Apple today launched the first public beta of its upcoming iOS 16 software update so you can try out its new features like a customizable lock screen with controls, fine-grained controls for different focus, and an improved messaging experience — for both green and blue bubbles — on your iPhone . Beta testers can also download prerelease versions of iPadOS 16, which includes a revamped multitasking interface and altered screen pixel density, and watchOS 9 with improved arterial fibrillation detection and detailed sleep tracking.
The company first announced iOS 16 last month at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), and has since launched three developer betas. The public beta allows you to test new features without having to pay $99 for a developer account, and with (hopefully) fewer bugs than the developer beta version. If you want a more stable version of iOS for your iPhone, you will have to wait until it becomes available to everyone in the fall.
You should keep in mind that these are beta versions and some features on your iPhone will not work properly with this version. So you should be prepared for these anomalies if you are planning to install iOS 16 public beta.
To install the new public beta, head to the Apple Beta Software website, sign in with your Apple ID, and download the configuration profile for the device you want to install the beta on. Once you set up the profile on your phone, you will get a prompt Settings > General > Software Update To download the iOS 16 public beta.
The iO16 update comes with several new updates that we are looking forward to with a new configurable home screen with widgets that is the marquee feature. You can long press on the lock screen and start customizing a style by choosing a new photo, font style, filter and depth effect. As mentioned in a previous TechCrunch story last month, Apple’s default wallpaper is limited, so you’ll have to rely more on third-party images or your own collection.
The effect of the 3D layer of the wallpaper is slightly inconsistent. It works fine when there is only one person or object in the image, but if there are multiple objects in the image, the depth effect does not work for every part. But hopefully this will be sorted out in the final version.
Moreover, you will be able to set multiple lock screens by combining different wallpapers, patterns, and widgets. Apple is also releasing a Live Activities API, which will allow apps to show you ongoing activities — like the result of a sports match and an ongoing Uber ride, for example.
You can have multiple lock screens to swipe through to access different locations, moods, or times – think of them as watch faces (or watch faces) for your iPhone. Additionally, iOS 16 allows you to pin the lock screen to a specific focus mode. And speaking of focus – it now has more filters along with allowed and silent lists of apps, triggers like location and time to activate a particular mode, and custom homepage suggestions. Apple gives users all the tools to adjust the lock screen and home screen according to their needs, but going through a lot of settings to do so can be confusing for some.
With more information available through lock screen widgets and notifications, the launch of the new focus button on the Home screen on iOS 16, and widget support for the already existing Home screen, Today View is almost redundant – unless you want a custom screen For user interface elements only.
iOS 16 will also provide an updated Photos app with iCloud Shared Photo Library for families, so they can have a separate feed of photos taken by different members. Aside from selecting a person or place to add to that library, you can also turn on the toggle in the Camera app to instantly send the photos you take to the shared library.
The new Photos app will also bring locked folders for hidden and deleted photos and remove copies, which can save a lot of space on your device.
iOS 16 put a lot of the burden on collaboration. You can now create shared tab groups in Safari to collaborate with your friends, which is useful if you’re thinking of vacationing or planning a dinner party. You can basically use them like Pinterest boards to build ideas. You can hold down the tab button in the lower right corner to open the menu, and quickly add the current location to any tab group.
Apple will also let you easily share documents, slide sets, or Safari tab sets in Messages, so others can collaborate on those files. With iOS 16, you’ll be able to quickly start your SharePlay experience right from the Messages app without initiating a FaceTime call. On top of that, the company will launch a collaborative app called Freeform later this year — on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura — where you can add your own notes, embed photos, extract doodles, and even FaceTime someone directly from the app.
If you engage with iMessage a lot, you’ll be able to edit a sent message (up to 15 minutes), undo sending, and quickly mark a message as unread by swiping up. iOS 16 will also allow you to recover deleted messages up to 30 days after deletion.
If you are dealing with green bubbles or SMS messages, you will be able to filter the messages by different categories like 12 subcategories under Transactions and Promotions. The category includes financial transactions, reminders, orders, health, general services, weather, carriers, rewards, etc.; The promotions category includes offers, coupons, and more. All of this would only work for iOS users residing in India, putting them on par with Android, which had apps like Microsoft SMS Organizer. If you live in the US, you will be able to report spam messages to carriers using the new “Report Spam” which will be visible within the Messages app under the Unknown Senders category.
Apple is updating the search feature in the Mail app with smart search recommendations. It will let you schedule and undo emails to be sent as well. The Maps app in iOS 16 will let you add multiple stops on your route and show you transportation prices for the selected flight. The OS update will also bring security and privacy-focused features like automatically letting you skip CAPTCHAs, real-time security updates, security checks to keep abusers away, and PassKey support for passwordless logins.
Live Text now includes support for videos and automatic unit conversion. You can also translate foreign languages, send an email, create a calendar event, call phone numbers, or track flights from the detected text. This is useful for getting data from a business card or quickly reading food items and converting currency from a restaurant menu while traveling.
However, the most fun feature in iOS is the new Photo Crop feature, which allows you to “capture” objects from photos by separating the subject from the background. This can be really useful for editing photos or even creating stickers of your pets for messages, Telegram and WhatsApp.
And if you’re not satisfied with all of these features, you can take a look at TechCrunch’s list of other nifty features that can make your life easier.
Apple is also releasing the public beta of iPadOS 16 which can give you a taste of a new multitasking system called Stage Manager. It’s a new interface that allows you to focus on one app, while giving you the ability to quickly launch another app from the sidebar or the dock at the bottom. This gives you the freedom to have floating windows of different sizes on a single screen like your desktop.
iPadOS 16 will also bring some important display-related features such as full support for an external monitor to set up multiple workspaces, and Display Zoom to adjust the pixel density on the screen so you can view more details in an app while using split mode.
The company is releasing WatchOS 9 beta with improved A-fib detection and detailed sleep phase analysis including time spent in REM, Core or Deep sleep. The new Workout app will now allow you to switch between different displays during an activity by rotating the digital crown and allow you to view different heart rate zones to measure exercise intensity.
WatchOS 9 (and iOS 16) will offer medication logging, schedules, and reminders. For US-based users, the feature will also notify you of critical drug interactions – for example, if alcohol consumption is not recommended while taking a particular pill.
Historically, Apple’s operating system updates became available to everyone a week after the iPhone’s launch – usually held in September. So, if you don’t want to try the beta versions of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and Watch OS 9, you should wait for a few months.