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I installed the iOS 16 beta so you don't have to
My thoughts on WWDC 2022, my early experience using iOS 16, and other news that broke this week.
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 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 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.
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.
Okay, sorry about the lengthy intro. Let’s to some news, shall we?
It wasn’t all WWDC22 news this week. Here’s some of the topics I found most interesting.
The EU is forcing phone manufacturers to switch to USB-C by 2024 (*cough* Apple *cough*): Lawmakers in the European Union agreed this week on new proposals that would force virtually every company who makes gadgets to switch their charging ports to USB-C by late 2024. That way, the industry gets streamlined and we all use the same charger for everything while also cutting down on e-waste. If you’re not paying attention, this would also mean Apple would have to switch the iPhone to USB-C, something users have been asking for for years. The proposals aren’t law yet, but if it all goes as planned, it will be come this September, so Apple would have a little over two years to make the switch. Rumor has it that’s inevitable, but you never know given Apple’s reluctancy to ditch Lightning over the past few years. (The Verge / The Washington Post)
Dell redesigned the XPS 13 2-in-1 to compete with the Surface Pro 8: Dell is taking its first real shot at Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 with its new XPS 13 2-in-1, which is now a tablet instead of a 360-degree laptop. It’s got high-end specs to boot like 12th-gen Intel chips and 5G, and there’s a couple of Thunderbolt 4 ports as well as front and back cameras. The keyboard and stylus will be sold separately (of course), and there’s currently no word on when it’ll ship or how much it’ll cost, but it’s by far one of the most interesting devices Dell has announced recently. (Matridox)
The Nothing Phone (1) is coming July 12th: Nothing, the new company founded by ex-OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has confirmed that its first phone will be unveiled during an event on July 12th. I’m highlighting them because it’s always exciting when a new company enters the smartphone market, and it’s especially notable when it’s coming from a familiar member of the industry. As far as what to expect from the phone, all we know is it’ll have wireless charging, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a transparent back with a recycled aluminum mid-frame, and no chin. It’ll run on Nothing OS, Nothing’s custom skin atop Android, and integrate with other products Nothing ships, including its Ear (1) earbuds. (Matridox)
I just got the Marshall Willen in the mail to review. It’s a portable Bluetooth 5.1 speaker with a two-inch full range driver and two passive radiators, IP67 certification for durability, “15+ hours” of battery life, a USB-C port for charging, and a pretty kick-ass design with the class bronze Marshall logo embossed on the front.
When I set up the speaker, I guess my expectations were kind of low for how good it would sound, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out it’s actually really good. There’s a ton of low-end on this speaker that doesn’t overpower mids or highs, and all the music I’ve tried so far has sounded great.
It’s got this rubber strap on its back that lets you attach it to different things, so I tried strapping it to the handle bar on my bicycle yesterday. I was disappointed to find that literally every bump I hit on the roads of Ocean City, New Jersey made it spin downwards and face away from me (thanks a lot, slippery rubber). I wound up attaching the strap to a zipper loop on my backpack and solved the problem, but I thought it’d be worth pointing out if you get the same idea as I did when you see the strap for the first time.
Anyway, I’ll be reviewing this speaker for another week or two to lock down my thoughts, and I’ll have a full piece on Matridox when I do.
“Which iPhones support iOS 16?”
Apple is supporting every iPhone from the iPhone 8 and up. This means that the iPhone 7, 6s, and first-generation SE are dying with the release of iOS 16, so you’ll want to upgrade sooner than later. (Full disclosure: I don’t recommend doing so until this fall when the new iPhones are released and you get a much better value for your money.)
“I am so confused why the 13-inch Macbook Pro exists. Why give it M2 when the air already has it and has a better design? Do you have any idea?”
Absolutely not! Other than the fact Apple might think people want a “low-cost” MacBook Pro to tout around, I see no reason why this laptop should exist at all. It has a worse design than the cheaper 13.6-inch MacBook Air, it has fewer ports, there’s a Touch Bar (boo!), and it costs more money. It’s a really bizarre product in Apple’s otherwise excellent lineup of MacBooks, and I don’t think it’s worth buying.
“Is the Series 3 really not getting WatchOS 9?”
Yep, that’s right. After supporting it for nearly five years, Apple is finally putting the Apple Watch Series 3 out to pasture with its outdated design, slow performance, and annoyingly little storage space (which at times isn’t even enough to update watchOS in the first place). Come this fall, when watchOS 9 comes out, the Series 3 won’t get it, so anyone who wants the latest software for their Apple Watch will need to go buy a new one. I’d like to mention that I am one of these people, as seen in the image below.
Remember, you can always reply to this email with your questions for next week’s Q&A as well as hit me up on Twitter @LegendaryScoop!