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iOS 16.2 Features: Apple Music Sing, Freeform and major AirDrop change

Apple is preparing to launch iOS 16.2 to users, with the first release candidate now available to developers. The update will introduce a number of new features and improvements to the iPhone’s operating system.

A number of key additions have been made late on in the process, with beta testers confirming (via 9to5Mac) the presence of the new Apple Music Sing karaoke feature announced earlier this week. Elsewhere there’s also a change to the AirDrop local sharing feature, which will reduce the sharing window.

Other key additions are Lock Screen widgets for sleep tracking and another for Medications, more updates for Live Activities, always-on display improvements, and new accessibility features.

The release candidate beta also introduces the Advanced Data Protection standard for iCloud, but that’s not expected to launch to the public until 2023.

Here’s what we’re expecting to see in iOS 16.2.

Apple Music Sing

Announced earlier this week, Apple Music Sing is a full karaoke experience coming to Apple Music subscribers. There’ll be jumping lyrics, the ability to lower the lead vocal track, sing duets, and much more. Apple had said the experience is coming soon to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, but now we know it’ll be within iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2 and tvOS 16.2.

You can read about Apple Music Sing here and check out this early hands-on video below.

AirDrop time limit

Apple copped some flak for introducing a new AirDrop feature in China, which limited the ability to receive AirDrop files for ten minutes at a time. This was widely interpreted in assisting the Chinese government clamping down on protests being shared via the service. Regardless of the merits of the change it’s now being rolled out everywhere in iOS 16.2.

Users will be able to choose from Receiving Off, Contacts Only or Everyone for 10 minutes. Previously, the receiving option was “Everyone” and it remained on in perpetuity.

New Lock Screen Widgets

The Sleep widget for the Lock Screen, which is now available in beta versions, joins the existing Home Screen widget. There are a couple of options; the smaller square showing total sleep, and the larger rectangular widget showing a graph view.

As for Medications, it’s a similar story. There’s a square widget showing a pill and a larger widget informing users of the medications they have scheduled today. Apple has already added support for medication tracking within the Health app in iOS 16, but having these widgets visible on the Lock Screen might give people an added memory boost.

Apple News in Weather

Elsewhere, we’ve already heard of Apple News integration within the Weather app, which makes perfect sense if you’re experiencing a newsworthy weather event like flooding or tornadoes, for example.

Freeform

With iOS 16.2, Apple is finally launching the Freeform collaborative whiteboard app first previewed at WWDC 2022 in June. Our own Hannah Davies explains: “You can use your Freeform canvas to brainstorm ideas, diagram new projects, bring together assets or simply sketch and jot down your thoughts with others in real-time – as you would with a real whiteboard but with the added perk of it all being virtual.”

More regular Live Acvitity updates

Live Activities is a flagship feature for iOS 16 and enables users to keep track of their food delivery order, or their favourite teams’ sports scores without having to head into an app. In iOS 16.2, Apple is enabling users to summon updates on the Lock Screen or in the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island notch feature. More frequent updates will cause battery drain, Apple says.

Custom Accessibility Mode

Apple is also adding new accessibility tools under a “Custom Accessibility Mode” feature, which promises a more streamlined iPhone experience with large text, controls and simplified home screen and user interface.

Those appear to be key noteworthy changes but there’s still time for Apple to add more features before the rumoured release later this month.

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