Apple’s WWDC kicks off tonight (June 6), and we fully expect to get our first look at iOS 16 – the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone – during the keynote address.
While details about forthcoming iPhones are teased and leaked at an alarming rate, info about the upcoming version of iOS 16 is usually harder to come by until it’s officially announced.
We’ve rounded up everything we know so far about iOS 16 along with a look at when it might come out and what we want to see added.
If past years are anything to go by, then Apple will officially announce iOS 16 during the keynote address of WWDC. This will take place on June 6 2022.
The latest version of the iPhone operating system is typically one of the showcase announcements of the Worldwide Developer Conference, along with new versions of iPadOS, macOS and more.
While Apple will likely announce iOS 16 on June 6, it won’t release the product to every iPhone user on the same day. These iOS updates go through a long beta process first, where developers can test out the new APIs and log any bugs they find.
Apple will most likely release the first iOS 16 beta to registered developers shortly after the announcement, with a public beta following later. Apple has released the public beta – this is where anyone who wants to try the software out can – in June or July before, so there’s every chance we could see the same again this year.
Once the beta process is complete, the final software should be available around the same time as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro arrive. This will likely be towards the end of September based on Apple’s past release cycles.
What do we want to see in iOS 16?
1. Improved notifications
Current rumours point to iOS 16 including some improvements to the notification system and we couldn’t be happier about this news.
The current implementation of notifications on iOS is messy, especially if you get loads of buzzes throughout the day. Important alerts can get drowned out and it can be hard to remember which app wants your attention if you accidentally clear the notification panel. Hopefully, iOS 16 fixes this, with a cleaner and more powerful interface.
2. Split-screen apps on the iPhone
Apple has so far decided against implementing true multitasking on iOS. You can’t, for instance, have two apps open and viewable at once – a feature common on Android phones. Considering the large iPhone 13 Pro Max has a screen more than large enough for this feature to add some extra productivity skills for users, it seems an obvious missing feature that can be added.
3. Interactive widgets
We’re glad that Apple finally added real homecreen widgets into iOS a couple of years ago, but in their current state, the little tiles of information are lacking a key feature – interactive elements. Widgets in iOS merely show data, like the weather or the current song that’s playing, but you can’t interact with them in any way. It would be great to be able to cycle through weather locations or skip forward a chapter in an audiobook.
4. Actual custom icons
Clever users of the Shortcuts app have, in recent years, found innovative ways to customise iOS app icons but there’s still no official way to do this. Considering how popular the slightly drawn-out current process is, it would be great for Apple to allow everyone to easily download icon packs to add that extra hit of customisation.
iOS 16 leaks
One leak relating to iOS 16 suggests that Apple could be updating the look of widgets, with larger options available. A tweet from LeaksApplePro shows a vastly different homescreen, with larger groups of widgets.
Some other tidbits of information have come via Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a usually very reliable source of Apple news. Gurman has suggested, in his Power On newsletter, that iOS 16 won’t come with a huge redesign but that it will focus on improving the notification experience and adding more health-tracking options.
On top of that, Gurman also noted that an always-on display was on its way to the iPhone 14 Pro which “would allow the iPhone to turn down the frame rate significantly on the lock screen and display quickly glanceable information—similar to newer Apple Watches” (such as the Apple Watch Series 8).
Apple is also rumoured to be announcing a Classical Music app in the near future, after it acquired the Primephonic streaming service. There were signs of Apple Music Classical in the iOS 15.5 beta, however this could be just laying the groundwork for a proper announcement at WWDC.
Some features of the new operating system have already been previewed by Apple, including door detection for blind and low vision users, so that once they arrive at their destination they are able to understand their position relative to a door, and how to open it. This feature will become available on all iPhones and iPads that have LiDAR scanners. Additionally, Apple is introducing Live Captions to iPhone, iMac, and iPad, so that subtitles can be made to appear for “any audio content”, including FaceTime, video conferencing, social media, and even for real-world conversations with someone next to you. This feature is of particular use for the deaf and hard of hearing community.