While iOS 16 is full of great new features, not everything Apple announced at WWDC is going to make it to your iPhone when you first update to iOS 16. Some, of course, just don’t work on older iPhones. But others are simply not destined to be a part of the initial release. Rather, you’ll see them later this year in iOS 16.1, 16.2, or maybe even a later update. Here are the iOS 16 features we know about that you’re just going to have to wait a little longer to get.
iCloud Shared Photo Library
One of the most anticipated features of iOS 16 is the ability to have a single shared photo library in iCloud. You’ve been able to make shared albums for a long time, but having a single library shared among family members to which photos and videos automatically go–that’s something many have wanted for a long time.
We thought it was a certain inclusion in the initial iOS 16 release, but has cut at the last minute, disappearing from the release candidate after being included in previous beta releases. Apple didn’t mention when the feature will return, but the iOS 16 website now says “Coming later this year,” so we would guess iOS 16.1 in October is a safe bet.
When iOS 16 was unveiled at WWDC in June, Live Activities was a real highlight. You can think of them as notifications that persist and are dynamically updated by their associated apps. Following a sports match? Why get a whole stack of notifications every time the score changes, when you could have one notification that shows a live, continuously updating score? The same goes for food or parcel deliveries, ride-hailing apps, fitness activities, and more.
The Live Activities API was set to be in the initial iOS 16 release, but a post to the developer site announcing the API for developers, confirmed that, “Live Activities and ActivityKit won’t be included in the initial public release of iOS 16.” Instead, the feature will be available “later this year,” which sounds like iOS 16.1 to us. At any rate, it gives developers more time to submit their apps with Live Activities to the App Store.
Matter is a new smart home cross-compatibility standard that is long overdue. Put simply, a device that is Matter certified will work with Apple Home, Alexa, and Google Home (among others). The Home app in iOS 16 is getting a big update, including a welcome new interface, lots of under-the-hood performance and reliability updates, and support for Matter.
The new app is still coming, but Matter support won’t arrive until later this year. Still, Apple’s one of the early adopters here: the first devices to ship with Matter support and the first software updates to make older devices compatible with Matter are also coming later this fall.
Emergency SOS via satellite
One of the coolest new features of iPhone 14 (standard and Pro) is its ability to send brief emergency texts via satellites if you’re out of range of Wi-Fi or cell towers. It’s slow (even short messages can take 20 seconds to over a minute to send) but it can literally save your life in a dire outdoors emergency.
It’s not going to be there right when the iPhone 14 line goes on sale, though. Apple’s support document explains the feature “will be available with an iOS 16 software update coming in November 2022.”
Game Center features
Game Center is getting support for SharePlay, which will let you start playing a game right away while in a FaceTime call, and it will integrate with Contacts so you can see all your contacts’ Game Center profiles (if they allow it) quickly and easily in the Contacts app. It’s not clear what the hold up is on these features, but they’re coming in an update to iOS 16 later this fall.
Clean Energy Charging
Never before announced, but mentioned in a footnote of Apple’s iOS 16 press release, Clean Energy Charging will attempt to charge your iPhone at times when the electric grid in your area is using cleaner sources of energy. The feature will be available in the US only at first, but we don’t yet know how it will work.
Apple announced a new first-party whiteboarding and collaboration app called Freeform as part of of its iPadOS 16 demo at WWDC, but the app is really cross-platform. You’ll be able to download it for iPad, Mac, or iPhone, and collaborate freely with your colleagues through the cloud wherever you are. It’s basically a big flexible canvas that lets you drop almost anything onto it–PDFs, Notes, images, audio, web links, and more–seeing them all in preview. Then you can add notes or draw anywhere with Apple Pencil support, and see where others are working with live cursors.
Freeform was a “coming later this year” thing from the very beginning, but when Apple decided to skip the release of iPadOS 16, making the first initial release iPadOS 16.1, it really put a hold on it. At this point, we can’t be sure exactly when Freeform will be released, but it’s certainly going to be some time after iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura, and possibly even 2023.