The third public beta for iOS 15.4 has arrived, but we’re looking even further ahead to Apple’s next big software update: the rumored iOS 16.
We have a lot of questions about iOS 16 — and with no confirmed release date at this point, we’ll probably have to wait until Apple’s WWDC in June to get official answers. Will older devices, like the 2016 iPhone 7, get iOS 16? How will the update compare to iOS 15 (which brought a slew of exciting features, including a tool that lets you scan text from a piece of paper)?
Here’s everything we’ve heard so far. Keep in mind that Apple has yet to confirm any of the new operating system’s features. We’ll update this article with new rumors and leaks as we find them.
Release date: When is iOS 16 coming out?
We won’t have a rock-solid iOS 16 release date for a while, but we have a good guess based on precedent. Apple usually announces the next iOS at its annual WWDC conference and releases a public beta soon after. It’s safe to say we’ll learn more details at WWDC in June, where Apple showed off iOS 15’s upgrades last year.
We could very well see iOS 16 roll out in September, as the next iOS typically arrives at the same time as the next iPhone. Last year, for example, Apple released iOS 15 on Sept. 20, about a week after the iPhone 13 event. Should Apple’s iPhone 14 event take place this September, as iPhone events usually do, iOS 16 would likely be quick to follow.
Compatibility: Will iOS 16 be available for your iPhone?
Even as Apple churns out a new iOS every year, the operating systems are compatible for most old models, with iOS 15 working smoothly on the 2015 iPhone 6s. But the French website iPhoneSoft claims a developer at Apple leaked that iOS 16 will work with iPhones that have an A10 processor or higher. That’s the iPhone 7 and up — and not the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus or the SE 2016.
iPhoneSoft also says iPadOS 16 “will probably not” be compatible with the iPad Mini 4, iPad 5, iPad Air 2, or iPad Pro 9.7 and 12.9 inches.
iOS 16’s rumored new features: Big widgets?
A hallmark of the iPhone user experience is the grid of small app squares that dot the home screen. But LeaksApplePro suggests that iOS 16 is bringing “big widgets” to the table. The image that LeaksApplePro tweeted appears to show apps displayed in larger squares and rectangles than usual, leaving room for more information such as the day’s weather, specific reminders and the song that’s playing. The image has been met with some skepticism, with some saying the Apple TV remote logo is inconsistent with the remote’s appearance.
As for other features, iOS 15 brought upgrades like grid view and call scheduling to FaceTime — and it’s possible that with iOS 16, Apple could opt to make FaceTime look even more like Zoom in this era of telework and videoconferencing. And as tech giants push the metaverse hype and rumors of an Apple VR or AR headset fly, it’s possible that iOS 16 could incorporate some meta elements, though Apple CEO Tim Cook has carefully avoided using the word.
How to download the iOS 16 beta (when it’s available)
It’s a little far out, but it never hurts to be prepared. Downloading a new operating system eats up quite a bit of space on a phone, so you’ll want to get rid of storage suckers like old photos, videos and apps. Then you need to back up your phone so you don’t lose anything important should the update go awry. If you’re wondering how to do that, our checklist from the iOS 14 release provides a step-by-step guide.
To try out the public beta once it comes, you’ll need to enroll in the Apple Beta Software Program. (Note that last year, CNET contributor Jason Cipriani cautioned against installing the iOS 15 beta too quickly.)
Looking for more information about the latest from Apple? Check out CNET’s rumor roundups for the iPhone 14 and iPhone SE 3. If you’re on the hunt for new ways to use your iPhone now, take a look at these iOS 15 settings to change and hidden features.