iPhone’s New iOS 16 Update Is Coming Soon | Early Clues Hint What to Expect

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With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) set to kick off in less than eight weeks, we’re seeing some hints on what features are expected to headline iOS 16.

Apple isn’t just going to show off the next major release of its iPhone operating system on stage on June 6; it’s also expected to have the first developer beta ready for release. So, it stands to reason that there must be more than a few internal developers and engineers who are already running very early beta or “alpha” versions.

While we have yet to get a peek at what iOS 16 will actually look like, Mark Gurman has shared a few tidbits on the marquee features of the new release.

Gurman says the next iOS release is codenamed “Sydney” and is expected to include “some fairly significant enhancements across the board.”

If you were hoping for a significant redesign of the iOS UI, you’re going to be disappointed, however. Things haven’t changed much since iOS 7, but Gurman suggests Apple’s happy with the current design.

That’s not too surprising, though. Even the major redesign for iOS 7 in 2013 was arguably as much about internal politics within Apple as anything else. The original iPhone user interface had been designed by Scott Forstall, who had been shown the door the year before. It was a polarizing look that many other executives reportedly hated, so when Jony Ive took the helm of iOS design, it was the first thing to go, purely on principle.

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The two most significant changes, Gurman says, will be “an update to notifications and new health-tracking features.” Although he doesn’t elaborate on the notification changes, the folks at 9to5Mac have done some digging on their own and discovered some interesting Focus Mode enhancements.

Focus Mode Changes

The first hints of these changes can be found in code hidden within the betas of iOS 15.5 and macOS 12.4, both of which were released to developers earlier this month. Both appear to include warning messages suggesting that iOS 16 will debut new Focus Modes that won’t be compatible with devices running older versions of the operating system.

Focus Mode settings can be mirrored across all of your devices. For example, set “Work” mode on your iPhone, and your Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch will automatically go into the same mode.

This creates a problem if iOS 16 and macOS 13 introduce new Focus Mode features that aren’t available in iOS 15 or macOS 12. Upgrade your iPhone to iOS 16 and leave your Mac running macOS 12 Monterey, and some things won’t sync up properly between the two platforms.

For example, one string that 9to5Mac found in iOS 15.5 says, “Using an allowed list for this Focus will cause these settings to be lost on your other devices with newer software.” This suggests that at least one current Focus Mode feature — allowing specific users or apps to get through when notifications are silenced — will be handled differently in iOS 16.

Likewise, another string in the iOS 15.5 beta warns when “a device with newer software has updated [a] Focus to use a new configuration this device doesn’t support.” In this case, the user is told to either update their iPhone to “the latest software” (which would be iOS 16) or “use an allowed list for this Focus.”

9to5Mac has found similar code in Apple News that hints at a new type of content arriving with iOS 16. Two strings suggest older devices won’t be able to see certain kinds of Apple News content, with iOS 15.5 either telling the user to “update your device in order to see this content” or that “News is no longer fully supported on older devices.”

The second warning is presumably for iPhone models that can’t be updated to iOS 16. This provides the first solid hint we’ve seen that Apple will be leaving at least some models behind this year, but that’s another thing that shouldn’t come as a surprise; the last time Apple dropped support for older iPhone models was with the release of iOS 13 in 2019. Apple has already set a new record by continuing to support the 2015-era iPhone 6s for nearly seven years, so it’s fair to say it’s been living on borrowed time.

Health Tracking Features

Following up on his Power On newsletter, Gurman shared a few additional details in Bloomberg on the “new health-tracking features.”

Gurman says that an updated version of the Health app will add “expanded sleep tracking functionality, medicine management and new women’s health features.”

Sources say that Apple has been working on a “medicine management tool” that will remind users to take their medication by employing machine learning features. The goal is to allow users to “scan their pill bottles into the app” and then let it figure out how they’re supposed to take their medication, monitoring adherence and reminding them accordingly. However, Gurman says that iOS 16 “is unlikely to include all of the planned functionality.”

Meanwhile, the “women’s health features” Gurman mentions are likely related to reports of a new body temperature sensor, which multiple sources are now saying will be focused entirely on fertility monitoring and family planning.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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