Apple's iOS 16.1 update is bringing some big free upgrades to your iPhone

Some of iOS 16's best new features are coming in iOS 16.1

Google iOS 16 Lock Screen widgets
(Image credit: Google)

It's been a good month for iPhone users. Not only has Google embraced the Lock Screen with stacks of brilliant Lock Screen widgets (pictured above), but the iOS 16.1 update that's coming on Monday is a pretty big upgrade with some important new features.

The biggest feature here is iCloud Shared Photo Library, which is a vast improvement over the normal Shared Albums feature in Photos. You can now share over iCloud with up to five other people, and they can add to, edit and even delete images too. It's a great option for sharing with family members, and you can instantly switch Photos between personal and shared libraries or see both at once. I've been experimenting with it in the beta and I like it a lot.

Your Lock Screen is getting a whole lot smarter

Another new feature I'm really looking forward to is Live Activities, which will enable third party apps to update your Lock Screen with key information such as the location of your Uber driver or the current score in a sporting event. If you have the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max, Live Activities can use the Dynamic Island as well as the Lock Screen.

Some of the other features are a bit less obvious but still very useful. Matter support is coming to the Home app, opening your smart home tech to a much bigger world of devices, and Apple Fitness+ no longer needs you to have an Apple Watch in order to use it. And in the US, there's support for Clean Energy Charging. That charges your iPhone at times when the grid is using cleaner energy sources, Apple says.

There are plenty of other improvements too, and Apple has detailed them all online in its release notes (opens in new tab)

iOS 16.1 will go live on Monday 24 October alongside iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. For some features, such as the shared photo library, you'll need to upgrade your iPad and Mac too as it's not backwards compatible with older versions of their operating systems.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).