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Apple released a major iPhone update — here’s what’s new and how to get it

There are a lot of changes. Here are some of the highlights you need to know about.
Image: iPhone
A salesman uses an iPhone in northern Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 2.Morteza Nikoubazl / NurPhoto via Getty Images file
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Apple released its big iOS 16 software update for iPhones on Monday. It has lots of new features, and it is available to anyone with an iPhone 8 or newer.

Apple releases big software updates every year to help keep the iPhone fresh. And, unlike updates of Google’s Android, they’re available for all supported devices at the same time. This year’s update is a big one, with a whole new lock screen that can be customized with fonts and widgets, which were previously relegated to the home screen.

There are a lot of changes; here are some of the highlights you need to know about.

What’s new in iOS 16

Edit and unsend iMessages: Users can edit or unsend a message in iMessage within 15 minutes of sending it. The other user will be able to see that the message has been edited or removed.

Schedule emails: The built-in Mail app on iPhones will allow users to schedule emails to send later. It also has a new, more functional search feature that Apple says offers “more accurate and complete results.” It also has a new undo send option.

Better group texting with Android users: Android users will finally see the Tapback reactions from iMessage users, like laughs, hearts and more, inside text chains. That means you won’t get the reactions sent as separate messages. It should be a huge improvement for iPhone users who text with Android users.

Smarter Dictation: Smarter Dictation lets you speak texts and automatically punctuates them with commas, periods, question marks and even emoji — say something like “happy face emoji” and it’ll get added.

Safety Check: This allows users to quickly turn off all services and apps, such as location, from being shared with others, such as family members. Apple said that Safety Check was designed in partnership with women’s groups and that it will make it easier for users to stay private or protect personal data and safety when they leave abusive relationships.

Control notifications in new ways: Notifications now appear at the bottom of the screen when your phone is locked, and you can easily hide them to keep them out of the way. Likewise, you can change your Focus mode, to silence certain notifications when you’re asleep, at work or on vacation, by tapping and holding the lock screen.

Customizable lock screens: Users will be able to add smaller widgets with real-time data to their lock screens. 

Add multiple stops in Apple Maps: Users can now add different stops to routes in Apple Maps, which means you can add a pit stop at the coffee shop on your way to work. It’s a feature that’s already available in Google Maps, and it will be welcome to iPhone users. Maps also has a new Transit card feature that will let you replenish your card, see the cost of your trip and more.

Medication and sleep tracking in the health app: Apple’s Health app now allows users to enter their medications, and it will notify them when it’s time to take medicine. Apple Watch owners will also be able to monitor their sleep and heartbeats in the iPhone health app.

Artificial Intelligence automatically sorts, edits and translates photos: Apple is using artificial intelligence to translate text in photos or videos the user takes. You can also cut a subject out of a picture, like a person, and place it into images or other apps as a sticker. In a later update, iOS 16 will also automatically share pictures with people it recognizes in the picture, such as friends or family members.

Apple Pay Later: This feature allows users to pay off purchases made with Apple Pay through four payments over six weeks. Apple Wallet in iOS 16 will also make it easier to share digital cards or home keys through messaging.

Updated Apple Home app: Apple redesigned the Home app to better show such things as multiple cameras in and around your home. The company said it’s also supporting Matter, an open standard for smart home hardware such as locks, lights and blinds.

Use your iPhone as a webcam: Users can now use their iPhones as webcams in a feature called Continuity Camera with the right laptop mount and the new version of macOS. The new version of macOS is set to debut this fall, however, so this feature won’t work until that’s out.

“Hey Siri, hang up.” Siri will hang up a FaceTime or a phone call for you. You just have to say, “Hey Siri, hang up.”

Fitness+ on iPhone: You won’t need an Apple Watch to use Apple’s premium Apple Fitness+ subscription, which costs $9.99 per month. It offers lots of workout and meditation videos, including cycling classes, high-intensity interval training and more.

Handoff with FaceTime: This feature lets you move your FaceTime call from your iPhone to another device, such as your Mac or your iPad, without having to hang up. It’ll also automatically switch whatever Bluetooth headphones you have connected to your iPhone to the new device. It’ll require the latest updates to Mac and iPad, however, which are coming later this fall.

Coming later Live Activities: This feature, which lets you place widgets on your home screen, will go live in a smaller iOS 16 update later this year. You’ll be able to do such things as see exactly when your food order is coming or check the score for a team you’re following without unlocking your phone.

How to install iOS 16 on your iPhone

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Tap “General.”
  • Choose “Software Update.” The update will download, and your iPhone will automatically restart once it’s ready.