iOS 16 and watchOS 9

As I’ve done on many previous occasions, I thought I’d write a few words about the latest Apple operating systems. I’m sure you’ve seen the reviews and possibly even upgraded yourself, so I’ll keep this brief! This is not intended to be complete; just a few highlights from my point of view.

First: they’re both stable. I’ve not seen any significant problems this year. If you were happy with iOS 15 and watchOS 8, and you’re able to, there’s no good reason not to upgrade.

For the most part, changes are subtle and either easy to ignore or genuine improvements.

The high-profile changes, such as the lock screen, fall somewhere between the two. Having widgets on the home screen is nice, but I’ve not found it to be a game-changer yet. Maybe I need to find the right widgets?

Under “subtle” is the enhanced “Focus” mode. Last year you could silence notifications by using the correct mode. I have a “Work” focus, where most notifications are disabled and a “Sleep” focus, where almost everything is disabled.

iOS 16 enhances this. For example, I now have a “Personal” focus where all my work stuff is disabled. That means notifications, like last year, but it’s also extended to the inside of apps. If I open Mail or Calendar, I don’t see any work emails or meetings. This is flipped in my “Work” focus.

This may take some tuning, but, I think, it is likely to have more impact than the shiny new home screen, tweaks in the Weather app or the ability to unsend Messages. All of these, to be clear, are nice improvements.

The changes in watchOS are also quite subtle. The improvements I like the most so far are all in the Workouts app. There is much more information visible while you’re running and in the partner iPhone app. You can programme in a pace, time or distance, and have the watch keep you appraised of progress during the run. The first time I used the “Pace” mode, I had my best Parkrun result of the year. Coincidence? (Probably. But for the sake of the narrative, let’s pretend otherwise.)

It’s unfortunate that some of the things I was looking forward to are not available on the Series 4. I’m not surprised as such, but it might have been nice if it had been documented on Apple’s website.

Like the phone, there are a lot of other updates, too. Notifications are nicer. I have a different watch face (I moved from California to Metropolitan). But if we’re talking impact, I think that’s the Workout app.

tl;dr? Nice, stable updates. Nothing earth-shattering but great incremental improvements. Lots to like.