iOS 16 review: unlocking the lock screen (2023)

The story of iOS 16 is all the things that your phone does when you’re not using it. Apple has been saying for years that we need a reset in our relationship with technology and that picking up our phones hundreds of times a day is not the right outcome. Apple, of course, is probably the company most to blame for that problem. And so, part of the idea with its new smartphone software is that there might be ways for your smartphone to be useful without you having to use it so much.

Like every year, this new version of iOS (which is available for the iPhone 8 and newer starting on September 12th) is filled with improvements and changes to practically every app and screen on the iPhone. In recent years, that’s been just about all the new versions have been. iOS is an excellent, mature piece of software, and Apple’s clearly not looking for an excuse to reinvent the wheel anymore. But this year, Apple found a part of its software that hasn’t gotten much attention recently and gave it a makeover.

The lock screen is the true star of iOS 16. Apple has reconceived its purpose altogether, shifting it from just a clock and a bunch of notifications to something much more like a second homescreen. Lock screen widgets were an instant upgrade to my phone life: I can now see my calendar without unlocking my phone or even swiping right to get to that page of widgets everyone always forgets about, and I have a tiny widget that launches a new note in my notes app.

My favorite iOS 16 widget comes from the habit tracking app Streaks. I have “take 5,000 steps” as a daily goal (we’re still in a pandemic, I work from home, and 5,000 steps feels like an accomplishment some days now) and a widget on my lock screen with a meter that slowly fills up as I approach that number. It’s a subtle reminder every single time I look at my phone that I probably need to go outside and touch grass.

The iPhone has never been good at these kinds of light-touch interactions. Before iOS 16, most things required you to pick up your phone, unlock it, swipe to the right homescreen, and open an app. Apple has tried to shrink that process through Siri voice commands, and part of the Apple Watch’s whole appeal is easier access to simple tasks. But “put a bunch of them on your lock screen” might be Apple’s best solution yet. And when you pair it with the always-on displays on the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone becomes a fountain of useful information without requiring a single tap.

iOS 16 review: unlocking the lock screen (1)

Image: Apple / David Pierce

Still, Apple hasn’t quite finished the job here. For one thing, these widgets are still irritatingly noninteractive; they can update with new information, but the only way to use them is to tap on them to open their app. Why can’t I long-press the Calendar widget to see my whole day? Why can’t I tap on the “drink water” Streaks widget to actually log my water consumption?

The new Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro is a slight improvement in this sense, at least while you’re actively using the phone: you see a tiny sliver of information in the pill at the top of the screen, and you can tap it to open the app or long-press to expand to the full widget. I’d still rather be able to play and pause from the pill itself, though. Live Activities are also a sort of interactive widget, with the live updating sports scores and such, but only a few first-party apps seem to be using it so far. (Kudos to Clock, the perennial early adopter of iOS features.) In general, widgets are still basically app shortcuts, and I’d rather them be tiny apps.

(Video) iOS 16 review: Apple opens the lock screen

With iOS 16, lock screens are also a way to change Focus modes, which is extremely clever. I’ve never been one to change my background; I’ve had the same picture on there for four years. But now, I have one home and lock screen background for the work week and another for the weekends paired with a Focus mode that turns off email and Slack notifications.

iOS 16 review: unlocking the lock screen (2)

Image: Apple / David Pierce

Getting all this set up is a fair amount of work — you have to pick backgrounds, choose font colors for the clock, add lock screen widgets for each one, and then go through the Focus rigamarole over and over again —but it’s worth the half-hour because now I can just swipe through all of my phone’s various modes. Focus modes in particular still seem to require an advanced degree to set up correctly, but lock screens make them a nice context switching mechanism, and I’ve come to appreciate it. My weekend lock screen is a photo of my dog, and every time I see it, something in my brain goes “get off your phone and go outside.”

All the small things

It’s a long-running and extremely true joke that two-thirds of Apple’s new iOS features every year are just Android features from six years ago. Much of the other third is Apple taking features from third-party apps and baking them into the operating system itself. Outside of Apple occasionally pretending it invented decade-old software tricks, this is the right strategy: most users don’t want to download tons of apps or learn new things, and the more functional the iPhone is out of the box, the better it’ll be for most people.

