iOS 16: The Big Features We Didn’t See at WWDC 2022

This story is part of WWDC 2022CNET’s full coverage of Apple’s annual developer conference.

Apple showed a preview of the developer beta from iOS 16 Bee WWDC 2022† The iPhone update brings many changes. But despite plenty of future features, there are several things we see on other Apple products and Android phones that don’t seem to be coming to iOS.

I don’t mean to give the good highlights like the new customizable lock screens, the ability to Edit and undo iMessage texts and the Apple Maps makeover, among many others. But a few of these features that the iPhone still doesn’t include aren’t new at all and are fairly easy to find if you look beyond the devices Apple makes.

What we wanted: always visible
What we have: it may be in the code

Many Android phones have added an always-on display over the past decade, which takes advantage of OLED screens by illuminating only the pixels necessary to display clutter-free information, such as the time and some notifications. Even though Apple has been using OLED screens since 2017 iPhone Xthere is no implementation of this type of lock screen in iOS yet.

That could change, though, as according to a 9to5Mac report, the operating system makes: multiple references to an always-on display within its code† While a code reference is far from confirming that the feature is in active development, Apple may be considering the feature in a future device.

A screenshot of the iOS 16 Messages app

In Messages you can edit previously sent messages.


What we wanted: Better texting to non-iPhones
What we got: An improvement in group texting

Apple’s iMessage in iOS 16 gets the ability to edit and recall messages that have not yet been viewed, but these improvements are still largely just for iPhone features that general state of text messages within the telephone industry. When it comes to texting another phone that isn’t an iPhone, iOS still falls back on the decades-old texting standard that lacks conveniences like typing indicators and smoother group texting.

While Google has gotten phone providers to RCS standard encompassing these functions – albeit over several years with setbacks – the standard currently remains only Android, with Google claiming they’d like to partner with Apple for interoperability.

The chances of that seem as bleak as ever, but there’s some hope for group chats between the iPhone and Android phones. iOS 16 adds support for message responses sent via SMS, which currently come in as a series of messages about how a person has “liked” or “loved” a message.

Instead, the Messages app now translates it to the correct icon, just like it already does when each participant in the group chat uses an iPhone. Google recently added a similar feature in its Messages app, which translates iPhone responses in the same way. This step won’t greatly improve these group chats, but I’m doing it for convenience.

Split view in iPadOS.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

What we wanted: Split view on larger iPhone models
What we have: nothing yet

Apple’s iPad tablets have long offered the ability to run two apps side by side, taking advantage of the larger screen. The iPad also gets its own multitasking boost with iPadOS 16 thanks to the new Stage Manager. Android phones similarly have the ability to run multiple apps at once. But on the iPhone, even with the iPhone 13 Pro Max and its 6.7-inch display, it is not possible to use two apps at the same time.

Apple does allow some limited multitasking on the iPhone, such as viewing a picture-in-picture video on top of another app, but it would be great to occasionally see a shortened version of the Mail app next to Safari or to put the Calculator app next to a budget app.

Multiple lock screens displayed on and next to an iPhone.

iOS 16 gives you a ton of new ways to customize your lock screen.

Apple/screenshot by CNET

What we wanted: more home screen, settings menu customization
What We’ve Got: New Lock Screen Options

One of the great features of Android 12 is the ability to whole theme of your phone — including custom colors for the notification drop-down list. While iOS 16 brings more control to the lock screen, it would be a great next step to go further and allow for thematic customizations that extend to notifications and the various settings menus.

In addition to a custom theme, it would also be great if the home screens made it possible to place apps wherever we want. While widgets can help with this (I use a full-width weather and calendar widget to lower my first row of apps), some people may want to place their apps exclusively on the bottom row of their home screen. While the existing Focus modes and App Library feature already allow you to customize which apps you want to appear on home screens, free placement would be the next logical step for customization.

The lock screen was a big focus during the iOS 16 presentation† Perhaps Apple will focus on the home screen again next year.

A phone with Pay Later on top showing upcoming payments

Apple will pay later in iOS 16.


New iOS 16 features may still arrive

While Apple took a first look at iOS 16 at WWDC 2022, it didn’t offer a teaser about the upcoming iPhone 14 line that is expected to arrive this fall. Sometimes Apple reveals specific iOS features alongside the new phone line, such as how Cinematic Mode debuted with the iPhone 13.

An always-on display, in particular, could be just the kind of feature making its debut with the next iPhone, especially if it’s a feature that takes advantage of the higher refresh rates that debuted with the iPhone 13 line. For example, the Apple Watch’s always-on display debuted with the Apple Watch Series 5 and was otherwise unavailable through a software update for other Apple Watch models.

It’s also worth remembering that some of the new iOS features won’t come to every iPhone. For example, Face ID in landscape mode is only coming to supported iPhone models, and it’s currently unclear which iPhone models will be excluded. iOS 16 is also the first software update not to come for the iPhone 6S, the 2016 iPhone SE or the iPhone 7 line.

We’ve reached out to Apple in case there’s any development on iOS 16 feature ideas that we’re still hoping to arrive before the public release of the software update later this year.

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