iOS 16 is finally here, and after a few weeks of poking around in Apple’s best iPhone operating system, we’ve found plenty of features beyond the headlines Apple revealed.
Yes, the lock screen overhaul is fantastic, as are the widgets you can add to it, and deeper integration of focus modes is also great. But there’s so much more that iOS 16 has to offer just below the surface.
Here are some of our favorite “secret” iOS 16 features you might have missed.
Extract motifs from the images
If you’ve spent time scrolling through your photo library in iOS 16, you may have accidentally started dragging parts of an image out from the background.
This is thanks to a new feature in iOS 16 that lets you drag subjects from photos to move them to different apps. In our example, our furry, faithful companion can be extracted from the image.
There are even apps that can turn these images into stickers that can be used in iMessage.
Change the notification layout on the lock screen
Much has been made of the new lock screen and the way notifications now come in from the bottom of the screen, but there are more options than you might have seen.
You can have all your notifications above the screen, or push them down so that only the most recent ones are visible. You can even hide them all, leaving just a small number at the bottom of the screen. To do so, simply drag your notifications to the bottom of the screen.
While we’re on the subject of notifications, iOS 15 automatically hid them when players used SharePlay, but iOS 16 allows users to allow them to appear if they wish.
CAPTCHAs are a technology that helps filter out bot attempts to access websites, but when you add up all the time you’ve spent proving you’re human, you might start wishing you could skip the hassle .
iOS 16 allows users to bypass CAPTCHAs by essentially requesting a security token on their behalf. Go to Settings, then your iCloud account and Password & Security. You will find the option to activate automatic confirmation at the bottom.
Tired of standard keyboard clicks, or looking for a quieter form of feedback? The Haptic Keyboard setting in iOS 16 is ideal for providing feedback as you type using your device’s haptics.
To turn it on, open Settings, select Sound & Audio, then Keyboard Feedback. Here you can turn on Haptic, Sound or both using the switches.
Clean up your image duplicates
If you’re anything like us, your iPhone is the camera you use more than any other. While organizing your photo library isn’t the most fun task, there is a way to instantly identify duplicates and merge them into a single image.
To find it, open Photos and tap Albums at the bottom. Scroll all the way to the Tools section at the bottom and tap on Duplicates. Here, you’ll be presented with all your duplicates, and you can merge them into a single image for each, saving space on your device or iCloud account.
Use Face ID in landscape
This is a small touch that you may not have noticed yet, but it is certainly a welcome one. Face ID has been around since the iPhone X, but it’s always worked in portrait mode – meaning you often have to turn the phone over.
Borrowing a trick from newer iPads, you’ll now be able to unlock your phone using your phone in landscape orientation as well.
Use direct text in a video
Live Text is a great way to extract key data from photos you’ve taken yourself or found online. Whether it’s an email address, phone number or location, it’s an excellent tool that saves you from having to write things down in a separate app.
iOS 16 brings the functionality to video, although there is a caveat – it can only work with still images. Still, if you’re a student studying coding and need to copy a whole bunch of complex input, hitting pause and being able to extract what you need is a game changer.
Customized spatial sound
Apple has been pushing Spatial Audio as part of its AirPods and Beats lineup for years, but this year it changed things up with the addition of what it calls “Personalized Spatial Audio.” The idea is that it tailors Spatial Audio positioning to the shape of your ear, which sounds a lot like science fiction on paper – but it really works.
If you have any Apple earphones that support Spatial Audio, connect them to your iPhone and open Settings. Tap Bluetooth and then tap the “i” icon next to the earphones. Then go to an option for Personalized Spatial Audio.
Your phone will need to scan your ear shape using the camera (it works a lot like the initial Face ID setup process), and then you’ll have your own custom Spatial Audio profile built in seconds.
Full screen audio player
If you’ve been wondering how to make your chosen sound take over your lock screen, simply tap on the album cover. Doing so will maximize it, and match the lock screen colors to what you’re listening to. Tap it again to minimize it.
It’s a nice feature that can add even more diversity to your lock screen, but it’s also easy to miss.
Add the battery percentage indicator
iPhone users were just getting used to having the battery percentage indicator present on the status bar when Apple unceremoniously removed it.
Thankfully, it’s back with iOS 16, but not on all phones — some users have reported that it’s not there on the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 13 mini, or iPhone XR.
If you have a Face ID iPhone that isn’t one of these models, you can go into the Settings app, tap Battery, then check the Battery Percentage option.
So there you have it, a handy bunch of secret iOS 16 features that will make using your iPhone a dream, enjoy!