The unveiling of iOS 16, Apple’s new iPhone operating system for 2022, is just a week away, and we’re starting to get a clear idea of what to expect.
The widely respected leaker Mark Gurman, in his regular newsletter for Bloomberg, has predicted that the iOS 16 update will include a comprehensive revamp of the iPhone lock screen, the interface that appears when the device lights up but hasn’t yet been unlocked. At present this shows just the date and time, quick-access buttons for the flashlight and camera and (if relevant) now-playing media controls. But Gurman expects “major enhancements for the lock screen, including wallpapers that have widget-like capabilities.”
Widgets are the interactive blocks that sit in the Today View or (ever since the launch of iOS 14) the iPhone’s home screens and provide instant access to basic app or system functionality. The Batteries widget shows the power levels of connected devices, for example, while the Find My widget shows the location of selected contacts or items. Gurman doesn’t specify how a wallpaper would have this sort of functionality, but however it looks, it will be simple: the bare details of the day’s engagements in Calendar, perhaps, or minimal information about the weather.
Partly this is for reasons of visual economy–it’s important not to overwhelm the user with extraneous information unless they specifically seek it out–but partly it’s because Gurman also expects this revamped lock screen to offer always-on functionality. This means that, like the screen of recent models of the Apple Watch, it won’t need to be raised or tapped in order to show a basic interface: the bare minimum of info will be shown on the screen all the time.
To ensure this doesn’t massacre battery life, Gurman predicts that the always-on version of the lock screen will have a “significantly” lowered refresh rate; we assume it will also, like on the Apple Watch, be dimmed and aesthetically simplified, with some visual elements removed and others changed from animated to static.
All of this is appealing–the always-on screen is a perpetual entry on iPhone owners’ wish lists, and was expected to appear last year–but don’t get too excited just yet. Based on Gurman’s predictions, it won’t be available as a retrospective upgrade like most iOS features, and won’t even work on all of this year’s new iPhones; it will work on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max only, he reckons. It will be, in other words, yet another point of upsell differentiation between the Pro models and the boring iPhone 14.
Has Gurman got this prediction right? Quite possibly, but don’t bet your house on it. As widely read and respected as the leaker has become, he still gets some things wrong: AppleTrack currently assigns him a strong rather than flawless accuracy rating of 86.5%. And in this case you’ll note that he covers himself with the words “if the feature ends up making the cut” with regard to the always-on lock screen.
At any rate, we’ll find out exactly what Apple has in store for the iPhone at the WWDC 2022 keynote on June 6. Macworld will be covering all the announcements as they happen, so join us here for a day of fun and expert analysis.