Apple confirms it will release iOS 16.5 and watchOS 9.5 next week

Apple has announced the release date for iOS 16.5 and watchOS 9.4: next week. iOS 16.5 and watchOS 9.5 are required for the new Pride Celebration watch face and iPhone wallpaper, but iOS 16.5 also has two new features.

iOS 16 icon set against a solid light-gray background
  • The iOS 16.5 update for the iPhone and watchOS 9.5 for the Apple Watch will launch for public consumption next week.
  • Apple’s confirmed this in its announcement about the new Pride Celebration wallpaper and watch face coming to the iPhone and Apple Watch soon.
  • iOS 16.5 is a maintenance release with two new conveniences: A new Sports tab in the News app and the ability to start and stop screen recordings via Siri.

iOS 16.5 and watchOS 9.5 release date set to next week

“The new Pride Celebration watch face and iPhone wallpaper will be available next week and requires watchOS 9.5 and iOS 16.5,” according to the official announcement published in the Apple Newsroom.

This is the last feature update ahead of iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, both of which will be previewed alongside other Apple software at WWDC in June. However, Apple will continue releasing maintenance and bug-fix updates for iOS and iPadOS 16 to patch zero-day exploits and significant vulnerabilities.

The new dedicated Sports tab in News

Apple’s News app on iOS 16.5 features a dedicated new Sports tab, allowing you to browse sports news for the teams, leagues and athletes you follow.

iPhone screenshots showcasing the sports tab in the Apple News app
Sports content gets its own tab in the News app | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

The new tab also highlights games and lets you find and read the coverage of your favorite sports. Once you’ve set your preferred leagues and favorite teams, the News app will show corresponding news articles about those leagues and teams.

In earlier iOS versions, sports articles were available alongside other content in the Today and Following views, which wasn’t ideal. Giving this section its own tab will aid the discoverability of sports-focused content in the News app.

Siri now handles screen recording

You can start/stop a screen recording in the iPhone’s Control Center, provided the screen-recording control has been added in Settings > Control Center.

iPhone screenshot showing the lock screen with the Siri command at the bottom to start a screen recording
Starting a screen recording hands-free | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

With iOS 16.5, however, you can ask Siri to start and stop a screen-recording session, hands-free, using just your voice—but your request must be specific:

  • “Hey Siri, start screen recording.”
  • “Hey Siri, stop screen recording.”

Variations of the above commands don’t work. Unfortunately, we’re still rooting for a Screen Recording action in the Shortcuts app. With it, you’d be able to create automation scripts that programmatically start and stop screen recordings.

New in watchOS 9.5: Installing beta updates

iOS 16 introduces a new system for downloading and installing public and developer betas of future iOS releases that do away with configuration profiles.

A black Apple Watch Series 7 is pictured resting on its side next to the trackpad on Apple's MacBook Pro notebook in this featured image from Unsplash
Software Update in watchOS 9.5 handles developer and public betas of watchOS directly, without configuration profiles | Credit: Raagesh C/Unsplash

Apple has made this change to put an end to the practice where developers share configuration profiles with regular users who don’t have access to early iOS betas.

Now this system will be available via Software Update for watchOS beats. As long as you’ve used the Apple ID associated with your watch to register on the Apple Developer or Apple Beta Software Program website, Software Update on your Apple Watch will offer new over-the-air watchOS betas to directly download and install.