Apple's iOS 16: all the features we wouldn't have seen at WWDC 2022

Apple's iOS 16, which debuted Monday at WWDC 2022 as a developer beta, brings a lot of changes to the iPhone. Even so, several features are found on other Apple products and Android phones that are not included in iOS 16.

It's not that I am ignoring the features that are great, such as the new customizable lock screens, the ability to edit and unsend iMessage texts, and the new Apple Maps. When you look past the devices that Apple makes, you can find a few of these features that aren't new at all. 

Over the past decade, Android phones have included always-on displays that use OLED screens to display glanceable information such as the time and notifications by only lighting up the necessary pixels. Even though Apple has been using OLED screens since 2017's iPhone X, iOS has yet to implement this type of lock screen.

There is, however, a possibility of changing that, as the operating system has multiple references to an always-on display in its code, according to a 9to5Mac report. While a code reference is far from any kind of confirmation that the feature is in active development, Apple may be considering the feature in a future device. 

With iOS 16, Apple is gaining the ability to edit and recall messages that haven't yet been viewed, but these enhancements are still largely iPhone-only features that aren't advancing the state of text messaging overall. iOS still uses the decades-old SMS standard when it comes to texting other phones that aren't iPhones, and lacks features like typing indicators and smoother group texting.

The standard, which includes these features, has been supported by phone carriers for several years - admittedly with setbacks - but it remains Android-only at the moment, with Google claiming it would be happy to work with Apple for interoperability.

The chances of that happening remain slim, however, there is some hope for group chats between iPhones and Android phones. iOS 16 is adding support for message reactions sent over SMS, which currently appear as a series of messages regarding how a person rated a message.

Like it already does when all members of a group chat use an iPhone, the Messages app will translate these into the appropriate icon now. Google recently added a similar feature to its Messages app, which translated iPhone reactions in the same way. While this move won't significantly improve group chats, I will take it as a convenience. 

It has been a long-time feature of iPad tablets to run two apps at the same time, taking advantage of the larger screen. With iPad 16, the iPad gets its multitasking boost with Stage Manager.

In recent years, Android phones have also been able to run multiple apps simultaneously. However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, with its 6.7-inch display, does not offer the ability to run two apps simultaneously.

Apple does permit some limited multitasking on iPhone, such as viewing a picture-in-picture video while using another app, but it would be nice to occasionally place the Mail app alongside Safari or to place the Calculator app beside a budgeting app.

In Android 12, you can customize your phone's entire theme -- including the notification pulldown's colors -- one of the most powerful features. It's great that iOS 16 gives more control to the lock screen, but it'd be great if thematic tweaks were available for notifications as well as settings.

Additionally, we would appreciate the ability to place apps anywhere on our home screens alongside a custom theme. Some people may prefer to place their apps exclusively on the bottom row of their home screen, even though widgets can help with this.

It is already possible to customize which apps appear on your home screen in Focus modes and the App Library feature, but giving you complete control over their placement would make customization even more effective. Apple emphasized the lock screen during its iOS 16 presentations. Perhaps the home screen will take center stage next year.

In addition to giving a first look at iOS 16, Apple did not mention the iPhone 14 line that is rumored to arrive this fall at WWDC 2022. With the iPhone 13, Apple introduced Cinematic Mode, one of the iOS features that has been available since then.

With the next iPhone, an always-on display might be the kind of feature that will debut, particularly if it takes advantage of the higher refresh rate screens introduced with the iPhone 13. A software update to other Apple Watch models was not available for the always-on display on the Apple Watch, which was introduced with the Apple Watch Series 5.

Some of the new iOS features will not be available to all iPhones. For instance, Face ID in landscape mode only works on supported iPhones, and it's unclear which iPhone models will be excluded from it. Additionally, iOS 16 does not include the iPhone 6S, the 2016 iPhone SE, or the iPhone 7 models.

I've reached out to Apple for further information about the features we hope will be included in iOS 16 before it's released to the public later this year.

For more stories like this

Explore our website