We’re apparently getting even closer to a public beta release of Apple’s much-hyped iOS 16 as developers received a third beta update this week.
And many experts say they continue to be impressed with what they’re seeing so far. For example, users will soon get the chance to edit a message after it’s sent or unsend a message. Also, users will get an updated lock screen and other key software updates Apple announced during its Worldwide Developers Conference last month.
“They’ll really come into their own when, if the rumors are accurate, the iPhone 14 Pro models get an always-on display,” said noted UK-based tech blogger and developer Oliver Haslam. “But even on current hardware, being able to see some information without fully unlocking is a bigger deal than it might seem at first blush.”
What is Lockdown Mode?
And On Wednesday, Apple revealed a new previously unannounced feature called Lockdown Mode for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users who worry they might be subjected to hacking attempts and spyware attacks. Apple calls the feature, to be released soon, “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security.”
What phones will have iOS 16?
That new feature comes as speculation grows that the public beta release of iOS 16 could come as soon as next week. Currently, the software is only available to registered developer beta testers. The official release of iOS 16 will be this fall and likely will coincide with the arrival of new iPhones usually unveiled around September.
The feature will be available on iPhone 8 models, iPhone XR, and newer models released after 2017. Unfortunately, this also means that the very reliable, but older iPhone 6 and 7 models cannot support iOS 16.
However, for the cost-conscious, the iPhone 8 is a very affordable model, said Lucas Freeman, the director of support at Swappa, an online marketplace selling used and refurbished mobile devices.
“The iPhone 8 and XR are still strong devices several years after their release,” said Freeman, adding that the iPhone 8 has an average price of $175 on Swappa. “iOS 16 will work great on those models.”
Keeping your iPhone on Lockdown Mode
Lockdown Mode also provides protections from blocking attachments, link previews in certain messages, vulnerable web browsing technologies, and incoming FaceTime calls from unknown numbers.
In a statement, Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, said “Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks.”
In addition to Lockdown Mode, the tech giant also announced a $10 million grant and an up to $2 million bug bounty through the Apple Security Bounty program for any researchers that can manage to break through the new feature.
Lockdown Mode is among several included in iOS 16 that gives consumers what they may have wanted for a long time and are finally getting a good example of Apple at its best, Haslam said.
“It’s a feature a vast majority of people will never use. Most won’t even know it exists,” said Haslam about Lockdown Mode. “But those who do need it, journalists in war zones, people likely to be on the receiving end of spyware attacks for the information they hold or the conversations they could have, they’ll benefit from being able to set their devices up to be hardened in a way a normal one wouldn’t be.”
How do users enable Lockdown Mode?
For those who have iOS 16 in beta mode, here’s what you can do:
Launch “Settings” on your Apple device; Then tap “Privacy & Security.” Next, scroll down to the bottom and tap Lockdown Mode to turn the feature on. Read the related information about Lockdown Mode and then scroll down to tap “Turn On Lockdown Mode.”
From there, “Tap Turn On and Restart” to confirm and enable, or otherwise tap “Cancel” to not enable the feature.
Is iOS 16 Apple’s best operating system to date?
Haslam said each iOS update can be considered the best yet due to the new features and Apple addressing some long-standing pain points. He points to an improved Lock Screen and the new Focus Mode feature as examples.
Haslam also has a personal interest in the Photo Library feature as something users like him have wanted for about 15 years. He’s excited about the possibility of him and his wife sharing a library of family photos.
“If it works and it can be trusted, it’ll change how a lot of people manage photos,” he said.
When asked if he thinks iOS 16 is the tech giant’s best operating system to date, Haslam said each version has been better than the previous version – with some slight exceptions.
“iOS 16 is no different, but this one feels like Apple took a look at a giant wishlist and went down checking things off,” Haslam said. “That said, it’s always difficult to grade a new update when we’re two betas deep.”
“We’re still in the early days. Plenty can change, entire features can disappear, new ones can be added.”
Aaron Painter, the CEO at Nametag, an ID-based authentication company located in Seattle, agrees. Painter, who has been using a beta version of iOS 16, has been impressed with the Passkeys feature, which offers a new way to sign in to services or websites simply by using your iPhone to log in with Touch ID or Face ID.
Painter, a former longtime Microsoft executive, said Apple’s Passkeys feature takes logging in to “the next level far more easily and quickly.”
Haslam said the company is at a stage where it can take more chances to improve its products.
“You could say that iOS is now mature enough that Apple can start adding a few bells and whistles while dealing with pain points from years past,” he said.