Get ready for an update iOS 16. iOS 16.3 is coming to your iPhone this week, bringing some new features, some bug fixes, and some ties to Black History Month.
The news of the imminent release of iOS 16.3 comes from Apple itself, which let the release date pass in a while. press release highlighting the company’s efforts on behalf of Black History Month (opens in a new tab) in February. In addition to highlighting curated content in the Music, TV, News and Podcasts apps, Apple is adding a Unity watch face and iPhone wallpaper that incorporates the colors of the pan-African flag.
Both the Unity 2023 watch face and the Unity iPhone wallpaper will require iOS 16.3. And in the fine print of Apple’s Black History Month announcement yesterday (January 18), the company says the watch face and wallpaper “will be available next week.” That would apparently imply that the iOS update will arrive as well.
Another sign that iOS 16.3 is on the way: a beta version of the release candidate became available to developers this week. Usually that means a full release isn’t that far away.
If you’ve been following the iOS 16.3 beta process, you know that there aren’t many major features planned for this release. But Apple has a few additions ready to go once iOS 16.3 hits your iPhone. This is what you can expect.
iOS 16.3: Security Key Authentication for Apple ID
Users looking for an extra layer of security between ne’er-do-wells and their Apple ID data will be able to add security key authentication tanks to iOS 16.3.
Apple announced this (opens in a new tab) at the same time revealed the addition of Advanced data protection for iCloud, which arrived for US iPhone owners on iOS 16.2. At the time, Apple said it was targeting an early 2023 release for security key authentication, which follows with the release of iOS 16.3.
The physical security keys are intended to augment Apple’s existing two-factor authentication for the Apple ID, particularly for iPhone owners whose public profile makes them likely targets for hackers. Think celebrities, politicians and… looks around nervously – journalists.
When this feature is enabled, you will need a physical security key as one of the two factors to sign in to your Apple ID account.
Improved HomePod delivery
There’s an enhancement to the Handoff feature that transfers control of music playback from an iPhone to a HomePod speaker, an especially timely addition given the arrival this week of the Apple Home Pod 2. While Handoff has been around for some time now, iOS 16.3 introduces a new guide that more clearly shows HomePod owners how to use the Handoff feature.
The guide instructs you to place your iPhone within range of the HomePod to see the playback controls or pass the audio playing on your phone to the smart speaker. It also tells you to do this again if you want to see the controls or transfer the audio again later.
New emergency SOS via satellite call modes
iPhone 14 users already have access to SOS emergency via satellite if they need help while in a remote location, but iOS 16.3 adds two new ways to access it.
Call with Hold and Release replaces the existing Call with Hold feature, allowing you to access Emergency SOS and an alarm after holding down the power button and volume button. The previous Call On Hold feature required you to use a call slider to make an emergency call, something that would not necessarily be feasible depending on your situation.
The other new option is Call Quietly. This allows you to make an emergency call without triggering an alarm, in case it is not useful or could put you in further danger.
iOS 16.3 Advanced Global Data Protection
As we mentioned earlier, the iOS 16.2 update gave US iPhone owners access to Advanced Data Protection. That’s a new security feature that provides end-to-end encryption to Apple’s iCloud storage service, protecting information that’s stored in the cloud (with the exception of mail, contacts, and calendar data).
Apple had promised to bring Global Advanced Data Protection to other parts of the world with a future iOS update and, according to feedback from people who have been using iOS 16.3 beta (opens in a new tab), that moment has arrived. As before, to enable Advanced Data Protection, launch Settings, tap your name, followed by iCloud. From there, you can activate the security feature.
iOS 16.3 bug fix
The iOS 16.3 release notes detail various fixes coming via this software update. The biggest has to do with a bug where horizontal lines appeared on some iPhone 14 Pro Max models while phones woke up. In addition, iOS 16.3 fixes several issues related to Siri, Car Play, and the iPhone lock screen.
iOS 16.2 included a new architecture for Apple’s Home app, but as soon as that feature arrived, Apple pulled it out of the iPhone software. Users complained that some HomeKit devices were stuck in an “update” or “setup” state, while other devices were missing the Home app entirely, among other bugs. The new architecture returns in iOS 16.3, presumably now that Apple has fixed those issues.
what is still missing
Although iOS 16 has been around since fall 2022, not all of the features that Apple promised are available yet. We are still waiting for the launch of a dedicated program Apple Music Classic app, although there are reports iOS 16.3 release candidate contains code (opens in a new tab) hinting at such a service.
apple pay later, which lets you split payments via Apple Pay into four installments, hasn’t been released yet. Perhaps that’s part of iOS 16.4, which will likely appear in beta form soon after iOS 16.3 is released.
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