Apple iOS 16 will be released to everyone in the fall, and is currently in the hands of developers only. But, Apple has said that public beta software will be available in July, so let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later because it’s plenty cool.
Exactly what is so exciting? Read on.
1. Lockdown mode
This is something introduced in the third developer beta (and if the public beta comes soonish as I hope it will, it may look similar). It’s not for everyone—at least we hope it’s not—but it’s a continued reminder that Apple takes security more seriously than anyone else.
Lockdown mode is what’s described as an extreme security feature that Apple just unveiled in a Newsroom post. It is designed “to protect users from highly targeted mercenary spyware”. Apple revealed this ground-breaking change as “the first major capability of its kind… an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security”. Apple is specific that it’s been designed in response to companies like NSO Group, creator of “Pegasus” spyware, which Apple filed a lawsuit against last year.
Turn on Lockdown mode and the iPhone’s functionality is significantly reduced, so that most message attachments are blocked and link previews, for instance, are disabled. Incoming FaceTime calls won’t get through unless you’ve sent a call or request. Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when iPhone is locked. There’s a lot more to Lockdown mode that dramatically reduces the functionality of the iPhone. It’ll also be available for the iPad and Mac.
2. Clownfish: There’s Good News and Bad News
When the iPhone was first unveiled in 2007, the background wallpaper on the screen of the phone was a photograph of two clownfish swimming among anemones. It never made it as a stock wallpaper to any iPhone. Until now.
The photo looks similar to the one Steve Jobs showed us but is subtly different, and because this is iOS 16, works in different ways so that the interaction with the clock or other widgets can take place.
But there’s some bad news: not all users of iOS 16 beta 3 are seeing the lovely little fish. Several techniques have been employed, such as restarting the iPhone, to cause them to appear but they are not universally available yet. Perhaps by the time of the first public beta, harmony will be restored, and the clownfish wallpaper will be everywhere.
3. Lock screens
Creating more detailed and richer lock screens is one of the new features for iOS 16. The latest developer beta lets users change the lock screen and home screen wallpaper in a sublimely simple way, which the first betas lacked.
On the lock screen, let the phone recognize it’s you. Once the padlock unlocks, press and hold the lock screen and you can swipe left and right to choose between existing lock screens, or swipe to a big plus and add another.
4. Escaping CAPTCHA
This is one of the coolest additions to any device. It means that those tedious CAPTCHAs that dog us all across the internet will be a thing of the past. Instead of typing in colorful, angled figures or counting the bridges in a grid of photos, Apple will use Private Access Tokens to verify you and your device privately.
You can read full details of this extremely appealing update here.
5. Cool Fitness+ Awards
New Fitness+ awards are coming, adding to the current ones which relate specifically to closing your rings, special challenges or achieving a perfect week of exercise.
Now, there will be awards for completing Fitness+ challenges, which will come in a distinctive new shape and include streaks for doing Fitness+ workouts or your first Core Workout, for instance.
Obviously, you need to be a Fitness+ subscriber which means owning an Apple Watch and paying $9.99 a month for membership.
There’s a lot more to iOS 16, such as the way you will be able to edit and unsend messages and emails after you’ve sent them. There’ll be Stage Manager, a new multitasking set-up for the iPad and Mac.
More will be added, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for the first public beta. It’s scheduled for this month, so it could be any minute now.