(Video) iOS 16 New Lock Screen Hands-On

There’s one place where Apple does things no other manufacturer or OS can match, and that’s the camera. With iOS 16, you get Live Text in video, which means you can snap some footage, then pause the playback (it doesn’t work while you’re recording), and press and hold on some text to copy it. It’s not perfect — it’ll occasionally think “organic” is spelled “WACIGINIC” —but it’s good enough to be useful. Ditto the feature that can automatically grab the subject, so long as it’s human or animal, out of a photo so you can paste it or save it somewhere else. It works much better when your subject and the background are really well separated, but I’ve been consistently impressed with how well it was able to mask and separate my dog’s head from the couch or my face from the wall behind me.

Beyond that, iOS 16 is chock-full of semi-obvious features that it feels like Apple could and should have added a long time ago. Undo Send and scheduled messages in Mail is an obvious one — practically every other email service and app has offered those features for years, but they work well enough in Mail now. Same goes for Maps, which can now do multiple stops in a single trip. It works fine, though it’s not terribly advanced, and it makes you wonder what took Apple so long. But here we are. With iOS 16 comes a handful of new accessibility features, including a really impressive system-wide closed captioning feature and some clever real-time image recognition.

Of all these quality-of-life improvements, there are two that have made my phone-using life markedly better. The first is haptic feedback while typing. After weeks of using it and getting that gentle buzz every time I hit a key, I don’t know how I ever just smashed my fingers onto motionless glass. I’m not sure it’s made me a better typer, but it’s a much more pleasant typing setup. The second is marking conversations unread in Messages. For too many years, my general texting behavior has been to either respond immediately or forget all about the message and never get back to it. Now, I can mark a message as unread and find it later. If you use Apple’s hidden Filter Unknown Senders feature, you can even filter to just see your unread messages! It’s too hard to find (I missed it entirely for a while), but I’ll take what I can get.

How did I ever type without haptics?

In Messages, you can also now unsend and edit a message. If you and your recipient both use iOS 16, it works seamlessly: the text changes in place, with a small blue “Edited” symbol underneath that you can tap to see all versions of the message. (You can edit up to five times and up to 15 minutes after you first sent it.) If you’re not all on the latest Apple software on your stuff, you’re doomed to that hideous “David edited this message” text that Android users will learn to know all too well. The unsend feature, meanwhile, only works iMessage to iMessage; there’s no retrieving that text you sent an Android friend. And don’t hold your breath for RCS to solve that problem.

(Video) iOS 16 lock screen experience! Every new feature!

iOS 16 review: unlocking the lock screen (4)

Image: Apple / David Pierce

One feature I had high hopes for was the dictation improvements in iOS 16. In theory, you can dictate both more and better than ever: it now has emoji recognition, so “heart emoji” actually renders the heart emoji, and it also tries to automatically insert punctuation. You can also now dictate and type at the same time, which is a bit confusing if you accidentally brush the mic button without realizing it and suddenly your text field is filled with background chatter the mic picked up.These features were so hit-and-miss that I just stopped using them altogether. And honestly, if you can remember the names of all the emoji, you should be studied by scientists.

As phones have gotten bigger, Apple’s started shifting its UI emphasis down toward the bottom of the screen. The URL bar in Safari, the Spotlight search bar, and all sorts of other tappable UI fields have been moved down to save your stretchy thumbs. It’s definitely the right idea, but it takes some time to get used to the look; typing something and seeing the results up above felt odd for weeks before I stopped noticing it.

(One other thing you might notice at the bottom of your iPhone? A small translucent pill that says “Search.” This replaced the old button that showed how many homescreens you have and seems to exist entirely to remind users that Spotlight exists. And, PSA: Spotlight is awesome. You should use Spotlight. A quick search is still the fastest way to find an app or a contact, and it’s even a halfway decent way to search through your emails and texts.)

Features like this make up the bulk of iOS 16, and there are a lot of them. (Apple’s full change log is hilariously long.) In all, the changes do make the phone noticeably more functional and easier to use. The only ongoing problem I’ve had is with video apps, some of which fail in really screwy ways when you try to rotate from portrait mode to full-screen landscape. But developers should fix that quickly enough. Even in the early betas, iOS 16 was more stable than most new software, which says something not only about Apple’s capabilities but also about how much it’s really writing from scratch here.

iOS 16 review: unlocking the lock screen (5)

Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

(Video) iOS 16 - Master the NEW Lock Screen & Home Screen!

