The (customized) lock screen in iOS 16.
Enlarge / The (custom-made) lock display screen in iOS 16.

Samuel Axon

For the previous couple of years, Apple’s annual iOS updates have laser centered on one function for an overhaul whereas making smaller tweaks to all the things else. Final yr, Focus was the, effectively, focus. The yr earlier than that, it was the house display screen.

This time it’s the lock display screen. Now you can change fonts, add widgets, customise the knowledge displayed, and choose from a greater diversity of wallpaper. Apple has additionally extra deeply built-in the lock display screen with the Focus modes that have been fleshed out in iOS 15. And it has laid the groundwork for one thing extra than simply notifications that third-party apps can present you earlier than you unlock your cellphone.

Given the more and more iterative nature of iOS releases right now—with many key options not arriving till months after the preliminary ship date of a brand new, whole-numbered model—we’re transferring to leaner preliminary iOS critiques, with updates to return in extra articles over time. So right now we’re going to take a look at the principle new function of iOS 16, however we’ll contact on a few different key options and adjustments, too.

The lock display screen

Whereas iOS 16 touches most points of utilizing the iPhone in quite a lot of small methods, it is rather a lot “the lock display screen replace.” That is sensible: Apple makes a whole lot of noise about transport options that combine {hardware} and software program, and the (*16*)iPhone 14 Professional’s new always-on show drives this emphasis on the lock display screen.

However there’s a lot right here for customers of different iPhone fashions that lack that always-on function. Following up final yr’s emphasis on Focus modes, and the earlier yr’s on dwelling display screen customization, that is probably the most important transfer Apple has made on the customization entrance with the iPhone in, effectively, just about ever.

I do know what you’re going to say: aren’t these all options which were a part of Android for principally an eternity now?

Yep, you’re proper—largely. In typical Apple vogue, there are some thrives right here that Android doesn’t contact, however as for performance, that is largely yesterday’s information for Android diehards. However what was already a win for Android customers is essentially a win for iOS customers, too.

It’s straightforward to see the affect of the Apple Watch on this replace—the brand new widgets behave like problems, and the brand new lock display screen acts like a Watch face. That sentence proper there tells you nearly all the things it’s worthwhile to know concerning the new lock display screen. Image the Apple Watch and all of the customizations, options, and limitations the Watch faces supply. Now make all that phone-sized. There you go, that’s the brand new iOS lock display screen.

To start out taking part in with these customizations, you simply long-press your finger on the lock display screen. This brings you to an interface with horizontally scrolling playing cards, every one representing one in every of your customized screens.

On the backside, there are three necessary buttons. You may faucet “Focus” to alter the Focus mode that activates when this lock display screen is energetic. You may faucet “customise” to alter your widgets, fonts, wallpapers, and extra. And there’s a “+” button so as to add a brand new customized lock display screen to the row of playing cards.

It begins with wallpapers

While you hit the + button, a panel pops as much as give you quite a lot of wallpaper prospects. These choices fall into a number of buckets. There are shade gradient wallpapers, the place you choose a normal shade theme and outline some attributes of a easy gradient. (It appears nicer than it sounds, really.)

There are collections, that are a bit like Apple’s earlier method to iPhone wallpapers: premade patterns in a number of completely different shade choices.

You may also make a wallpaper out of emojis on a grid or in a sample throughout the display screen, and you’ll even choose which emojis to show. You may select as much as six emojis to incorporate within the wallpaper, utilizing Apple’s normal emoji-picking interface.

My private favourite bucket for wallpapers is the “Climate & Astronomy” class. These present little in the best way of customization, however they’re fairly snazzy. The plain one right here adjustments the wallpaper visuals to match the reside climate situations in your space—and stated visuals appear to be those that already paint the Climate app.

There are additionally dynamic wallpapers for the Earth, moon, and photo voltaic system. The photo voltaic system one exhibits the precise present relative places of the planets as they orbit the solar, whereas the Earth one exhibits your location on a globe with a inexperienced dot, amidst live-updating cloud cowl that displays situations across the globe.

The moon and Earth ones animate to completely different angles as you progress from the always-on show to an energetic lock display screen after which swipe for the house display screen. It’s a enjoyable impact, and the moon wallpaper particularly appears superb on OLED iPhone screens.

However as neat as these are, I think about most individuals will select to go together with the wallpapers that use pictures out of your library within the Images app. Tapping “Images” provides you a selection between particular person pictures in your cellphone.

Utilizing machine studying, the iPhone analyzes all of the pictures in your library so that you will be offered with “Featured” options, which I discovered to be totally on the cash. There are even subcategories for these featured options, together with individuals, pets, nature, and cities. And naturally, you possibly can browse your total photograph library and choose any picture you’d like.

There’s additionally “Photograph Shuffle,” which is “a dynamic set of pictures that shuffle as you employ your iPhone all through the day,” in accordance with the tooltip. You may set the shuffle frequency to alter on faucet, on lock, hourly, or each day. As soon as once more, it presents you with featured pictures, and it enables you to choose which classes to incorporate—however you possibly can nonetheless manually choose every photograph out of your library.

That is nearly as good a spot as any to notice that for photograph wallpapers, Apple makes use of some neat AI methods to chop out main objects within the picture, like faces or buildings, and permits them to overlay bits of the time indicator, making a neat impact. It’s surprising how effectively this works, really. Sadly, it doesn’t work once you add widgets under the time. Aside from that limitation, you possibly can toggle this on and off at will.

When you’ve picked your wallpaper, you’re taken to the complete lock display screen customization view.

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