13 Things You Need to Know About Your iPhone’s Home Screen in iOS 16 « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

The Home Screen is the most important part of your iPhone when it comes to customization, and Apple is giving us even more options to customize in iOS 16.

In iOS 15, you could already hide apps and even entire pages from your Home Screen. You could also change the icons of apps that offered alternatives or switch out any app icon using Shortcuts. And you could set wallpapers to automatically change based on the time, the current dark or light theme, and other triggers.

You still have all of those options in iOS 16, but there are even more features you can customize on your iPhone’s Home Screen now. And there are a few significant changes you’ll want to know about. This fall, Apple will release iOS 16 to the general public, so some of these Home Screen improvements may change during developer and public beta testing.

1. Spotlight Search Takes Over Your Page Dots

The iOS 16 update replaces the page dots above the dock on your Home Screen with a new Spotlight Search bubble. Tapping it does the same as swiping down on a Home Screen page. And like page dots, you can swipe left or right on the Search bubble to speed scroll through your other Home Screen pages.

Long-pressing the bubble or tapping on it in the Home Screen editor will still open up the page selection tool to show or hide pages.

2. You Can Bring Back the Page Dots

If you like the old page dots and prefer swiping down the Spotlight Search tool or using Back Tap, you can bring back the dots. Go to Settings –> Home Screen, then toggle off the new “Show Spotlight” switch.

3. Spotlight’s Search Bar Is Above the Keyboard

Following in Safari’s footsteps, the search bar is directly above the keyboard every time you open the Spotlight Search tool on your Home Screen, so your eyes don’t have to stray as far to see what you’re typing. When you scroll through the results, the bar moves to the bottom of the screen when the keyboard hides.

4. There’s Finally a Books Widget

For some reason, Apple never made a widget for its Books app — until now. In iOS 16, you can add the new Books widget to your Home Screen or Today View. The small widget shows the current book you’re reading and your daily goal. The medium one also shows the percentage completed. And the large also shows the days of the week.

5. Wallpapers Auto-Match Your Lock Screen

One of the most prominent features in iOS 16 lets you customize your Lock Screen with a different background for each occasion. With each Lock Screen wallpaper, you can choose between a font type, select a color theme, and add widgets.

When you add a new Lock Screen wallpaper to your arsenal from the Lock Screen or via Settings –> Wallpaper –> Add New Wallpaper, the Home Screen wallpaper will automatically match it.

6. There Are Emoji and Cool Colors for Wallpapers

When changing the Lock Screen wallpaper, you can choose a repeating emoji or group of emoji in different grid styles. Plus, the “Color” option lets you pick any solid color and apply a gradient effect such as Bright, Vapor, Deep, Tone, and Vibrant. Since the default Home Screen wallpaper is the same as a new Lock Screen wallpaper, you can use these options for your Home Screen background too.

7. There Are Automated Wallpapers Too

To make your iPhone automatically change wallpapers in iOS 15, you would have to set up an automation in the Shortcuts app. That’s no longer required if you want to shuffle through your own photos, weather conditions, or astronomy updates. You can set these up when selecting a Lock Screen wallpaper, and they’ll also be your Home Screen background unless you change it manually in Settings –> Wallpaper.

8. You Can Change Associated Wallpapers

If you don’t like having the same Lock Screen and Home Screen wallpaper at the same time, you can make them different just like before. Go to Settings –> Wallpaper, tap the Home Screen image, and choose another option, such as a color shade, color gradient, or photo. After you hit “Done,” that wallpaper is associated with the Lock Screen wallpaper that’s currently active. So when you switch Lock Screen wallpapers, it will also use the Home Screen wallpaper you set for it.

9. There’s a Legibility Blur for Apple Wallpapers

When using one of Apple’s wallpapers for your Home Screen background, you’ll see an option in the wallpaper editor called “Legibility Blur.” By default, it’s off, but when you turn it on, the wallpaper blurs to bring more focus to the apps, folders, widgets, and other content on your Home Screen pages.

10. You Can Choose Any Solid Color Wallpaper Fill

While Apple had a few solid color wallpapers from time to time, you always had to find your own image to use if you wanted a solid color background on your Home Screen. Not anymore. The third option from the left in the Home Screen wallpaper editor is the solid color fill. Tap “Configure” on the preview image to bring up the color picker, where you can choose a color and its strength.

Tip: If you want the same solid color on your Home Screen and Lock Screen, you can choose “Color” from the Lock Screen wallpaper picker, select your color, and then swipe to the “Solid” option.

11. Or Any Gradient Wallpaper Fill

If you like more of a fading color than a solid one, the second option from the left in the Home Screen wallpaper editor lets you choose a gradient. Tap “Configure” on the preview image to bring up the gradient picker, where you can select a gradient color and its strength.

Tip: If you want the same solid gradient on your Home Screen and Lock Screen, you can choose “Color” from the Lock Screen wallpaper picker, select your color, and then swipe to one of the non-solid gradient options. There are more gradient styles here than in the Home Screen-only wallpaper editor, but “Vibrant” is the closest style.

12. Photo Wallpapers Can Be Natural or B&W

If you select a photo for your Home Screen’s background, you can now choose to keep it as is (“Natural”) in the wallpaper editor or make it “Black & White” instead. Swiping left changes it to the B&W version, and swiping right returns to the original picture.

13. Focus Lets You Choose Focused Home Pages

There are a lot of changes to Apple’s Focus tool for iPhone, and one of them gives you home page suggestions when setting up the focus.

Tap “Choose” for Home Screen in the new Customize Screens section, and you’ll see page suggestions that remove apps and widgets unrelated to that focus. For example, a work focus may only keep apps related to emails, tasks, contacts, automation, stocks, utilities, etc. If none of the suggestions work for you, scroll down to find your current Home Screen pages to toggle them for the focus.

Only the Home Screen pages you chose during the focus setup will appear on your iPhone whenever the focus is active. If you didn’t select any during the focus setup, your Home Screen would remain the same as before.

What’s Missing?

We’ve wanted it for a long time, but Apple still has not delivered a way to remove app, folder, and widget names from the Home Screen. There are workarounds you can use to accomplish it, but we wanted Apple to include an option in iOS 16 to change icon and widget names.

Other features that would be cool on the Home Screen include a way to space out app icons and hide the dock, but these didn’t show up in iOS 16 either.

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Cover photo, screenshots, and GIFs by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks


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