There’s another reason to pay attention to iOS 16 other than what a software update will mean for your existing iPhones. iOS 16 will debut around the same time as the next round of Apple flagships, arriving as the default software on those devices. So our first look at iOS 16 can also give us some hints about what Apple has planned for the iPhone 14 models rumored to arrive later this year.
We don’t have much to go on at the moment in terms of the rumored features of iOS 16, although the first reports of potential changes are starting to emerge. Because Apple develops its software internally, it keeps a very tight lid on potential features until the big reveal at WWDC. In contrast with the iPhone, where Apple’s various supply chain partners are always telling leakers about the planned changes to Apple devices.
However, we’ve already heard quite a bit about the potential changes in iOS 16, with more rumors likely to surface in preparation for WWDC 2022 in June. We also have some ideas of what we’d like Apple to do with its phone software. With that in mind, here’s what we know so far about iOS 16, including the possible release date and which phones will be eligible for the software update.
Speculation on iOS 16 release date
Apple usually previews upcoming software updates during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference to give app makers some time to update their software to work with Apple’s next iOS release.
Apple has already set a date for this year’s WWDC conference – the event begins on June 6 with a keynote on opening day. We were betting home on iOS 16 preview at the time. Once Apple previews its iOS update, it delivers a beta version of the software to developers, usually during WWDC itself.
Apple also has a well-established public beta program for its software, with a public beta usually available by the end of the month or the beginning of a new month at the latest. So you will likely be able to get a public beta by the end of June.
The final version of iOS 16 is likely to be released in the fall along with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. We don’t know when the iPhone 14 will arrive, but Apple is tempted to release it in September. Expect iOS 16 to arrive at the same time.
What devices are running iOS 16?
Apple’s last two software updates worked on the same devices, with support extending back to before the iPhone 6s, which debuted in the fall of 2015. However, given the number of iOS 15 features that require more modern hardware, it’s guesswork that some older models are on the verge of interruption. Specifically, rumors state that the original iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE from 2016 lost iOS support with this version, with two sources claiming that.
Owners of these phones can’t really get upset if iOS 16 sets the drop point for Apple support. The original iPhone SE was introduced six years ago, and the iPhone 6s models will be 7 years old this fall. Given the advances in processing power at the time, it is reasonable to assume that some capabilities of iOS 16 may exceed what these devices can support.
For iPad support, Apple offers a separate update for iPadOS. This year’s version will offer many of the same features as iOS 16, although there’s some potential for tablets as well, we think.
iOS 16 Features Rumored: What We Can See
Apple has not yet notified about iOS 16 plans, although a handful of leakers have suggested some potential changes to the company’s iPhone software later this year. The most persistent rumors include ongoing improvements to the gadget feature that Apple first introduced in iOS 14.
specially, LeaksApplePro tweeted The claim that Apple was working on so-called “big widgets” that would hold multiple gadgets in one container. As explained by LeaksApplePro, the big widgets look like the Smart Stack widgets currently included in iOS 15, but the iOS 16 release will show multiple widgets at once instead of forcing you to scroll through them.
Additionally, a screenshot showing the large, premium widget — codenamed “InfoShack” — also includes Control Center widgets for managing things like the iPhone’s flashlight or an Apple TV remote.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gorman, iOS 16 could contain the first official mentions of Apple’s AR/VR headset, something that has been rumored to be working on for some time. It doesn’t say what features will be there.
As you know, Apple is rumored to be working on a VR/AR headset that will be released later in 2022 or maybe next year. (The latest report claims that the project has been pushed back to 2023.) Moreover, Apple is also said to be working on a wearable mixed reality device called Apple Glasses that will work with the iPhone.
This type of device will require a lot of third party apps to be worthwhile. That could likely mean a new version of ARKit, Apple’s toolkit for building augmented reality apps that comes with its iOS software. Given the lead time to produce such apps, Apple could offer a peek at its mixed reality hardware during WWDC to motivate iPhone app makers to start incorporating augmented reality into their software.
Referring to Gurman’s iOS 16 report, a longtime Apple reporter confirmed that Apple could be working on “some fairly significant improvements across the board, including an update for notifications and new health tracking features.” There are no further details on what these changes will be, but we do have some ideas on how Apple can improve notifications in iOS 16.
Additionally, Mac Rumors reported in late 2021 that this year’s Apple devices like the iPhone 14 could add crash detection features where the device will call emergency services if it senses you’ve had an accident. This feature requires new capabilities that were introduced in iOS 16, although Apple may hold off on previewing this capability until we get close to releasing the iPhone 14.
While it’s not an official rumor, an iOS 16 concept video from The Hacker 34 shows off a number of potential iOS 16 additions, which are highlighted by support for multitasking to allow two apps to run on an iPhone screen. Other potential features promoted in the video include customizable shortcuts for the lock screen, always-on display support, and customizable icons.
iOS 16: What we want to see
We would definitely like to see the multitasking feature featured in the iOS 16 concept video, and several rumored changes to the widget pique our interest. But we’re expecting iOS 16 to bring in a lot of changes, and until we focus on more persistent rumors about software update features, we’re happy to offer our own suggestions for changes Apple can implement.
Clear all button: iOS and Android are always adapting each other’s best features, and we’d love to see that continue with iOS 16. Specifically, Android has a Clear All button that makes it simple to shut down all your open apps. Add this capability to iOS, and the days of scrolling up the endless view of apps on your iPhone are over
Improved search tools in messages: Apple understands that we spend a lot of time on the built-in chat app, making sure to add improvements to Messages with each iOS update. In iOS 16, we hope this will include new tools for searching existing chats. Specifically, we’d like to see the Messages search bar more complex, with the addition of the ability to add filters and fine-tune searches to make it easier to find relevant texts.
Image enhancements: Apple has already built in some really good photo editing tools in Photos, and we really liked the Enhanced Memories feature in iOS 15. For iOS 16, we’d like to see some additions that take a page out of the Android book. For example, the Pixel 6 introduced the Magic Eraser feature that removes unwanted people and objects from a photo. Given its expertise in AI, we think Apple could add something similar without putting in much effort.
Application fixes: Every iOS update means that at least one of the built-in apps has gotten a substantial upgrade — take a lot in the Apple Maps game for iOS 15. We think it’s news turn for the blanket treatment — the app doesn’t. They look impressive on the iPhone screen, and we think Apple could find better ways to present the content. Similarly, Shortcuts is an excellent addition to the iPhone, but its interface is not quite as attractive when it comes to creating your own automations and shortcuts. Better designed tools will increase people’s inclination for this very useful app.