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Apple iOS 16.1 Features: What’s new with the latest big iPhone update?

As well as iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura, Apple has also dropped a new iOS 16.1 update for iPhone owners, bringing a host of new features.

The update, which is now available to install and download, introduces several new features, some Apple previewed prior to the iOS 16 launch and others that have only made themselves known in recent weeks.

You can download iOS 16.1 now by heading to Settings > General > Software Updates, provided you’re connected to Wi-Fi and have plenty of battery life and storage space available. For our iPhone 12 Pro Max, the download came in at just under 1GB.

Here are those new features:

iCloud Shared Photo Library

A feature deemed not quite ready for prime time when iOS 16 rolled out last month, iCloud Shared Photo library gives users access to a separate library for sharing photos with up to five people.

It’s different to the current iCloud Shared Albums, in that it enables groups to view, contribute and edit photos. It’s great for an ongoing album of family activities for example, which everyone can contribute to.

Live Activities

Live Activities is another feature we’ve known about for a while, but required a little more time to perfect. You can see live progress of your pending Uber ride, Starbucks order (below, right), or your favourite sports team’s score without leaving the Home Screen. Now these updates can also appear within the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro range (main image).

The latter looks particularly good when you get a score update with the badges of the teams playing either side of the front-facing camera array.

iOS 16 Apple

Matter support

The official release notes for iOS 16.1 include support for Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard that aims to unite the home ecosystem, regardless of the manufacturer of the lightbulbs, locks, or cameras. In iOS 16, the Home app got a revamp and now it features Matter support.

Clean Energy Charging

This is a feature Apple has kept under wraps until quite recently. Clean Energy Charging is designed to optimise the charging of your device at times when cleaner energy sources are being deployed by the electricity grid. Every little helps.

Apple Fitness+ on iPhone

Until now, you’ve needed an Apple Watch to access the Apple Fitness+ subscription service on your iPhone. That’s no longer the case. You’ll be able to participate in workouts, but you’ll still need an Apple Watch for full synergy with your workout stats.

Wallet updates

The recently-announced high yield savings account for Apple Card holders, which automatically transfers the Daily Cash cash back sums, is here in iOS 16.1. However, it’s a US-only initiative for now. iOS 16.1 also includes the ability to share digital keys (like hotel or car keys) within messaging apps.

Bug fixes

Finally, Apple iOS 16.1 fixes a few issues with the operating system. The release notes describe them as follows:

  • Deleted conversations may appear in the conversations list in Messages
  • Dynamic Island content is not available when using Reachability
  • CarPlay may fail to connect when using a VPN app.

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