With less than two months to go before the launch of the iPhone 14, Apple is continuing to tweak iOS 16. The latest developer beta includes some important improvements to Messages as well as an improved framework for app makers who want to show live data – your Uber's progress; the live scores of a major sporting event – on your Lock Screen.
I don't use developer betas because they're not ready for prime time, but I've been on the public beta for a few weeks now and found it to be absolutely rock solid. And more importantly, it makes my iPhone 13 feel brand new. I think the combination of iOS 16 and the iPhone 14 is going to deliver the best phones Apple has ever made.
So what's so special about iOS 16? As someone who's been using Apple phones since the very first release, this feels to me like the most personal version of Apple's mobile OS. It takes a lot of clever ideas from watchOS on the Apple Watch Series 7 and scales them up, and the result is the most me iPhone I've ever had. With the hardware improvements such as the always-on display of the iPhone 14 Pro, I'm really excited about this year's best iPhone.
iOS 16 is a little box of delights
One of the things I love about my Apple Watch is that it's uniquely mine: the likelihood that you have the same face, the same apps, the same complications and the same automations is vanishingly small. Everything I want is where I want it to be, when I want it to be there. And with the new Lock Screen in particular in iOS 16, my iPhone feels the same.
I love the weather wallpaper that I don't even to read to know whether I need a coat; the improved notifications; the way I can set different Lock Screens for different times or modes so my phone reflects what I'm up to at any given time. And I've already bored everybody senseless with the automatic background removal that means I can take photos of my friends, children or dog, extract the subject and slap them into a meme.
I'm also loving some of the little things, like the ability to properly customise the Lock Screen text and the new haptic feedback on the keyboard. Yes, Android has had that forever. But it still makes me smile every time I use it. And I like the improved media controls that change the way my iPhone looks when I'm listening to Apple Music or a podcast. Visual Lookup, which can recognise objects and animals in photos, is even more magical now it can recognise more things, and it's much easier to switch between typing and dictation when you're composing messages or mail.
I've owned a lot of iPhones, and I think over time I've become immune to many of its charms. But with iOS 16 I'm encountering lots of little moments, little things that make me happy, things that make my phone work more like I'd like it to work, things that deliver little bursts of joy. iPhones have always been brilliant devices, but they haven't always been this much fun. I think the combination of iOS 16 and the iPhone 14, particularly the iPhone 14 Pro, is going to make me smile a lot.