Apple Technology

iOS 16: Initial reactions

Like millions and millions of other iPhone users worldwide, I was keen to download the new iPhone operating system just as soon as it was available.

In what can only be described as an act of supreme self-control, I didn’t download any of the Apple beta software this summer, as I much prefer it when my devices work as expected and don’t lose important data or functionality when I’m trying to run a business.


The download took quite some time, but installation was fairly quick and painless. In fact, it completed while I was watching TV and I didn’t initially notice it had finished.

Some initial thoughts

I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the changes Apple has made to iOS here, but a few things stand out for me that I think are worth flagging now:

1. Reminders

The ability to use more specific filtering for the smart lists in Apple Reminders has turned the app into something I’m definitely going to use more. I’ve actually decided to use it for all my personal tasks and projects for the next month to put it through its paces. Whether or not I stick with it, Reminders has grown from a bare-bones list maker to a task manager that can challenge the best of them.

It’s also free, comes built in to the OS and synchs beautifully and quickly in the background. Siri announces reminders into your AirPods (if you want) and the location-based reminders have saved my bacon more than once. So three cheers for the boost to Reminders.

2. Wallpapers

I, like many others, have burnt through some valuable time by playing around with all the new wallpaper and widget options, to personalise my home screen. It’s not at the same level as Android – yet – but it’s a definite improvement.

Some people may argue that this is far from important, when there are so many other things Apple could invest their time and energy in. I sort of agree, but then again, the iPhone is something I look at countless times per day, so I’d like to see happy and smiling images there, rather than a soulless corporate image.

I love how you can select a set of personal photos and have them alternate on a daily, hourly or even screen activation basis. Widgets are limited, but I expect more developers to have things in the works in the coming weeks and months. Personally, I like to see my Apple Fitness rings and some weather information.

Living in London, knowing when it’s going to rain is incredibly useful.

I think there’s a lot more I can do with the wallpapers and widgets, but I’m going to leave things be for the moment and explore more of the OS in the coming days.

3. Apple Mail

I use Mail for my personal email, preferring to keep my business mail in a separate app. Boundaries between the personal and the professional are important to me and I don’t want to be reminded of work-related challenges or demands while I’m searching for a receipt from Muji in my inbox.

There are quite a few small changes, that frankly add up to quite the upgrade for Mail. Yesterday, I got an email from a well-known retailer reminding me that I can get a discount on my birthday. Which is nice, except my birthday isn’t until February. So, I used the ‘Remind me’ functionality to have this email pop back into my inbox in a few months, so I can take advantage of their (corporate) generosity.

I’ll keep digging

There are so many more things to explore in the iOS16, I feel I’ll only have my head around it all when iPadOS will be launched next month. They lag between the two is only slightly annoying.

On the one hand, I’d much prefer Apple sort out all the seemingly significant bugs and UI issues in iPadOS before releasing it into the wild. On the other hand, having some functionality working on the iPhone today, but not the iPad, is a glaring un-Apple point of friction.

Reminders is a case in point. On the iPhone, the Today view neatly arranges your reminders into Morning, Afternoon and Evening sections. Not so on the iPad. On the iPhone, you can really get into detailed filters in your lists, but these don’t yet work on the iPad.

So there’s going to be a month (at least?) while some of the core apps behave differently on two of Apple’s key devices. It’s inelegant, but necessary. I hope they re-align them in time for September 2023.

And yes, I’m still glad I cancelled my iPhone 14 Pro order. iOS 16 feels like a great upgrade and, best of all: it was free.

(Photo by Penfer on Unsplash)

0 comments on “iOS 16: Initial reactions

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