us closer together by letting us share experiences over Facetime. iOS16 builds upon this by extending SharePlay to Messages. For example, users can now start a shared movie with friends while remaining in the chat.


iOS16 brings a considerable number of new features to Maps. Users can plan trips with up to 15 stops along the way and see travel estimates within the app. This seems like a great addition for people planning long trips for leisure or work. Additionally, users can add travel cards to their Wallets, check their balance, and replenish their cards in the Maps app. Trips planned on your Mac also automatically sync with iPhone devices.

iCloud Family Checklist

iCloud gets many new features, one of which is the inclusion of a family checklist with tips for updating device settings for your kids as they get older.

Emergency SOS by Satellite

Exclusively for iPhone 14 models, iOS16 has introduced a new feature that will be available in November this year. It enables users to connect via satellite to text emergency services when users are unable to find Wi-FI and have no cellular signal. The messages can take around 15 seconds to send when users have a clear view of the sky. However, it can take more than a minute if you are sending the message through trees with light or medium foliage.

This is a really high-value feature for anyone who spends any time away from the city. It provides a reassuring answer to that eternal question:  ‘What if I’m in an emergency and have no signal?’ 

Unfortunately, the feature is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada. However, if it proves successful, we could see it rolled out in more locations.

You can find out more about this feature on Apple’s support page


Due to space constraints, we omitted several iOS16 features and updates from this article. App clips, Books, Contacts, Game Centre, Keyboard, Memoji, Music, Notes, Photos, Podcasts, Reminders, and Weather all received slight tweaks. You can read more about these features on Apple’s website.

To make up for that, here are four fantastic hidden features you can find in iOS16.


Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are now password protected

Historically, the hidden album was never hidden or protected, making it an ineffective (almost comical) attempt to offer users some privacy. iOS 16 fixes this by adding biometric or password protection to the album. 


Find and remove duplicate content

Often, in an attempt to capture that perfect Instagram photo, we take many pictures with little or no variation. This might not be a problem if you have got storage to spare. But most of us do not. And going back to remove every duplicate is a tedious task. 

iOS16 now has a new Duplicates album where you can delete any duplicates. You can also choose to merge, which keeps the picture with the highest quality and moves the rest to the bin. It will be interesting to see users’ feedback on this feature in the future, and find out whether it accurately finds and deletes duplicates.


View and share saved Wi-Fi passwords

Apple has always allowed iPhones to share passwords by placing them close to each other. This feature was known to be unreliable and quite frustrating when it failed. iOS16 now allows users to view the actual WiFi password as a contingency for iPhones. 

This feature also benefits Android or PC users, as the password can be copied and shared orally or electronically. However, it is not groundbreaking stuff for Android users, as the QR code feature enables them to scan and instantly connect to the Wi-Fi.


Pin your favourite tabs in Safari

We’ve all been guilty of having one too many tabs open on our browsers. Currently, Safari caps at 500 tabs. However, the closer you get to that limit, the harder it is to find the exact tab you want. 

iOS16 has updated Safari so you can press down on an open tab and the option to hit Pin Tab appears. This permanently pins that tab as a tiny preview at the top of Safari. 

It is hard to tell if this will fix this problem. Will users make the most of it and update it with their favourite tabs? Maybe. But it also seems like it could be a feature that is used for a while and then forgotten. Let’s see!



Here at The Distance, we research each new iOS and Android release so we can develop the most up-to-date and relevant apps for our clients.

If you are interested in learning how The Distance can help you develop your app idea, please do not hesitate to get in touch and talk to one of our experienced team members.