As ever, though, third-party developers will be the ones who decide whether iOS 16 is a roaring success or just another iterative update. If they embrace the Dynamic Island, develop interesting lock screen widgets, create Focus filters that give users even more control over what they see and when, and flip their UI to the bottom-up style Apple wants, they could help make the iPhone feel more coherent, more useful when you’re not touching it, and a little simpler when you are. If they don’t, and you mostly use third-party apps, you might not notice much about this year’s new OS.

I’m also hopeful developers and sites quickly adopt passkeys, the new password-free authentication system that iOS 16 supports. Right now, you can hardly use passkeys anywhere, but practically the whole industry is behind the idea, and I expect them to catch on quickly. As they do, your iPhone (or other device because passkeys aren’t an Apple-only thing) becomes the key to your security. And in the few places I could test passkeys, snapping photos of QR codes to authenticate to my device, it worked well in iOS 16.

iOS 16 makes most parts of the iPhone at least a little bit better

As far as Apple is concerned, I think the company is on the right track. It is clearly invested in turning the iPhone into more than just a collection of apps; it wants the phone to be lively and interactive and to get you what you need without requiring you to enter into somebody else’s universe. (The business and antitrust implications of that thinking are complicated and fascinating and not for this review.) I like the idea that my iPhone has all my stuff and the wherewithal to show it to me in the right places without me having to go looking for it. But to really make this work, Apple’s going to need to push even harder on notifications, widgets, Live Activities, and even the Dynamic Island.

All the big-picture stuff aside, iOS 16 makes most parts of the iPhone at least a little bit better. That’s where Apple is now: polishing, tweaking, fine-tuning. If Apple has whiz-bang new ideas about how tech is supposed to work, I bet they’re not coming for the iPhone. The iPhone’s just going to keep getting a little better every year for a lot of years to come.

What are you gonna do, switch?

Correction September 13th 11:45AM: This story has been updated to explain that with the Filter Unknown Senders feature, you can in fact filter to see unread messages. We regret the error.


Does the iOS 16 lock screen stay on? ›

No, iOS 16 itself does not have always-on display. Only the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have always-on display whilst running on iOS 16. This means that unless you have one of those phones, even if you have iOS 16 on your device, you will not get always-on display.

How do I unlock my Apple iPhone lock screen? ›

Unlock iPhone with a passcode

Swipe up from the bottom of the Lock Screen (on an iPhone with Face ID) or press the Home button (on other iPhone models). Enter your passcode.

How do I change my lock screen on iOS 16? ›

Personalize your lock screen

Press and hold on the lock screen, tap the Customize button that appears at the bottom, then tap Add New (you can't customize your existing wallpaper). Change the background: The usual wallpaper options here are a photo, pattern or plain color.

Is it worth downloading iOS 16 beta? ›

Although it's easy to download and install iOS 16.1, developer beta versions aren't intended for general use, especially because they may have unfinished features and issues that might make the iPhone difficult to use. Certain iPhone apps might not work completely with iOS 16.1 yet.

How do I turn on always Display on iOS 16? ›

Turn Always-On display off or on

Go to Settings > Display & Brightness. Scroll down to Always On and turn Always-On display off or on.

How do I unlock my Lock Screen? ›

How to remove Screen Lock on your Android phone. Tap Settings > Security > Screen Lock. If prompted, enter your current lock screen code > None > Delete.

Can you change iPhone Lock Screen? ›

Select Customize to edit your current lock screen. You can tap the photos icon in the bottom-left to change the lock screen picture, swipe left or right to add a filter, and tap the boxes at the top to add widgets. If you tap the current time, you can also change its font and color.

How do I change my Lock Screen display? ›

You can set up a screen lock to help secure your Android phone or tablet.
Set or change a screen lock
  1. Open your phone's Settings app.
  2. Tap Security. ...
  3. To pick a kind of screen lock, tap Screen lock. ...
  4. Tap the screen lock option you'd like to use.

Can iOS 16 beta break your phone? ›

The iOS 16 beta should now be safe for normal users to download and install. However, there is potential for issues like crashing and sub-optimal performance, so do consider the potential instabilities before updating your iPhone to it.

