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iOS 16 release date rumors, supported iPhones and 5 features we want to see

iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro running iOS 15 (Image credit: TechRadar)

After seeing the releases of iOS 15 and the subsequent iPhone 13 series, we’re in the midst of .1 updates that are slowly refining features we’ve been seeing since June, back at WWDC.

However, that doesn’t stop us from thinking of what could be in the next version of iOS that is widely expected to be called iOS 16.

Every iOS release has brought a major feature to the table, whether that’s widgets or dark mode. But iOS could still benefit from some new refinements to better manage how you use your iPhone every day.

We’ve combed through our iPhones to roundup five features we’d like to see arrive in iOS 16 next year, no matter how major or minor these may be. But first, we’ll run you through when we expect it to land and which iPhones will be supported.

iOS 16 release date rumors

Apple has followed a traditional schedule of announcing the latest iOS update in June at WWDC, followed by a release around September.

With iOS 15.2 currently in testing, Apple has been focusing on rolling out significant features across more .1 updates. In previous years, we've seen the trackpad appear on iOS 13.4, alongside ProRes in iOS 15.1 in October of this year.

It wouldn't be a stretch to expect an iOS 15.7 by the time we see iOS 16 with more significant features.

iOS 16 supported iPhones

Apple tries to support a variety of iPhone models in every new iOS release. iOS 15 supports iPhone 6S at a minimum, which was released in 2015.

It wouldn't be a stretch to expect iOS 16 to support the iPhone 7 series at a minimum, but with some features held back, mainly due to the hardware limitations of the camera, or the chip inside certain iPhone models.

Every iOS release comes with a major feature, but also a bunch of minor improvements across the board. If you still have an iPhone 8 for instance, you may reap the benefits of some of the small features in iOS 16 when it arrives. But you will most likely miss out on the big feature that Apple will showcase.

Redesigned Camera app

iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone camera has seen huge improvements in recent years, with more lenses being added and features such as Night Mode and Cinematic Mode being introduced.

However, this has meant that the camera app has begun to feel bloated. Accessing forced flash or exposure settings requires a few more swipes than we’d like, alongside hidden gestures that don’t feel needed.

With the impending release of iOS 15.2, we’re also about to see a new macro button appear, which will help you to more accurately set up those close-up shots when needed. This is just for the iPhone 13 series, though.

Starting afresh with the camera app could help new users take photos in a whole new way, alongside giving existing users a fresh way of taking photos and videos.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Apple has more big plans for the cameras in future iPhone models, which will also mean new features that we’ll be switching on and off when required. Let’s see an app that’s redesigned for what came before, and lays the groundwork for what’s coming next.

QuickNote to iPhone

macOS Monterey Notes and Quick Note

(Image credit: Apple)

This is a feature that appears in iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey, where you can drag your finger from the bottom-right corner, and you can quickly type in some notes, no matter where you are on your device.

There are many gestures you can do on an iPhone, so there’s no harm in adding one more. Dragging from the bottom right corner would display a note that you could quickly type in, and save for a later date.

With your thumb being your primary point of interaction with your smartphone, it's an easy win that can really help with quickly jotting something down. It will also save the strain of your thumb instead of reaching for the Control Center on the top right, and selecting the Notes icon.

Home Automation widgets

Using the Home app on an iPhone 13 Pro in iOS 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Since widgets were given a makeover in iOS 14, alongside the ability to place them anywhere on the home screen, some other apps have not been forthcoming with their own widgets to help reduce some steps. One blatant example is the Home app.

You may have a selection of smart lights in your home where you use the app to help manage these. But if you want to quickly switch on a light, you may experience a delay if you ask Siri, or if the app isn’t responding, which has happened often in our experience.

Having a widget on your home screen for your smart lights could really help reduce the steps in quickly switching the bedroom lamp on, instead of having to find the Home app.

It’s a little strange that the widget hasn’t appeared as yet, but we’re hoping it arrives, not only to iOS 16, but future versions of macOS and iPadOS as well.

Air apps

Apple AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Apple )

If you own one of the AirPods peripherals, or an AirTag, you may find it very cumbersome to try and manage each of these. AirPods settings are only accessible through Bluetooth from within the Settings app, while AirTags settings are accessible through the Find My app.

Being able to manage these through a centralized ‘AirThings’ app could relieve a lot of confusion as to what you own from Apple.

Third-party vendors such as Sony bring out certain apps that can help you manage headphones and more to better manage the features that these bring. Being able to do the same, without having to go to Bluetooth within the Settings app, could bring a lot of simplicity to managing your devices.

Better theme options

Three iPhones running iOS 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Back in 2019, we saw an onslaught of themes thanks to a few new features that the Shortcuts app provided in iOS 13.

With Shortcuts, you can use the app to create launch commands for other apps, and place an icon of your choice on the home screen for it. This has resulted in many themes being made available for iPhone users.

YouTuber Marques Brownlee created a short guide to create your own icons with Shortcuts.

But iOS 16 could go further. A new category in the App Store could enable themes to be downloaded and then selected within the Settings app. You could also choose different colors and sounds for notifications and set them as a separate theme, which could also be enabled with Automations in the Shortcuts app.

Third-party developers could perhaps make their own sounds and themes available as well. While there would be restrictions on changing other app icons, it could further expand the individuality that users want from their devices.

Daryl Baxter

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app or one that's about to launch, drop him a line.