New features to notice in iOS 16.2 (and how to undo them)

iOS 16.2 Released for iPhone With These 12 New Features

Tuesday December 13, 2022 10:24 am PST by Joe Rossignol

iOS 16.2 is now available for the iPhone 8 and newer following two months of beta testing. With last-minute additions like Apple Music Sing and Advanced Data Protection, the software update includes over a dozen new features and changes for the iPhone.

General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Below, we’ve recapped many of the new features available with iOS 16.2, including Apple’s new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets, the ability to hide the wallpaper and notifications on the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display, a new AirDrop setting, SharePlay support for Game Center, Live Activities enhancements, and more.

Apple Music Sing

apple music sing color bg 1

Apple Music Sing is a new karaoke-like feature on the lyrics screen in the Apple Music app that lets you sing along to tens of millions of songs. The feature allows users to lower the volume of the vocals in a song and then take over as the singer.

Apple Music Sing is compatible with devices equipped with an A13 chip or newer, including the iPhone 11 and newer, select iPads, and the latest Apple TV 4K.

Advanced Data Protection

Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature greenblue

iOS 16.2 introduces an optional Advanced Data Protection feature that, when enabled, expands end-to-end encryption to many additional iCloud data categories, including Messages backups, photos, notes, reminders, voice memos, and more.

Advanced Data Protection is currently limited to U.S. users and will start rolling out to the rest of the world in early 2023, according to Apple.

Freeform App

Freeform iPhone iPad Mac

iOS 16.2 includes Apple’s new digital whiteboard app Freeform on the iPhone. The app provides an infinite canvas for you to draw on and insert sticky notes, text boxes, shapes, photos, videos, links, PDFs, and more. The app is also available on the iPad and the Mac, and you can collaborate with others in real time via FaceTime and iMessage.

Freeform is more useful on the iPad given the device supports the Apple Pencil, but you can still use a capacitive stylus on the iPhone.

Two New Lock Screen Widgets

iOS 16 2 Medications Widget

There are two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications on iOS 16.2. With the Sleep widget, you can view your most recent sleep session and sleep stages, while the Medications widget can let you quickly access your medication schedule.

New Always-On Display Options

always on display options

Starting with iOS 16.2, you can hide the wallpaper and notifications in always-on display mode on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This results in the Lock Screen having a solid black, minimal appearance in always-on mode, similar to Android.

The new “Show Wallpaper” and “Show Notifications” toggles are located in the Settings app under Display & Brightness → Always On Display.

Live Activities for Sports Scores via Apple TV App

nba live activities ios 16

iOS 16.2 adds Live Activities support for sports scores via the Apple TV app. The feature allows iPhone users to view live scores of MLB, NBA, and Premier League games at a glance on the Lock Screen, and in the Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro models.

During a Premier League match, for example, the Dynamic Island shows a live-updating scoreboard with the number of goals scored by each club. When long pressed, the Dynamic Island expands to show the time elapsed and play-by-play action. When an iPhone 14 Pro is locked, and on all other iPhone models, the score is shown in a Lock Screen banner.

To use the feature with an iPhone running iOS 16.2, open the TV app and tap on the “Follow” button for a supported game. Apple says the feature is available for NBA and Premier League games for users in the U.S. and Canada, and for MLB games for users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and South Korea.

New AirDrop Setting

AirDrop iOS 16 Feature

iOS 16.2 replaces AirDrop’s previous “Everyone” setting with a limited “Everyone for 10 Minutes” option to cut down on unwanted requests from strangers. AirDrop now automatically reverts to “Contacts Only” after 10 minutes.

New Home App Architecture

homekit showdown

After updating to iOS 16.2 and opening the Home app, an update to the app is available with new underlying architecture. Apple says the new architecture improves the app’s performance, efficiency, and reliability for controlling smart home accessories. This comes after the Home app gained support for Matter accessories in iOS 16.1.

