Peter Griffin, Editor. 07 June 2022, 12:56 pm
Smartphone maker Apple today announced a new MacBook Air and a buy now, pay later scheme for its US customers.
But for many Apple fans, the biggest news relates to improved personalisation options for the iPhone’s lock screen that represent the most substantial changes so far to the screen hundreds of millions of users see before they unlock their phone, using a PIN, Touch ID or Face ID.
That screen real estate, in both the Apple and Android camps, can be glanced at hundreds of times a day by a phone user, to check the time and weather, look at notifications or play and shuffle music tracks. Typically the lock screen has been light on personalised information by design – it can be read by anyone who picks up the phone and activates the screen.
But Apple, in particular, has been slow to radically change the lock screen interface for the iPhone, with security a key factor in its conservative approach. With iOS 16, unveiled today and to be released in a few months’ time, the lock screen becomes much more customisable with widgets – small icons on the home screen that can be tapped to access tools such as the weather app.
New personalisation options in iOS 16
Apple’s senior vice president of engineering, Craig Federighi, described the change as the “biggest update ever to lock screen, completely reimagining how it works”.
Users will finally be able to adjust the time and date font and colour and shuffle through background photos during the day without having to unlock the phone to change it. The focus feature, which lets an iPhone user set how to filter notifications, will also now be available on the lock screen, so filtering can be quickly updated based on what you are doing.
Notifications will be minimised to the bottom of the screen to avoid interfering with the wallpaper artwork selected for the lock screen. You will also be able to swipe through multiple lock screens on the iPhone, giving you the option to customise different lock screens for different situations.
For instance, an “in the office” lock screen might display upcoming calendar events and incoming email messages. An “out of office” lock screen could hide message notifications entirely and just present a relaxing photo and the weekend weather forecast.
When it comes to widgets on the lock screen, Apple said that developers “can now seamlessly share the same code between their widgets on the lock screen and complications on Apple Watch, which are based on the same new WidgetKit API”. That will open up access for different types of information to feature on the lock screen, though presumably limiting the amount of information to maintain security and privacy.
The new lock screen features will work with older iPhones but have been designed to work with the new iPhone 14, which will likely be ready for the market in September. Rumours suggest the iPhone 14 will have an always-on screen, which would make the lock screen upgrades all the more relevant.
CarPlay as your dashboard
Among a host of other software updates for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch as well as the new macOS Venture, Apple signalled it wants more of a presence in your car. It has expanded its CarPlay in-car navigation and entertainment software to act as an alternative dashboard for cars that have compatibility with it.
What the CarPlay dashboard will look like
It means that an Apple user interface could deliver trip information, weather updates, fuel and battery levels – the sort of things car manufacturers have typically had a monopoly on. Apple said the customisation relies on deep integration with the car’s instrument display and computer. It didn’t announce any partnerships with carmakers for the new CarPlay features but said compatible models will be revealed later this year.
Apple is known to have been gradually chipping away on its own electric car prototype and the CarPlay interface gives a hint of what the dashboard of it may look like – if Apple ever makes it into production with its own vehicle.
See all the latest product updates announced at Apple’s WWDC conference here.