Should I get iOS 16 on my main phone? ›

The main reason to update to ‌iOS 16‌ for most users will be to gain a host of new features, such as Lock Screen customization and widgets, iCloud Shared Photo Library, Passkeys, Shared Tab Groups, and enhancements to Live Text, Visual Look Up, and Dictation, as well as significant updates for Messages, Mail, Home, ...

Can I downgrade from iOS 16 to 15? ›

Open the file and you will see “iTunes will erase and restore iPhone to iOS 15.7 and will verify the restore with Apple” on the screen. Tap “Restore” to start the iOS 16 downgrade. You will the downgrade progress on the screen. Once downgraded, you have to set up your device like a new one.

What's the point of always on display? ›

Always on display (sometimes rendered Always On Display, always-on display, or similar; AOD) is a smartphone feature that has the device continue to show limited information while the phone is asleep. It is widely available on Android handsets, and is available on Apple iPhones since the iPhone 14 Pro.

Will IOS ever get always on display? ›

Apple 's iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max have a new feature called always-on display, which many Android phones have had for years. The advantage is that you can see your widgets, such as the date and the weather, as well as the time, in a low-light mode when your phone is locked.

What is the benefit of always on display? ›

An always-on display (AOD) is a feature that allows a screen to share a small amount of information while the device itself is asleep or inactive. This often includes the date, time, battery status and any notifications you might receive while your device is locked.

How do I get my original background back? ›

Step 1: Right-click an empty area on the desktop and select "Personalize". Step 2: Click "Background" to open the Settings window. Step 3: Select "Picture" under the Background section. Step 4: Click "Browse" under Choose your picture > Navigate to the path on your PC to find your previously saved background.

How do I get the old home screen back? ›

Swipe the screen to the left to get to the All tab. Scroll down until you locate the currently running home screen.
For Android Oreo and later, follow these steps:
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Search for Home.
  3. Tap Home app from the results (Figure C).
  4. Select the home screen launcher you wish to use from the popup (Figure D).
Mar 18, 2019

How can I unlock my screen without the button? ›

The Android face unlock feature is usually in Settings > Security > Smart lock > Trusted face or Settings > Security > Face recognition. To see if the double tap to turn on screen and double tap to turn off screen features are enabled on your Android device, go to Settings to see them.

What is the master code to unlock any phone? ›

Phones don't have a single master pin to unlock them as each is different to the phone according to what the person makes it when they set it up. Often times they can have a SIM pin that is default to 0000 or 1234 but that is the SIM cards pin and can be changed by the user.

What is the lock screen on my iPhone? ›

The Lock Screen—which shows the current time and date, your most recent notifications, and a photo or any custom widgets you've added—appears when you turn on or wake iPhone. From the Lock Screen, you can see notifications, open Camera and Control Center, get information from your favorite apps at a glance, and more.

What is screen layout lock mode? ›

This option is available across all Android smartphones from Samsung, Redmi, Realme, and Oppo. Locking the 'Home Screen' layout feature will prevent the accidental removal of app icons from the main window of your smartphone while unlocking it does the vice versa.

How long does it take to instal iOS 16? ›

iOS 16 Installation- 10 to 20 Mins

Once your device starts downloading iOS 16 from Apple's server, the installation process will begin. On the latest models of Apple devices, the iOS 16 takes 10 minutes to update.

Can you Unbrick your iPhone? ›

The good news is that — as long as there's no hardware damage — it's relatively simple to restore a bricked iPhone. The process is identical on an iPad, as well. All you will need is a Mac or Windows PC, a Lightning/USB-C cable to connect your bricked iDevice to the computer, and an active internet connection.

Is iOS 16 beta glitchy? ›

The iOS 16 beta has its fair share of problems. This doesn't come as much of a surprise given that it's unfinished software and Apple's pre-release software is always plagued by bugs and performance issues.

Can Apple brick your phone? ›

Apple software installed on Apple devices has never permanently bricked any device.

Should I upgrade to iOS 16. 1? ›

iOS 15.7.1 or iOS 16.1: Here's which update to choose

In the end, it's up to you which update to choose, but iOS 16.1 will offer more robust security protection than iOS 15.7.1, making it the obvious choice for anyone who is concerned abouts security or might be a target.

