Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

Apple prides itself on its hardware-software synergy, and the iPhone with iOS is the best example of it. No matter where you stand on the iOS vs Android debate, it’s hard to deny that millions of people like iOS. iOS isn’t perfect by any means, and Apple has slowly but surely been adding features to the operating system leading up to the release of iOS 17. Here are all the new features Apple has added to iOS through updates over the years!

Apple updates explained

Apple Beta Software Program

Before we begin, it is important to understand Apple’s update cycle. Every year at WWDC (usually in June), Apple announces the newest version of iOS, detailing many changes and new features that the update will bring to iOS devices.

However, the update only rolls out in developer and public betas after WWDC. For average users, the stable iOS update rolls out only with the launch of the new iPhone (usually in September). For this article, we are focusing on stable iOS releases.

Further, everything that Apple announces at WWDC isn’t rolled out with the first stable release. Instead, some features may arrive in subsequent releases.

Apple also has two levels of subversioning. The first-level point releases (for example, iOS 16.1) usually indicate adding new features. In contrast, the second-level point releases (for example, iOS 16.1.1) typically focus on bug fixes and security updates and rarely contain new features. If there are new features to add, Apple usually jumps up to the next first-level point release (for example, iOS 16.2 after iOS 16.1.3).

When is iOS 17 coming out with new features?

Apple iOS 17 Logo

iOS 17 brings features like Contact Posters, NameDrop, Live Stickers, and more to users. All of these are user-facing changes that we bet many users would appreciate. You can check out all the new features in our comprehensive iOS 17 features coverage.

As for the release of iOS 17, you can expect the first stable release of iOS 17 to be released to the public in September 2023, right when the iPhone 15 series launches.


New features added in iOS 16.6

Despite the major sub-version increase, this is a small update that included bug fixes and security patches.


New features added in iOS 16.5.1

This was a small update that included bug fixes and security patches.

New features added in iOS 16.5

Apple Watch Pride Edition Celebration wallpaper

New features added and changes made in iOS 16.5 are as follows:

  • One new Pride Celebration wallpaper.
  • Apple News gets a new Sports tab with My Sports score and schedule cards.
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes.

New features added in iOS 16.4.1

This was a small update that included bug fixes and security patches.

New features added in iOS 16.4

New features added and changes made in iOS 16.4 are as follows:

  • Added 21 new emojis.
  • You can now get notifications for web apps added to the Home Screen.
  • Voice Isolation for cellular calls prioritizes voice and blocks out ambient noise.
  • Accessibility setting to automatically dim video when flashes of light or strobe effects are detected.
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes.

New features added in iOS 16.3.1

This was a small update that included bug fixes and security patches.

New features added in iOS 16.3

Apple Black History Month Black Unity Collection

There were no minor releases between iOS 16.2 and iOS 16.3. New features added and changes made in iOS 16.3 are as follows:

  • New Unity wallpapers.
  • Security Keys for Apple ID allows physical security keys to be used for two-factor authentication on new devices.
  • Emergency SOS calls now require holding the side button with the up or down volume button to prevent accidental emergency calls.
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes.

New features added in iOS 16.2

iOS 16.2’s highlight was the addition of the Freeform app and the improvements to the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always On Display.

Freeform

Apple Freeform app

The Freeform app is a new app that presents a canvas for users to work creatively and collaborate. It includes drawing tools to enable sketching and lets you add files, images, stickies, and more.

Apple Music Sing

Apple Music Sing lyrics

Apple Music added a Sing function, allowing you to karaoke within the app with beat-by-beat lyrics. You can even adjust vocals to let you duet with the original artist or sing solo.

Lockscreen and Improvements to Always On Display

This update addressed the complaints that the iPhone 14 Pro‘s Always On Display was too bright and busy. The Always On Display just felt like a dimmer lockscreen. With this update, you could hide the wallpaper and notifications from the lockscreen, giving the Always On Display a more minimal look and its own identity.

You can also add two new widgets to the lockscreen: Sleep and Medication.

Miscellaneous changes

Other features added and changes made are as follows:

  • SharePlay support was added in Game Center for multiplayer games.
  • Added support for Live Activities for the Apple TV app.
  • AirDrop automatically reverts to Contacts Only after 10 minutes to prevent unwanted AirDrop requests.

New features added in iOS 16.1.1, 16.1.2

These minor releases addressed bugs and improved security.

