iOS 16 review: Customization unlocked

iOS 16 review: Customization unlocked
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The (customized) lock screen in iOS 16.
expand / The (customized) lock screen in iOS 16.

Samuel axon

Over the past few years, Apple’s annual iOS updates have focused on one feature for an overhaul on the laser, while making smaller tweaks to everything else. Last year, Focus was the focus. The year before that, it was the home screen.

This time it’s the lock screen. You can now change fonts, add widgets, customize the information displayed, and choose from a wide variety of wallpapers. Apple has also integrated the lock screen more deeply with previously used Focus modes. Appeared in iOS 15. And it laid the foundation for more than just notifications that third-party apps can show you before you unlock your phone.

Given the increasingly iterative nature of iOS releases today – with many key features not arriving for months after a new, full-numbered version was first shipped – we’re moving to leaner initial iOS reviews with updates. set. So today we’re going to look at the main new feature of iOS 16, but also touch on a few other important features and changes.

Lock screen

While iOS 16 touches on most aspects of using the iPhone in various minor ways, it’s largely a “lock screen update”. This makes sense: Apple makes a lot of noise about shipping features that integrate hardware and software, and iPhone 14 Pro‘s new always-on screen puts that emphasis on the lock screen.

However, for users of other iPhone models that lack the always-on feature, there’s a lot going on here. Following the emphasis on Focus modes last year and the previous year’s home screen customizationThis is the most significant move Apple has made on the personalization front with the iPhone, almost always.

I know what you’re going to say: Are all those features that were basically a part of Android forever no longer?

Yes, you’re right – mostly. In typical Apple fashion, there are some improvements here that Android hasn’t touched, but when it comes to functionality, that’s mostly yesterday’s news for Android patterns. However, what is already a win for Android users is largely a win for iOS users as well.

It’s easy to see the Apple Watch’s impact on this update; new widgets act as complications and new lock screen acts like a Clock face. That sentence right there tells you everything you need to know about the new lock screen. Imagine the Apple Watch and all the customizations, features, and limitations the Watch has to offer. Now make it all phone size. Here is the new iOS lock screen.

To start playing with these customizations, simply long press your finger on the lock screen. This will take you to an interface with horizontally floating cards, each representing one of your custom screens.

At the bottom there are three important buttons. You can tap “Focus” to toggle the Focus mode that opens when this lock screen is active. You can tap “customize” to change your widgets, fonts, wallpapers and more. And there is a “+” button to add a new custom lock screen to the card row.

It starts with wallpapers

When you press the + button, a panel opens that offers you various wallpaper possibilities. These options are divided into several buckets. There are gradient wallpapers where you choose a general color theme and define some features of a simple gradient. (It actually looks prettier than it looks.)

There are collections that are somewhat similar to Apple’s previous approach to iPhone wallpapers: ready-made patterns in several different color options.

You can also make a wallpaper of emojis on a grid or in a pattern across the screen and even choose which emojis are displayed. You can select up to six emojis to add to the wallpaper using Apple’s standard emoji selection interface.

My personal favorite bucket for wallpapers is the “Weather & Astronomy” category. These provide little in the way of customization, but they’re pretty nifty. The obvious here is that it changes the wallpaper images to match the live weather conditions in your area, and the images in question are similar to those that have already painted the Weather app.

There are also dynamic wallpapers for earth, moon and solar system. Solar system one shows the actual current relative positions of the planets as they orbit the sun, while showing your Earth position on a globe with a green dot in the middle of the lively updated cloud cover that reflects the conditions on Earth.

The Moon and Earth come to life at different angles when you switch from the always-on screen to an active lock screen and then swipe for the home screen. It’s a fun effect, and the moon wallpaper in particular looks great on OLED iPhone screens.

But as neat as these are, I guess most people will choose wallpapers that use photos from your library in the Photos app. Tapping “Photos” lets you choose between individual photos on your phone.

Using machine learning, iPhone analyzes all the photos in your library so you can be presented with “Featured” recommendations that I find mostly about money. There are even subcategories for these featured recommendations, such as people, pets, nature, and cities. And of course, you can browse your entire photo library and choose any image you want.

According to the tooltip, there’s also “Photo Blending,” a dynamic set of photos that changes as you use your iPhone throughout the day. You can adjust the mixing frequency to change it to tap, lock, hourly or daily. Once again, it gives you featured photos and lets you choose which categories to add; however, you can still manually select each photo from your library.

For photo wallpapers, this is the best place to point out that Apple has used some neat AI tricks to cut out key objects like faces or buildings in the image, allowing them to overlay bits of the time display to create a neat effect. . It’s actually shocking how well this works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work when you add widgets below the time. Apart from this limitation, you can turn this on or off at any time.

After choosing your wallpaper, you will be taken to the full lock screen customization view.

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