(personalized) lock screen in iOS 16.
To enlarge / (personalized) lock screen in iOS 16.

Samuel Axon

For the past few years, Apple’s annual iOS updates have been laser-focused on one feature for a major overhaul and minor tweaks to everything else. Last year’s Focus was, well, focused. A year before that, it was the home screen.

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

Given the increasingly iterative nature of iOS releases today—many major features don’t arrive until months after the initial ship date of a new, fully-numbered version—we’re moving to simpler early iOS reviews with updates in additional articles. time. So today we’ll look at the main new feature of iOS 16, but we’ll also touch on a few other key features and changes.

Lock screen

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

But for users of other iPhone models that lack the always-on feature, there’s a lot here. Follow last year’s emphasis on focus modes and the year before home screen customizationthis is the most significant step Apple has made on the personalization front with the iPhone.

I know what you’re going to say: aren’t all these features that are now part of Android forever?

Yes, you’re right – mostly. In typical Apple fashion, there are some flourishes here that Android hasn’t touched, but as far as functionality goes, it’s mostly yesterday’s news for Android geeks. But what’s already a win for Android users is basically a win for iOS users as well.

It’s easy to see the impact of the Apple Watch on this update — the new widgets act like complications, and the new lock screen works like a Watch face. That sentence right there tells you everything you need to know about the new lock screen. Imagine all the customizations, features and limitations that Apple Watch and Watch faces have to offer. Now fix all this phone size. Here is the new iOS lock screen.

Just long press on the lock screen to start playing with these customizations. This brings you to an interface with horizontally scrolling cards, each representing one of your individual screens.

Below are three important buttons. You can click on “Focus” to change the Focus mode that is active when this lock screen is active. Customize your widgets, fonts, wallpapers and more. you can tap “customize” to change it. There is a “+” button to add a new custom lock screen to the array of cards.

It starts with wallpapers

When you press the + button, a panel opens to offer you different wallpaper options. These options fall into several buckets. There are color gradient wallpapers where you choose a general color theme and set some attributes of a simple gradient. (It actually looks nicer than it looks.)

There are collections that look a bit like Apple’s previous approach to iPhone wallpapers: pre-made patterns in several different color options.

You can also create a wallpaper of emojis in a grid or a pattern across the screen, and you can even choose which emojis to display. You can choose six emojis to include in the wallpaper using Apple’s standard emoji selection interface.

My personal favorite bucket for wallpapers is the Weather & Astronomy category. These offer little in the way of customization, but they’re pretty cool. What’s revealed here changes the wallpaper visuals to match the live weather conditions in your area, and said visuals now look like those that paint the Weather app.

There are also dynamic wallpapers for the earth, moon and solar system. The solar system shows the actual current relative positions of the planets as they orbit the sun, while the Earth shows your location on the globe between a green dot and a live-updating cloud cover that reflects conditions around the world.

The Moon and Earth animate at different angles when you switch from the always-on display to the active lock screen, and then swipe for the home screen. It’s a fun effect, and the moon wallpaper looks amazing, especially on OLED iPhone screens.

But as neat as it is, I think most people will choose to go with wallpapers that use photos from your library in the Photos app. Tapping on Photos lets you choose between individual photos on your phone.

Using machine learning, it analyzes all the photos in your iPhone library to provide you with “Featured” offers, which I consider mostly money. There are even subcategories for these specials, including people, pets, nature, and cities. And of course, you can browse your entire photo library and select the image you want.

There’s also a “Photo Blend,” which is “a collection of dynamic photos shuffled as you use your iPhone throughout the day,” according to the tool tip. You can set the mixing frequency to change on tap, lock, hourly or daily. Once again, it presents you with a selection of photos, and it lets you choose which categories to include, but you can still manually select each photo from your library.

It’s as good a place as any that for photo wallpapers, Apple uses some neat AI tricks to cut out key objects in the image, like faces or buildings, allowing them to cover bits of the time display, creating a neat effect. . It’s surprising how well this actually works. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work when adding widgets down the timeline. Except for this limitation, you can turn it on and off whenever you want.

After selecting a wallpaper, you will be taken to the full lock screen customization view.

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