New features added in iOS 16.1

iOS 16.1 was the next big update to the OS. Even though it is a point release, it added some of the features shown off in the keynote in iOS 16 but hadn’t actually made their way on the first release.

iCloud Shared Photo Library

iOS 16.1 allowed users to create an iCloud Shared Photo Library with up to six people. You can then share existing iCloud photos or share based on a start date or people in the photos. There was also a toggle in the Camera app that would send photos automatically to this Shared Library.

Users could also receive intelligent suggestions to share a photo that includes participants in the Shared Photo Library.

Everyone in the library could add, delete, edit, or favorite the shared photos or videos. This made it very seamless to share common photos with people, such as your family and friend circles.

Live Activities

Live Activities support for third-party apps was added in this update. These can now appear on the Dynamic Island and the Lock Screen for iPhone 14 Pro models.

Miscellaneous changes

Other features added are as follows:

  • Wallet: Users could now share keys from Wallet through messaging apps.
  • Home: Added Matter support for smart home accessories to work across ecosystems.

New features added in iOS 16.0.1, 16.0.2, 16.0.3

Apple released a few minor updates after the big release of iOS 16. These sub-releases were mainly bug fixes, with many targeting the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max’s cameras.

New features added in iOS 16 update

Apple iOS 16

iOS 16 has been one of the more noticeable changes to Apple’s operating system, thanks to the visible revamp of the lockscreen that made its way to the first release of iOS 16.

Revamped lockscreen

Apple iOS 16 Lockscreen

iOS had a fairly basic lockscreen before this update, where you had the usual wallpaper and notifications. With iOS 16, Apple allowed users to customize many elements of this lockscreen.

Users can change the font and color of the date and time widgets and add up to four widgets that are similar to Apple Watch complications. This allows them to have glanceable information such as upcoming calendar events, weather, battery levels of accessories, alarms, time zones, Activity ring progress, and more.

Further, users could set vivid backgrounds. iOS would then take the subject of that set photo and create a multilayered depth effect with these widgets. You can see some parts of the date and time widget tastefully hiding behind the subject of your wallpaper. You could also apply a photo style to your image right on the lockscreen.

Apple also added the ability to set multiple lock screens, each with its own customization. These lockscreens could also be tied to focus modes. Changing between the lockscreen was just a long press and a swipe, so you could also easily toggle your focus mode settings along with it.

iOS 16 also included new live wallpapers, such as a Weather wallpaper and several Astronomy wallpapers. Users could also create lockscreens using their favorite emoji or color combinations.

Apple WWDC22 iOS16 Lockscreen Notifications 220606 inline.jpg.medium

This update also changed how notifications appeared on the lockscreen. They now emerge from the bottom of the lockscreen instead of the middle of it.

Live Activities

Apple also introduced dynamic notifications to the lockscreen as Live Activities. You can see an up-to-date view of activities in real-time, such as a workout, ride-share, food delivery order, or sports game.

Focus

Apple WWDC22 iOS16 Focus switcher 220606 inline.jpg.medium

Apple introduced Focus in iOS 15, but iOS 16 made it easier to toggle. You could link various Focus modes to various lockscreens and their widgets. Swiping around to the relevant lockscreen would set the linked Focus, so you could easily switch between modes that made sense for your situation. iOS 16 also added focus filters to hide distracting content in some apps.

New features in Messages

iOS 16 gave the Messages app some new features. Users could now edit or recall recently sent messages. They can also recover recently deleted messages and mark conversations as unread.

Messages also got SharePlay abilities to allow people to enjoy synced content while texting. You could also collaborate with people with Collaboration from within the Messages app.

New features in Mail

Mail got a slew of new features, such as:

  • Improved search
  • Undo send: This lets you cancel the delivery of a message within 10 seconds of hitting Send.
  • Scheduled send
  • Follow-up: Surfaces sent emails that have not received a reply.
  • Remind me: Set reminders to be reminded about an email.

Upgrades to Live Text and Visual Look Up

Apple WWDC22 iOS16 Live Text translate 01 220606 inline.jpg.medium

Live Text can now recognize text in videos (previously, it could recognize text in images). You can also quickly translate text, convert currency, track flights and shipments, and more.

Visual Look Up introduced the wildly popular feature of lifting subjects from their background and letting them be pasted into other apps. This changed how people share content, opening up an easy way to customize social media posts, make stickers, etc.

Visual Look Up also added recognition of birds, insects, spiders, and statues in photos.

Safari and Passkey

With iOS 16, Safari added the ability to share a Tab Group. Tab Groups can have their start pages customized and also have tabs pinned.

