Apple’s next big software update includes an entirely new Apple app, better Siri control, an improved Shortcuts app, interesting Safari changes, and more. Keep reading to see what iOS 16.2 has to offer your iPhone.
The iOS 16.1 update appeared on Oct. 24 with over 20 big features and changes, and the first iOS 16.2 beta appeared just one day later, and there’s no expected release date for the stable software version. It took 40 days of testing before iOS 16.1 hit everybody’s devices, so we may be looking at a similar timeline for iOS 16.2.
While still in beta development, there are many new things to try out on iOS 16.2. While I’ll be focusing on the new features from an iPhone perspective, most of the items listed below are also working on iPadOS 16.2 for iPad and macOS 13.1 Ventura for Mac, also in beta.
Apple’s new Freeform app, available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is another productivity tool you can add to your arsenal. It’s one big flexible canvas, like a digital whiteboard/corkboard hybrid, and you can add post-it notes, shapes, files, links, scans, photos and videos, audio, typed text, and markups like drawings and highlights to it.
Freeform’s biggest highlight is collaboration, so you can plan projects, brainstorm ideas, create inspiration boards, and more. You can see everything collaborators do on the canvas, from adding content to making edits, all in real time. Collaboration can be started via FaceTime, with updates from everyone visible in an associated Messages thread.
You can show or hide the canvas grid from within each board, and the app’s settings let you show or hide the center, edge, and spacing guides.
On iOS 16.0–16.1, the only options you have for verbal Siri responses on your iPhone are between Automatic and Prefer Spoken Responses. Automatic uses on-device intelligence to determine when it should speak or not, while Prefer Spoken Responses commands Siri to almost always talk out loud, even with Silent Mode enabled. This is in contrast to previous iOS versions that always had a third option that gave you more control over keeping Siri quiet nearly all the time.
The new iOS 16.2 update brings back the third option as Prefer Silent Responses. According to the fine print in Settings –> Siri & Search –> Siri Responses, Siri will respond silently with this option enabled, “except when you appear to be driving or using headphones with the screen off.”
The Shortcuts app has been constantly tweaked on iOS 16, and the iOS 16.2 update is no different. This time, there are a few differences and new scripting actions available for wallpapers:
- Get Wallpaper (new): Gets all of your Lock Screen wallpapers, and returns them as output so you can use them with other actions. This action can not be run on Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad.
- Switch Between Wallpapers (new): Switches the current Lock Screen wallpaper. If the wallpaper has a linked Focus, this action will set the Focus, too. This action can not be run on Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad.
- Set Wallpaper Photo (renamed): Sets the wallpaper to the specified image. This action can not be run on Apple Watch.
In an early iOS 16.0 beta, Apple teased a bunch of new actions in Shortcuts for its Books app, but none of them materialized for the stable iOS 16.0 or 16.1 updates. Most of the teased actions are back on iOS 16.2, giving us more than just Add PDF to Books and Siri-suggested actions based on your activity.
- Add PDF to Books
- Change Book Appearance
- Change Page Navigation
- Change View
- Open Book or Audiobook
- Open Collection
- Play Audiobook
- Search in Books
- Turn Page
If you subscribe to iCloud+ and use iCloud Private Relay to hide your IP address in Safari from the websites you visit — not just known trackers that everyone can enable — you can now toggle the option off per website from the page settings.
Right now, it appears to work per session, so you may have to turn it off again for a site if you refresh the page. A proper toggle switch under Website Settings may be coming in a future update, but nothing is there now or in the Settings app.
Following iOS 16.1’s new support for Matter accessories, an architecture upgrade for the Home app is available for iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, macOS 13.1, and HomePod 16.2. According to Apple, the update will make smart home performance faster and more reliable, especially in homes with many connected accessories.
You will see the option to install the Home update when you open the Home app. If not, you can update via Home –> My Home –> Home Settings –> Updates. All connected devices must run the latest software to view, access, and control a home updated to the newest architecture. If they aren’t, you won’t be able to use them.
In the beta, iOS 16.2 shows a notification when you trigger Emergency SOS on your iPhone. When you tap the notification, it opens the Feedback tool, asking for feedback on Unintentional SOS Calls. If you state that you unintentionally triggered Emergency SOS, you’ll see more questions, including:
- How did you realize that Emergency SOS was triggered on your iPhone?
- Where was your iPhone when Emergency SOS was triggered?
- What were you doing at the time Emergency SOS was triggered?
- Do you know how Emergency SOS was triggered on your iPhone?
- Has Emergency SOS been unintentionally triggered on your iPhone in this way before?
After you submit or cancel the report, you’ll end up in your Emergency SOS settings to adjust preferences if needed. Apple likely added this to iOS 16.2 because of a long history of accidental emergency calls and more recent reports of Crash Detection on iPhone 14 series models going off on rollercoasters, when skydiving, and in other scenarios with extreme accelerations and decelerations up to 256 G-forces.
In one of iOS 16.2’s minor updates, the Software Update screen in Settings shows the currently installed iOS version using a big, bold font.
While it was already available as an experimental Safari setting since iOS 15.4, iOS 16.2 finally enables the CSS Gradient Interpolation Color Spaces by default. Web app engineer Adam Argyle has a good demonstration of what it looks like on Codepen that you can try out. In the GIFs below, you can see that no gradient colorspaces appear on iOS 16.1 (left) but do on iOS 16.2 (right).
Another experimental Safari setting now enabled by default on iOS 16.2 is CSS color-mix(), which takes two color values and mixes them in a colorspace by a given amount. You can test it out by visiting MDN Web Docs’ page on the functional notation, which has an example near the bottom. Below, you can see that iOS 16.1 does not show mixed colors at all (left) but iOS 16.2 does (right).
Third-party apps that animate UI elements with SwiftUI instead of UIKit reported issues viewing the animations via the 120 Hz refresh rates on ProMotion displays. While it was never an issue for iPads, it’s now fixed on iOS 16.2 for iPhones.
- Apple brought back the external display support for Stage Manager on M1 and M2 iPad models, which lets you use up to eight apps simultaneously instead of up to four.
Apple has not added back all the glyphs available for shortcut icons that it took away with the iOS 16.1 update, and there’s no reason to believe the images will be back in the Shortcuts app any time soon.
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