I installed the iOS 16 beta so you don’t have to

And I have some thoughts.

WWDC week is always both exciting and daunting. I always look forward to hearing about what Apple’s doing with each of its platforms, but there’s always so much news to cover and so many nuanced articles you could write that it gets a little overwhelming. So this year, I tried to cover as much as I could by doing a liveblog during the show, and it went really well. If you wanna read the recap, I’ve got it linked here.

Overall, I thought the show was exciting, mostly because of how quickly Apple was tearing through its announcements. Like, usually, these keynotes are two hours long where each new product or service gets enough time to be detailed and explained to the public. With this one, Apple tried to do just that, but also try to incorporate a gazillion other announcements and keep the entire thing to under two hours.

There was a lot of news that came out of the show, including iOS 16iPadOS 16macOS Ventura, watchOS 9, the new M2 chip, a redesigned MacBook Air, and more. I have a few full-length articles up on the site that cover these announcements, and my big takeaway from most of them is just how significant they all feel. The iPad gets closer to a Mac-like experience with iPadOS 16, Ventura makes the Mac much more capable when multitasking, watchOS 9 further improves the fitness experience, and the new MacBook Air is the biggest redesign of the laptop since its inception in 2008.

But like any other tech enthusiast, you’re probably most curious about iOS 16. After all, it’s the operating system billions of people have in their pockets at all times. I initially hesitated to install the developer beta on my iPhone, but after hearing some of my tech friends say it wasn’t all that bad bug-wise, I figured I’d give it a go. I’m a man of the people, and it’s my job to give you the scoop on the latest technologies. So I downloaded the developer profile, installed iOS 16, and have been using it for the past few days.

iOS 16 first impressions

I will say, right off the bat, the new lock screen in iOS 16 is delightful. There are lots of different ways to customize it, and I’ve had fun poking around to see what you can do. I wound up keeping my incredibly simple, almost insultingly simple given the amount of flexibility you have. I’ve got the stock iOS 16 wallpaper with the standard font, a weather widget on the left, and a Fitness widget on the right. I like simplicity so this looks great to me, but I’m sure many of you will find it bland.

I like how notifications are now presented at the bottom of the lock screen instead of the middle. This has greatly improved how I interact with them since I can reach them so much easier. I’m sure many of you with iPhone Pro Maxes will particularly like this change.

Once you swipe out of the lock screen, you’re greeted by a very familiar home screen. It hasn’t changed much at all, beyond the new Spotlight search button which replaces the traditional page indicator dots. You can disable the button if you want, but as of developer beta 1, it comes pre-enabled out of the box. This doesn’t make Spotlight any easier to access since you can still swipe down to search, so I think it’s just a ploy to get more users to realize it exists.

Spotlight’s also supposed to be seeing improvements in iOS 16, but I haven’t noticed any that jump out as noteworthy.

There are lots of new features scattered across Apple’s own apps – Messages gets undo/redo, message deleting, and an edit button for texts; Photos has a new iCloud Shared Photo Library; Mail has new reply reminders and email scheduling; Live Text works with videos; etc. – and I’ve tried to play with every one I could find. Generally speaking, they’re all very nice-to-have features, but I’ll be diving deeper into each of them toward the time of my iOS 16 review to see if they’re worth the upgrade.

And yes, I’m completely aware that I just questioned the effectiveness of Apple’s advertised features before I told you about an unadvertised feature that could be worth upgrading to iOS 16 for: haptic feedback on the keyboard.

Third-party keyboards have had it for years on iOS, and Android users have enjoyed it since the stone ages, but in iOS 16, Apple is finally letting you enable haptics on its stock keyboard. People, let me just tell you straight-up: this is a game-changer. This has made typing on the iPhone my favorite smartphone typing experience by a long shot. The light feedback you get from hitting a key is incredibly satisfying, and when paired with the “click!” sound effect of the keyboard, it’s *chef’s kiss*.

I’m still exploring everything you can do with iOS 16. For example, I haven’t tried the Visual Look Up trick where you can pull a subject from its background and share it in an app like Messages, all without using a photo editor. I also haven’t paid for things in installments with Apple Pay Later, used any of the new navigation tools in Maps, or used Siri to run a shortcut. Over the summer, expect more updates from iOS 16 Beta World with my latest thoughts.

The bugs

As far as bugs are concerned, there’s been a handful that are kind of annoying. The “Clear All Notifications” button doesn’t work all the time, haptics seem to disappear from the keyboard in certain apps like Messages, and some stock apps like Apple Music crash for almost no reason at all. These are the consequences for running an early beta, so I advise against installing it unless you know what you’re doing and have a secondary device. Being a tech reporter, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and have it installed on my main device. Y’know, for research.

Side note: I also installed iPadOS 16, but because my iPad Pro is from 2018, my experience so far has been pretty sub-par. I’ll update you if I find a feature that isn’t Stage Manager or external display support that’s worth talking about.

Moving on…

Okay, sorry about the lengthy intro. Let’s to some news, shall we?

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