Safari also gained support for passkeys, an easier and safer sign-in method that replaces passwords with a digital key triggered after biometric verification. Passkeys can also be synced through iCloud Keychain now.

Siri

Siri got a few new tricks with iOS 16. You can now run shortcuts as soon as an app is downloaded without any further setup. Siri could also directly send messages without requiring confirmation. iOS 16 also added two new Siri commands: “Hey Siri, hang up” to hang up calls and “Hey Siri, what can I do here?” to discover Siri’s capabilities in iOS and apps.

Dictation

Dictation now supports using your voice and keyboard in tandem to enter and edit text. You can also add emojis with your voice, while automatic punctuation inserts commas, periods, and question marks as you dictate.

Maps

Apple Maps improved in iOS 16 with multistop routing (up to 15 stops) and automatic route syncing between Mac and iPhone. You can also store transit cards to see their low balances and transit fares along your route.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay got its Apple Pay Later functionality, allowing users to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase. Also added is Apple Pay Order Tracking for detailed receipts and order tracking information in Wallet for Apple Pay purchases with select merchants.

Wallet

Wallet gets expanded support for IDs, letting users use the ID for apps requiring identity and age verification.

Home

The Home app got a redesign in iOS 16. The Home tab now integrates everything into a single tab for a whole-house view. Rooms now have categories with more detailed status information on the constituent devices. There is also a new camera view that displays up to four cameras.

Health and Fitness

iOS 16 added Medications, letting users track their medications and set reminders. Medications can be added through the camera, and the iPhone can alert you if a new medicine can cause a critical interaction. The Health app also made it easy to share health data. Health also added cycle deviation notifications for menstrual health.

Safety Check

Safety Check is a new tool added in iOS 16 that helps people in domestic violence situations quickly remove all access they have granted to others. An emergency reset allows users to sign out of their iCloud account on all other devices, reset privacy permissions, and even turn off location sharing via Find My.

Miscellaneous changes

There are plenty of other minor changes across iOS 16:

  • Handoff in FaceTime now allows you to move FaceTime calls between iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
  • Apple News added a My Sports section to follow your favorite teams and leagues.
  • Family Sharing makes setting up a child account easy with the proper parental controls.
  • CarPlay can now provide content for multiple screens within the car and let you access and control more settings in your vehicle.
  • Personalized Spatial Audio allows users to use the TrueDepth camera to create a personal profile for Spatial Audio.
  • Accessibility changes include Door Detection, Apple Watch Mirroring, Buddy controller, and Live Captions.
  • Photos app can detect duplicates for cleanup.
  • The Fitness app lets you track fitness goals without an Apple Watch, using iPhone’s motion sensors instead.
  • Rapid Security Response allows important security improvements to be installed between standard software updates.

New features added in iOS 15 update

Apple iOS 15

iOS 15 brought some notable changes. Here is a summary of the different features that this update brought to the iPhone:

  • FaceTime gets several upgrades like spatial audio support, portrait mode, FaceTime links to invite Android and Windows users, and more.
  • Focus is a new feature that lets users automatically filter notifications based on their current activity. Focus allowed for custom Homescreen pages and even displayed your status to your contacts in Messages conversations, indicating that your notifications are silenced.
  • Notifications now include contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. You can also opt for a notification summary.
  • Live Text can recognize text in a photo.
  • Safari gets a redesign with a bottom tab bar.
  • Apple Maps gets a big update with more details, a route planner, AR walking directions, and a night mode now available.
  • Wallet gets support for home, hotel, office, and car keys.
  • New iPhone setup lets users temporarily back up their data to iCloud without a subscription, allowing them to migrate to a new iPhone easily.
  • iCloud Plus subscription is launched, giving you premium features and additional storage.
  • Several on-device processing changes to apps.
  • Many more features and bug fixes.

FAQs

iOS 17 is the latest iOS update that is available for developers and testers. For users, the newest update is iOS 16.6.

Yes. iOS 16 introduces a whole host of cool features that genuinely enhance the user experience. Since the update has been around for a while, most bugs and battery issues have been ironed out. You can safely update to iOS 16.

You cannot theoretically skip an iOS update. Still, you can skip updating for a whole year, let another major iOS update drop, and then update in quick succession to this new update. However, this is not worth the hassle. In general, we recommend users install the latest available stable update on their iPhone as and when convenient.

Yes, iOS updates often include upgrades and enhancements to the Camera app and image processing. Not every update will improve the camera experience on all iPhones. But in general, these updates frequently contain fixes and improvements for the camera.


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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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