What is the difference between iOS 15 and iOS 16? ›

Compared with iOS 15, iOS 16 has a big change in the style of the lock screen interface. On the new lock screen, we can change fonts and wallpaper, and even put widgets on the lock screen. Therefore, once we light up the screen, we can see the information presented on the widget.

Should you jailbreak your main iPhone? ›

Apple strongly discourages jailbreaking your iPhone. In addition to the risks mentioned above, Apple states that jailbreaking your phone can also lead to crashes, freezes, and data loss.

Can I undo iOS 16 update? ›

To downgrade your iPhone from iOS 16 to iOS 15, you basically need to erase your current phone and then restore it with the new operating system. In order not to lose any of the data on your iPhone, you'll need to have made a backup before you installed the iOS 16 beta.

How to downgrade from iOS 16 to 15 without losing data? ›

Use the search function of Command-F or Control-F to locate it. Change the 16.0 to 15.0 and save the file. To restore the backup, open Finder or iTunes and access the iPhone, then select Restore Backup. Select the backup you have modified then Restore.

How do I go back to iOS 15.7 from iOS 16? ›

How To Downgrade iOS 16 To iOS 15.7 Guide
  1. On iPhone go for Settings -> Apple ID -> Find My and turn Off Find My iPhone.
  2. On computer, Download the iOS 15.7 ipsw file for your iPhone model. ...
  3. Connect iPhone to Mac or Windows computer using the USB to Lightning cable that shipped with your device.
Sep 24, 2022

Why does my iPhone Lock Screen stay on? ›

An iPhone's Auto-Lock feature controls the length of time it takes for the device to automatically turn off the display. When the Auto-Lock menu's “Never” option is selected, your iPhone's display remains on.

How long does Lock Screen last? ›

Out of the box the default is 30 seconds. See the steps to change the Screen Timeout option to keep your phone or tablets screen on for longer. The maximum Screen Timeout time is 10 minutes, but you can also look at turning on the Smart Stay option to let the screen stay on for as long as you're looking at it.

How do I keep my Lock Screen active? ›

How Do I Stop My Android Screen From Turning Off?
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Display.
  3. Tap Sleep or Screen timeout.
  4. Select how long you want your Android smartphone or tablet screen to stay on before turning off due to inactivity. The change will take effect immediately. The maximum time allowed is 30 minutes.
Dec 13, 2021

Does iPhone Lock Screen take time off? ›


How do I disable Lock Screen? ›

How to remove Screen Lock on your Android phone. Tap Settings > Security > Screen Lock. If prompted, enter your current lock screen code > None > Delete.

Why does my Lock Screen not turn off? ›

First, open the Settings app on your phone. Second, click Display & Brightness. Then, select Screen timeout. And finally, adjust your screen timeout to 30 seconds (or 15 seconds.)

Why does my Lock Screen keep turning on? ›

In the Settings menu, scroll down until you see the “Display” entry, then tap that. A little way down this menu, you'll see a toggle for “Ambient Display.” Tap the slider to disable it. That will disable Ambient Display itself, which will prevent the display from waking every time you get a notifications.

How many times can you try to unlock screen time? ›

Screen Time is a parental monitoring app available on iPhones that allows users to monitor their kids' iPhone activities and control their iPhone usage. However, some users often forget their Screen Time passcode and lockout their iPhone after Screen Time passcode 10 failed attempts.

Is Lock Screen necessary? ›

If someone gets hold of your phone, tablet or computer, and there's no lock screen, the thief suddenly has access to everything on your device. While some of your apps will require passwords and multifactor authentication, many apps, like your photos and notes, typically do not.

Why does my lock screen turn off so fast? ›

Your phone or tablet has a power save function that turns the screen off after a predetermined amount of time. If it's set for 15 seconds, it may seem like the screen is turning off too soon, but this is normal.

What happens after 1 hour of iPhone lock? ›

Helpful answers. When the hour is up, you will be given another opportunity to enter the correct passcode. If you get it wrong again too many times, it will lock for 2 hours. If you can't remember it, restore the phone from your last backup.

Can you edit Lock Screen on iPhone? ›

You can personalize your Lock Screen by choosing a wallpaper, customizing the colors and fonts, layering subjects of photos in front of the time, and much more. You can also add widgets with information from your favorite apps to your Lock Screen, such as today's headlines, the weather, and calendar events.


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