Ahead of Apple’s big developer conference on June 6, WWDC, new information about what’s in store for iOS 16 has come to light. According to leaks reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, iOS users may expect to see new features like an upgraded lockscreen as well as updated first-party apps, including Messages and Health, updates to notifications, iPad multitasking features, and more.
The report described the software as a “fairly significant” upgrade — which is notable given the last two updates had included sizable changes, as well. With iOS 14, for example, iPhone users gained support for home screen widgets, leading to a homescreen customization craze that still sees widget and themes apps like Brass, Themify, ScreenKit and others topping the Graphics & Design charts. Last year’s iOS 15 upgrade, meanwhile, delivered Focus Modes — a new way to control what and who is allowed to interrupt you and when.
This time around, Bloomberg says Apple will give particular attention to its lockscreen, a bit of under-utilized real estate currently which offers only the date, time, and buttons to launch the Flashlight or Camera apps.
In iOS 16, Apple aims to support wallpapers that have widget-like capabilities, the report claims. This could indicate that Apple is considering merging what’s today to the left of the homescreen — the “Today View” with its lineup of widgets — directly into the lockscreen itself. This would make sense as the Today View is meant to offer easy access to information you may need throughout the day, like upcoming calendar appointments, the weather, or widgets that can be tapped to open favorite apps. But the Today View isn’t within easy reach because you still have to swipe right to see it, and many users don’t bother to do so.
This change could be beneficial to app developers who support widgets, as it gives them another shot at grabbing users’ attention in a high-profile area. Plus, it would give the homescreen customization app developers a way to extend their offerings. That is, users could now download full theme sets with sets of widgets designed both for the lockscreen and homescreen, along with matching wallpapers and icon themes.
In addition, the updated lockscreen could be preparing for a future where the lockscreen has an always-on display, similar to Apple Watch, though this would likely be tied to updated hardware, the report said. This mode may be exclusive to high-end iPhones at launch, including the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max — if given the greenlight.
Other expected features with iOS 16 include an updated Messages app with more “social networking-like functionality,” which may include some sort of update around audio messages. (Please, Apple, allow us to play audio messages at faster speeds like on WhatsApp!)
The Health app will also be updated, but the report didn’t have further details as to what would be changed. In addition, watchOS will gain changes to watch faces and a low-power mode, while iPadOS will gain changes to windowing and multitasking.
One feature that wasn’t touched on, but is in need of improvement, is iPhone’s Focus Mode. While a solid concept in theory, in practice many who have tried to set up Focus Modes have ended up missing important calls and texts, as well as critical notifications, that had come in via numbers or apps that hadn’t been allowed to punch through “Do Not Disturb” settings for the given mode. Setting up Focus Modes takes a lot of work, too — what could be better, perhaps, would be a Siri-powered Focus Mode that asks users to train the setting over a period of time, allowing it to learn what you consider important versus a distraction for particular times of “focus,” like your workday or personal time. Siri could also suggest Focus Modes based on how you already use apps on your phone or how often and when you “mute” notifications from specific apps.
The Bloomberg report didn’t note any planned changes for Focus Mode, but it would be a big oversight on Apple’s part to not roll out some tweaks to this system with the software update.
Apple’s WWDC 2022 keynote will livestream on June 6.