How to customize your lock screen and 9 other iOS 16 tricks

Apple’s iOS 16 update changed your iPhone. Here’s how to change it back, make it better and do more.

(The Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Lurking inside every major smartphone update are a mix of changes we like, changes we don’t and features we don’t even know are there yet. Apple’s iOS 16 update for iPhones came out last week, and behind the flashier updates like editable messages is a whole list of subtle tweaks.

These big Apple updates always add in new settings and ways to customize your devices. On iPhones, that can mean introducing clutter and confusion, or just challenging creatures of habit who don’t like it when buttons move around (hello). Let us guide you through your phone’s new look, including that bigger clock.

Personalize your lock screen

On iOS 16, you can now add widgets and other fun things to your lock screen. (Video: The Washington Post)

The idea here is to let you see more information without having to unlock your phone. Press and hold on the lock screen, tap the Customize button that appears at the bottom, then tap Add New (you can’t customize your existing wallpaper).

Change the background: The usual wallpaper options here are a photo, pattern or plain color. You can also, for some reason, make a collage of up to six emoji for your wallpaper. Swipe right on any of these for additional looks. New dynamic wallpaper options include shuffling photos (pick a person or your own mix of images), showing an approximation of the weather outside, and some space-themed backgrounds like the solar system or moon. The Depth Effect setting (three dots in the bottom right corner) brings the subject of a photo in front of the clock.

Add widgets: Next, you can throw on some “widgets” — small boxes that show changing information. Tap on Add Widgets under the time on your new screen and pick up to four small options or two big ones for things like the weather, your battery levels or the latest headlines. Customize the dateline above the time by tapping on it to add info like the moon phase.

Change your home screen, too: When you’re finished tinkering, hit Done in the top right corner. Select Set as Wallpaper Pair to have it auto generate a wallpaper for you home screen (the one that appears behind your apps), or Customize home screen to pick your own wallpaper. You can’t get around setting a new home screen wallpaper.

Make more for different occasions: You can add multiple custom lock screens. If you want them to change according your focus mode (dark and empty if you’re sleeping, headlines and weather when at work) tap the Focus button on the bottom of the preview screen.

Change the clock font back

Yes, the clock on the iPhone’s lock screen is now beefier. The bold type makes it easier to see the time at a glance, but anyone who misses the old font can switch it back. You can only alter this on a custom lock screen (see above). If you want your new lock page to look the same, you’ll have to create a new custom screen and then pick the exact same photo as your wallpaper.

Press and hold on the lock screen, tap the Customize button that appears at the bottom. Tap on the time and pick the second option in if you want to change it back to what it was in iOS 15, or experiment with the other font and color options.

Make notifications into a list again

One more change for the home screen! If you’re not a fan of the stacked notifications, you can switch to a list. Go to Settings → Notifications → Display As, then select List.

Audit what apps are accessing your data

Apple added a much-needed safety feature to help people in dangerous or abusive situations see who can access their data, then take action. Called Safety Check, this setting doubles as a fast security and privacy audit that everyone should check out. It will show you what people and apps can access things like your location, mic and camera.

Go to Settings → Privacy & Security → Safety Check (near the bottom of the page). Tap Manage Sharing & Access, tap Continue and go through the guided check. The app list is similar to existing settings in Privacy & Security, but arranged in a way that makes it easier to see, and cut off, apps’ access.

Make your keyboard vibrate, quietly

Get a satisfying clicking feeling when typing on the on-screen keyboard. Go to Settings → Sounds & Haptics → Keyboard Feedback, toggle the on Haptic setting so it is green.

(If your keyboard makes the loud clicking sounds when you type, you don’t need to live this way. In the same location, toggle off the Sound option so it is gray.)

Hang up on calls with your voice

If you like to walk and talk, or knit and chat, you can now hang up a phone call without hitting a button. Go to Settings → Siri & Search → Call Hang Up and toggle the button on. Next time you’re on a phone or FaceTime call, dramatically say “Hey Siri, hang up!” Great for getting in the last word.

Dictate emoji

When you’re dictating an important email or text to your boss, you can now include emoji without having to go back an insert them. Say the emoji you want out loud followed by the word “emoji.” For example: “The presentation will not be ready on time sad face emoji.” (This works on the iPhone XS or later.)

The latest iOS 16 update allows you to use voice dictation to type emojis. (Video: The Washington Post)

Get rid of the search button

There’s a wee Search button on the bottom of the home screen, so you no longer have to drag a finger down from the top of the screen to look up an app or contact. If you don’t like it, go to Settings → Home Screen, then toggle off the Show on Home Screen option under Search.

Generate live captions

It’s not as good as real captions, but a new feature can help in a pinch. Live captions will show a black box on the bottom of your screen that attempts to generate captions for whatever app you have open — whether it’s TikTok, a podcast or your own videos.

Recover deleted Messages

If you delete a conversation or message, you can recover it on your phone for up to 30 days. Go back to the main Messages screen and select Edit in the top corner, then Show Recently Deleted. If you have the setting turned on to filter unknown senders, you’ll select Filters from the top corner, the Recently Deleted. Select and hit Recover. Your message or conversation will show back up in its original spot.

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