iOS 16: Everything We Know about the Next Update

When is the next iOS update? Historically, Apple announces a new iOS each year at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, releases a beta version immediately after, and then releases the full version in the fall. We have no real reason to expect Apple to break this pattern this year and can also guess that the new OS will be called iOS 16. What else do we know about the next iOS update? Let's go over what we can expect, including which iPhones will be compatible with iOS 16 and what cool features may be coming our way.

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iOS 16 Release Date

Apple typically announces its new iPhone operating system at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early summer. After WWDC, Apple usually releases beta versions of the new iOS, iPadOS and MacOS for users to try out and report bugs. Then, the full iOS update typically launches sometime in September. We have no reason to believe we'll see anything significantly different this year, so we're penciling in an early fall release.

How Long Will iPhone 6s Be Supported?

One of the most prevalent rumors thus far is that iOS 16 will not support the iPhone 6s. According to a leak given to the French site iPhoneSoft, the new iOS will not be compatible with iPhones that use the old A9 chip, which means the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and the 2016 SE won't be able to download the new software. For some, this might indicate the end of an iPhone's lifespan, but old iPhones do technically still function on an outdated OS. Many apps might not work well or at all anymore, and it could leave you vulnerable to security breaches, though, so if you still have one of the old models, you might want this to be the year you upgrade.

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Our Team’s Wish List

While the iPhone Life team eagerly awaits the new OS, we can’t help but let our imaginations run the show. Here are the features our staff hopes to see in iOS 16:

“I still want individual pet faces to be recognized. I heard that would happen with iOS 15 and it didn’t!”
Rheanne Taylor, Video Production Manager

“I’d like to be able to share AirTags with family members via Find My. Ours are all attached to shared stuff like remotes, and it’s a pain to figure out who set up which AirTag.”
Olena Kagui, Feature Writer

“Sometimes I accidentally open a text message at a time when I can’t respond. I’d love the ability to mark a text message as unread, so next time when I open the Messages app I have a reminder to get back to the person who texted.”
Ashleigh Page, Associate Editor

“I want more AirTag safety features so they can’t be used for stalking. If you get a notification that an AirTag is in the vicinity, I think it should come with more info so you can easily find the AirTag.”
Leanne Hays, Feature Writer

Wish List from Our Readers

“I’d like real family sharing of the whole Photos library, so photos taken on any and all iPhones go into the same iCloud Photo Library.”
Gerry H.

“I want to see more customizable route options on Apple Maps. For example, if I go for a walk, I might want to take a loop and go back a different way than I came. The options of alternate routes are really limited right now.”
Linda R.

“More reactions options in iMessage. Right now I prefer to use Facebook Messenger because you can choose from the whole emoji keyboard. It has other better options too, like being able to create polls.”
Haley S.

“I’d like to see the Health app more integrated with other apps in iOS 16.”
Benjamin A.

“I’m hoping for an app to manage AirPod settings. Right now it’s only accessible through Bluetooth in the Settings app. It would be nice to be able to have one centralized location to see what my battery percentage is for both the headphones and the case, and also quickly switch between sound modes.”
Joella T.

“I’d love to see keyboards in different colors—from Apple themselves and not an add-on app. I think it’s time Apple came up with this option. You already have day (white) and night (black) options. Create a few more color options as well!”
Angel D.

iOS 16 Features

Crash Detection

Similar to the Apple Watch's Fall Detection feature, we may see a Crash Detection feature in iOS 16, according to The Wall Street Journal, that will auto-dial 911 if you're in a car accident. This isn't groundbreaking technology by any means; Google's Pixel offers something similar in its Personal Safety app and many modern cars have some sort of crash detection already built-in and connected to their service. Still, the more safety features the better, in my opinion, and as someone who drives a car from the early 2010s, I wouldn't mind knowing my iPhone has my back.

Enhanced AR/VR Capabilities

There has been talk of a VR headset from Apple for some time now. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated last year that we might see a headset in 2022. If this is true, we might see expanded VR and AR capabilities in iOS 16, preparing for the launch of this new product.

Notifications Update

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said in his Power On newsletter that among the updates he's expecting to see in iOS 16, we'll likely see some for Notifications. He didn't elaborate further, but Notifications, while a bit dry in theory, are a huge part of the iOS user experience, so continual improvements are always welcome.

More Health App Features

Gurman also predicted changes to the Health app, notably saying there had been talks of an "Instacart-like service that integrates with nutrition data in the Health app." However, due to the complicated nature and predicted low returns, this project might already have been scrapped. Gurman remained vague on other possible health app updates, but seemed convinced we'd see some.

Emergency Satellite Features

Another safety feature we might see with iOS 16 is emergency satellite communication, meaning if an emergency happens somewhere without cell coverage, you can still make emergency calls or send emergency messages using satellites instead.

Quick Notes for iPhone

Quick Notes is a feature available in MacOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 that allows you to type notes quickly by dragging your finger or stylus up from the bottom right-hand corner of the screen on the iPad and clicking the bottom right corner of the screen on a Mac. This opens a new note in the Notes app without you having to go manually find it. Now we're getting more into the wish list territory of the iOS 16 rumors but it seems timely for the iPhone to offer this function as well.

Interactive Widgets

We've been enjoying widgets on our iPhones for over a year now, and while they can be fun and useful, so far we can't actually do anything with them, like skip a song or take a picture. While this idea is mostly just more wishful thinking at the moment, considering the effort Apple has put into widgets over the past couple of years, I wouldn't be surprised to see their capabilities expand in the new OS.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both

Amy Spitzfaden-Both is the Managing Editor for iPhone Life magazine and an award-winning novelist, with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She specializes in Apple news and rumors, health and fitness tech, and parenting in the digital age. She graduated from MIU with a BA in Literature and Writing.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.