That’s why the new iOS 16 lock screens are important

There’s a tendency among the highly tech-savvy (you know, us nerds) to approach new features with a jaded, pre-planned vibe. This is especially true when Apple announces new iPhone features with much fanfare and self-adulation. The Android fans will then point out that this groundbreaking achievement existed on a Nexus phone seven years ago and the first three versions of it sucked but are great now.

This setting could certainly be applied to one of iOS 16’s centerpieces: new lock screens. At a high level, this update adds more customizability to the lock screen, with more background options and the ability to add widgets. Not groundbreaking considering that Android 12 lets you easily customize your entire interface to match your wallpaper, right down to app icon colors. But since I’ve been using the developer beta for the past few weeks, the new lock screen has impressed me more than I imagined. It’s a simple update, but one that’s likely to be noticed and embraced by iPhone users – nerds or otherwise.

There’s just so much more you can do with your lock screen in iOS 16. You used to be able to change your wallpaper and…actually, that was it. That’s about all you could do. There are more background types in iOS 16 – like emoji grids and real-time weather animations – along with different clock fonts and customizable font colors. You can add widgets to get more information at a glance, e.g. B. when your next meeting starts or how likely it is to rain that day (important information here in Seattle).

Fill your wallpaper with your favorite emoji.

Animated Weather Wallpaper: When you can’t look out the window.

Apple has made some subtle changes to the lock screen so your wallpaper takes center stage. Like the Portraits watch face introduced in WatchOS 8, the watch can partially float in certain images Behind a human or animal subject. It’s a subtle but significant change – nothing spoils a cute photo lock screen for kids like having the time stamped right in the middle of their forehead. Notifications have also been moved to give photos more breathing room. Instead of piling up in the middle of the screen and covering up your wallpaper, they now appear at the bottom of the screen.

You can now have multiple lock screens — and you don’t have to dive into a settings menu to change them. It seems like a simple thing, but it fundamentally changes how you think about your lock screen. Being able to have more than one takes away the pressure of picking a single wallpaper or photo that you see in all sorts of situations at any time of the day. You can have a lock screen for the weekend, for a certain mood, for a holiday, or for any moment. It’s easy to switch between your collection of lock screens when the mood strikes, but if you associate lock screens with focus modes, they’ll switch automatically when that focus mode kicks in.

Case in point: sometimes a pink wallpaper with a grid of puking emojis is the best way to self-soothe when, I dunno, the Supreme Court decides to strip you of your bodily autonomy. It didn’t restore any of my basic rights, but every time I looked at it, I felt better for half a second. And once I squeezed all the miles I could get out of that lock screen, it was easy to go back to one of my usual “Mount Rainier framed by trees” photos that people in the Northwest are required by law to take.

Sometimes the puke emoji is the right emoji.

License, registration and Mount Rainier photo, please.

The most interesting thing about new lock screens is the very un-Apple-ness of it all. This is a company that likes to maintain tight control over the appearance of their products; You may be the homeowner of your iPhone, but Apple is the HOA and has a very strict ship. Back in the day, the best thing you could do to make your apartment a little more homely was to hang a wreath on the door. With iOS 16, festive decorations are in season.

Of course, Apple won’t let you go too far—there won’t be any pink flamingo lawn ornaments This Neighborhood. You’re limited to eight font options, and all have a particularly on-trend look — not a Comic Sans impersonation in sight. There’s also very little space for widgets – the maximum you can cram into the “shelf” under the clock is four. It keeps things simple for the person using the phone, but also retains a bit of control over how cluttered your lock screen can look.

Even within Apple’s confines, I’ve found plenty of material to play with. Some of the automatically generated photo suggestions worked really well – it seems to prefer landscapes and pictures of people or pets, although it overestimates how much I want to look at my (very rude) cat throughout the day. They’re not all winners, but a few hiking photos I forgot made for surprisingly good wallpapers. I’ve spent longer than I’d like to admit trying to put together a wallpaper with just the right combination of fun emojis, or finding the right accent color for a photo of said cat staring down the couch from above.

There is also some visibility of the lock screen that increases its importance. It’s the part of the device’s UI that while I’m checking the time or using Face ID, someone else is likely to catch a glimpse. Putting up a new custom wallpaper is a bit like putting on a fancy new pair of socks: it’s partly for my own amusement, but there’s also a chance someone else will see it and be suitably impressed/amused/stunned by my choices . It’s part function, part fashion, and part fun. Even the most jaded of us can appreciate this combination.

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