Other New Features

  • SharePlay support in Game Center lets you play multiplayer games with the people you are on a FaceTime call with.
  • iOS 16.2 enables support for 5G networks in India on the iPhone 12 and newer, starting with carriers Airtel and Reliance Jio.
  • The built-in Weather app now features an Apple News section.
  • Improved search in the Messages app allows you to find photos based on their content, like a dog, car, person, or text.

There are a few other changes and optimizations in iOS 16.2, as outlined in the full release notes.


How To Undo iOS 16’s Most Annoying Changes

You can roll back some of the tweaks Apple made in the latest iOS update.

By David Nield, Published December 8, 2022

The iOS 16 update is now firmly established on a large chunk of iPhones, but you might not be completely happy with every tweak and modification that’s been made. The good news is that at least some of the changes can be reversed by delving into the iOS Settings screen, and we’ll cover some of the most important ones here.

How to get rid of the the iOS search bar 

Presumably the new search bar that sits at the bottom of every home screen is designed to make it easier to find whatever it might be that you’re looking for, but there is a case to be made that it distracts from the minimal aesthetic that iOS usually favors. Bear in mind that you can always get to the search box by swiping down with one finger, too.

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With that alternative gesture in mind, you could argue that the new search bar is somewhat redundant. To stop it from appearing, open Settings and then choose Home Screen: Turn off the Show on Home Screen toggle switch underneath the Search heading and you won’t have to see it again.

The rest of the search options can be configured by tapping the Siri & Search entry on the main iOS Settings screen. From here, you’re able to choose which apps and other content show up in the searches you run on your phone, and you can also prevent suggested searches and recent searches from showing up whenever you’re looking for something.

How to undo changes to notifications 

It feels as though every iOS update brings with it a rejigging of the iPhone’s notification system, and iOS 16 is no different: Notifications now appear in stacks at the bottom of the lock screen, for example, which is intended to reduce clutter. Now, it’s not possible to completely reverse this change, but you can partially bring back the old behavior.

From Settings in iOS, tap Notifications, and then choose List (rather than Stack). This way, the notifications will still pile up individually as they did on previous versions of iOS—they’re still coming up from the bottom, and you can’t currently adjust that, but you might find it more palatable with this option selected.

Of course, the lock screen is one of the areas that iOS 16 has focused on the most, with the introduction of widgets and an always-on mode if you’re using the iPhone 14 Pro or the iPhone 14 Pro Max. While it’s not out at the time of writing, iOS 16.2 is expected to bring with it the option to hide notifications from the always-on display, giving you another way to customize the notification experience.

Disable follow-up prompts in Apple Mail

Apple has tried to make the Mail app in iOS 16 a little bit smarter: Like Gmail, Apple Mail will now introduce prompts to chase up sent emails that haven’t had a response (“Follow-up”) as well as giving you the option to get reminded about a message that you’ve read but haven’t sent a reply to (“Remind me”).

While these sort of innovations can make managing your email pile easier, they can also come across as being too interfering. Remind me is opt-in on an individual basis for every email you open, whereas Follow-up is on by default, and uses some kind of algorithm to figure out which emails you’re still waiting on a reply to.

You can’t do much with Remind me, unfortunately, but that’s the less intrusive of the two new features in iOS 16. You can turn off Follow-up to stop sent emails resurfacing after a few days: Open up Settings in iOS, then choose Mail, then turn off the Follow-Up Suggestions toggle switch.

Turn off featured content

This is different in that we’re not undoing something introduced in iOS 16—we’re using iOS 16 to reverse an existing feature. Go to Settings, choose Photos, and turn off the Show Featured Content toggle switch: Your iPhone will no longer automatically pick out your best snaps for the For You tab in Photos and the Photos home screen widget.

Previously, you needed to go and select individual pictures and specifically remove them from being featured. This is still an option, but the new toggle switch makes more sense, and gives you more control over which images are randomly popping up on your device when you don’t necessarily want to see them.

iOS 16 also protects your hidden and recently deleted photo albums with a passcode, Touch ID or Face ID. We’d say this is one of the better changes in the latest update, but it is possible to roll it back if you’d rather have quicker access to these albums—you can toggle the option from the Photos page in Settings.

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