Grab your iPhone and follow along with our video roundup highlighting some of the lesser-known, hidden features in Apple’s iOS 16 software.
We’ve already rounded up more than 125 cool new features of iOS 16, as well as some of the lesser-known ones, but we still haven’t uncovered all the gems. In this hands-on video walkthrough, our videographer Michael Billig (@michael_billig) covers ten of the hidden or not-so-visible features in the iOS 16 update.
We want to unearth the more useful iOS 16 features that Apple hasn’t talked about or shown off at all. These video tips we’ve been making lately are a part of that effort. We’re open to suggestions so chime in with your thoughts in the comments.
1. Tapback reactions for SMS threads
Emoji reactions in Messages (Apple calls them Tapback reactions) finally work in SMS threads. Previously, Tapbacks were limited to iMessages.
But now when an iPhone user responds with a tapback to a text message in an SMS thread, their reaction appears on the corresponding green bubble for any non-iPhone recipients. This fixes those annoying reaction texts (Chris Liked “Yo, we’re going to the movies tonight after all!”) in green-bubble groups.
2. A constantly changing lock screen wallpaper
When adding a new wallpaper, touch the Photo Shuffle option at the top of the image picker. This will automatically change your wallpaper throughout the day.
You can choose which people, pets, nature or cities to shuffle, select photos manually or use ones in the Featured section of the Photos app. Shuffle frequency can be set to hourly or daily. You can even have your iPhone automatically change the wallpaper when you wake the screen or lock the device.
3. Copy and paste Apple Calendar events
If you have the same event that repeats every now and then, you don’t need to create it from scratch every time. iOS 16 lets you copy an event from Apple’s Calendar app and paste it into another day.
Just touch and hold an entry in the Calendar app, then choose Copy from the bubble menu. I wasn’t aware this wasn’t possible before because I don’t have the need to copy and paste existing events. But if you do, you’re going to love this quality-of-life improvement. Read: How to see events in Apple Calendar as a list
4. The View selection bar in Calendar in landscape mode
If you turn your iPhone upside down to enter the landscape view in iOS 16’s Calendar app, you can now switch between your day, week, month and year views by hitting the corresponding buttons at the top.
This is going to be a great feature for those with a large-screen iPhone who prefer to browse their calendar horizontally. Before iOS 16, the Calendar app only showed the weekly view and there was no view selection bar, which was frustrating.
5. Custom email domain management
As of iOS 15.4, you can use a custom domain you already own with your iCloud email address. This is great for business and personal branding as you can replace the iCloud.com part with something like mycompany.com.
And now in iOS 16, you can add a custom email domain to iCloud Mail right on your iPhone in Settings → [your name] → iCloud → Custom Email Domain, then follow the onscreen instructions. In iOS 15, this option was available via Settings → iCloud Mail → Custom Email Domain so iOS 16 basically makes this option more visible.
To use a custom domain with your iCloud email address, you or someone in your Family Sharing group must have an iCloud+ subscription.
6. Focus modes activate watch faces
iOS 16 lets you assign Focus modes to specific lock screens. Apple Watch owners can also pick a specific watch face to activate with any Focus mode. Simply go to Settings → Focus, then touch one of the listed Focus modes and you should see the icon representing your Apple Watch in the Customize Screens section.
I also like how the Fitness focus behaves on iOS 16. I’ve set the Fitness focus to activate my emoji-only lock screen. So now whenever I start a workout on my Apple Watch, that lock screen automatically shows up.
I have no widgets on my Fitness lock screen—I don’t need unnecessary info while I’m working out other than the stats displayed on my watch. And as soon as I end the workout on the watch, my iPhone switches to the previous lock screen. Sweet!
7. Add pretty much anything to quick notes
The existing Quick Notes feature is more useful in iOS 16. Now you can quickly write notes anywhere on your iPhone by choosing Add to Quick Note from the sharing menu. Alternatively, open the Control Center and touch the Quick Note button (if you don’t see it, venture into Settings → Control Center and choose Quick Note). This is a super convenient feature to save something for later inside the Notes app.
8. Lifting subjects from backgrounds in Safari
One of the neatest features of iOS 16 that turns heads is the ability to just touch and hold the subject on an image in the Photos app to isolate it from the background. The resulting image is a PNG file (with transparency) that you can easily share.
The good news is, this also works in Safari with images you see on webpages. According to Apple, isolating a photo’s subject from its background also works in other places in iOS 16 such as Visual Look Up, Screenshot, Quick Look and more.
9. Find and replace in Notes
The Notes app has become powerful over the years, but a simple feature’s been sorely missing: find and replace. iOS 16 brings find and replace to the Notes app so now you can replace multiple instances of a word or phrase with another one.
Open a note and touch the share menu, then choose the new Find in Note option. This pulls up the standard interface for highlighting words or phrases in the note. All you need to do now is touch the magnifying glass icon in the Find field and choose Find & Replace from the menu. Read: 5 free note-taking apps for Apple Watch
10. More prominent accessory tiles in Home
One of the little features in iOS 16’s Home app that could make your day if you’re invested in the smart home game is the ability to make any accessory tile bigger than the default size. People who own a bunch of smart home appliances are now finally able to visually distinguish the more important ones from the rest.
Simply touch any tile in the Home app, then choose Edit Home View. With the icons jiggling like they’re doing a dance, touch a tile for, say, your smart light bulb to reveal the Enlarge button in the icon’s upper-right corner. Hit the icon to cycle between the small and large tile. You’re welcome! Watch: The 21 best features of iOS 16