iOS 16’s lock screen update makes the iPhone more like a smartwatch

Think about the number of times you check your iPhone every day. Now think back to the first thing you saw when you picked it up: the lock screen. The current version of the iPhone’s main lock screen only shows the time, displays notifications, and provides quick access to the camera and flashlight.

But that will change in iOS 16, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. The upcoming iPhone update, which could arrive this fall alongside the rumored iPhone 14, will introduce new widgets on the lock screen along with other personalization options.

To put it bluntly, the current lock screen version feels outdated. Wearing the Apple Watch regularly over the past few years has made me realize how useful it is to look down at my wrist for information about the weather, my next appointment, and activity goals. There’s no reason my iPhone’s lock screen shouldn’t be equally useful. In fact, I’m surprised it took Apple so long to apply what it learned from the Apple Watch to the iPhone.

Having more information on the lock screen is both a necessity and a necessity. Smartphones have gradually become the remote controls for many of the other gadgets in our lives, such as smartwatches, wireless earbuds, and connected home gadgets. A lock screen can be the key to ensuring that managing these gadgets remains simple and convenient.

iOS 16’s new lock screen is a much-needed update
When iOS 16 launches this fall, the lock screen will support Apple Watch-like widgets that display information at a glance. Weather, activity progress, battery level, alarms, your current workout and sports performance are all examples of data points you can view without unlocking your phone.

Not only will the lock screen usability be improved in iOS 16; your background photos will also get a major upgrade. The new lock screen will be able to isolate subjects in the foreground and apply an out-of-focus effect to the background similar to portrait mode photos. You can give your lock screen photo a magazine cover-like aesthetic, overlay the date and time behind the image theme, and customize elements like colors and fonts.

But it’s really the widget I’m most looking forward to in iOS 16. To be clear, you can already access widgets from your iPhone’s lock screen. But you have to swipe right to see them. The new widgets in iOS 16 will live directly on the home screen and look more like Apple Watch icons.

Having more information at a glance makes it easier for me to reduce screen time. The more details I see without unlocking my phone, the less likely I’ll get lost in my inbox, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. That’s why I want Apple to bring an always-on display to the iPhone. We didn’t see this at WWDC, but the new widget-friendly lock screen seems like a worthy replacement.

The role of the lock screen on the iPhone
As the iPhone and Apple Watch have grown, it has become increasingly important to access certain features and apps directly from the lock screen. Apple Wallet is a good example. The ability to display boarding passes and event tickets on the lock screen is a big reason why Apple Wallet is so convenient. Apple Wallet is also an important part of iOS 16 and Apple’s ambition to replace physical wallets.

As the iPhone’s UWB technology becomes more prominent, we may see more lock screen features. Ultra Wideband (UWB) is a wireless standard that makes it easier and more accurate for iPhone to detect nearby compatible products. That’s why your iPhone can guide you to a lost AirTag and provide turn-by-turn directions, and the technology promises to make your phone better as a digital car key.

Many iPhone users are probably most excited about the new photo effects and customization options on the lock screen right now. But with iOS 16 and later, Apple’s lock screen makeover may be more important than you think.

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