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iOS 16 – the best bits

The bits I’m enjoying most in iOS 16

image courtesy of author

It’s a goodie

iOS 16 delivered!

Some years, the new OS turns out to be a bit of a let-down and a damp squib. It always looks great at WWDC, but come the full release, I’ve often been left feeling somewhat deflated. But this year, iOS 16 has proven to be one of the best iOS updates I can recall.

Now that I’ve been using iOS 16 for about a month, on my iPhone 14 Pro, I thought I’d go over some of the features I am liking most about it. Starting with the bit we see first – the lock screen.

Loving the lock screen

To be honest, until this year, I’d never given much thought to the lock screen. It was simply a means to an end, but now, the lock screen has become a feature in its own right.

The fact iOS 16 gives you the option to create multi-layered designs, is really neat. Creating new lock screens is quick and simple. I have quite a few set up now, with many of them linked to focus modes. Changing the colours and fonts bring another level of customisation to the lock screen as well. And, I’ve never had more fun widgets! I think I finally see the point of them after all this time.

Before moving on from the lock screen, who else is loving that notifications now roll up from the bottom. It seems less obtrusive and, somehow, smoother. Love it!

Focus modes

Focus modes first became a thing in iOS 15, and this year, they have been refined and expanded. Setting, or choosing a focus mode, means it will be set across all your devices. Previously, selecting a lock screen meant going to control centre. But now, in iOS 16, you can link one to a lock screen, making it as easy as swiping to the chosen design, and the focus mode is then enabled.

One of the biggest improvements to Focus Modes, is that it allow us to set boundaries within apps such as Mail or Messages, to only display relevant content. And, within each Focus Mode, you can silence notifications from apps and people.

Messages

Although the message’s app didn’t get a massive makeover, the few changes they made, were both useful and meaningful and I use them regularly.

Editing a message, is a great get-out-of-jail card. Currently, you only have a 15-minute window to make the edits, and you are limited to 5 edits per message (oddly). The other two, notable updates to Messages, are the undo send & mark as unread features. That last feature is actually way more useful than I first gave it credit for.

Mail

Again, an app I use all the time, the changes within the mail app have been a welcome addition to an already solid app. Similar to Messages, you can un-send an email (but you only get 10 seconds to do it). I have used it once, and it saved my bacon. The follow-up and schedule send, are two features I want to get to grips with, too.

Camera

As you probably know, I am a big user of the camera on iPhone. iOS 16 had some software tweaks that improved the computational side of it too, even if you are still on an older phone.

Have you noticed how the foreground blur is way improved this year? Shooting in portrait mode lets you blur the objects nearer to the camera better, which creates a mare realistic depth-of-field effect.

And speaking of depth-of-field, the Cinematic video mode is vastly better in iOS 16. It seems far more adept at dealing with hair, face movement and glasses. It is getting ever closer to true DSLR shots now.

One other image trick of iOS 16, is of course Visual Look Up. What’s that? That’s the fancy term for the photo cut-out thingy. It may remind me that my days of charging clients for Photoshop work are limited, but it does a remarkably good job.

Live text

Live Text was a thing, in iOS 15, but for static images only. Now, in iOS 16, Live Text works with video as well. I was sceptical at first, but having used it quite a few times, it works well. When researching on YouTube, copying text from a stop frame and then pasting it in to Safari, speeds up may day.

A Live Text trick I came across quite accidentally last week was that, pointing the camera at a price, say in Sterling, and it’ll convert it to whatever currency you desire! I had no idea about that hidden gem. Did you?

Fitness

Now I have become one of ‘them’ – an Apple Watch convert, I don’t use this iOS function any more, but for a month or so, I did, and I loved it.

The Fitness app is now available to all iPhone/iOS 16 users. It even gives you a Move ring that fills as you burn energy. It’s a clever development by Apple, as it leads you down the Apple Watch path every so subliminally. Come to think of it, I wonder if that was part of the reason I finally weakened, and bought an Apple Watch Series 8? Hmmm…

Wrapping up

iOS 16 was a fantastic release. As ever, there were a few initial problems after release, such as camera-gate, but there will always be bugs. On the whole, though, this iOS release was one of their best. It is so good, that it almost fools you in to thinking that you have a brand-new phone. Not only is it feature rich, but it also looks so different.

Apple has had a pretty positive year. With some great hardware like Watch Ultra and Mac Studio, and now iOS 16, even with no event planned for October, we have a plenty to be happy about.

What are your top iOS 16 features and what, in your mind, are the best product releases so far this year?

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