Apple is currently beta testing iOS 16.4 and it includes a number of new features and changes for iPhone users. Head below as we recap all these new features and guess when iOS 16.4 will be released to everyone…
What’s new in iOS 16.4?
One of the most popular new features in iOS 16.4 is the addition of new emoji. These new emoji are part of the Unicode Standard for Emoji Update 15.0, which was announced in July 2022. Among the new emoji, there are icons for a shaking face, a goose, a hyacinth, and a simple pink heart.
These new emojis are also included in the latest betas of macOS 13.3, watchOS 9.4, and iPadOS 16.4. It’s important to note that users running older versions of these operating systems won’t be able to see the new emoji, even if someone who has already updated sends them.
Changes to the beta testing process itself
With iOS 16.4, Apple is removing iOS beta profile sharing. In the past, anyone could download the latest iOS betas by installing the beta “profile” on their device. Specifically, this meant that users could install the iOS developer beta even without a developer account.
However, in iOS 16.4, the beta registration process will be linked to a developer’s Apple ID and accessed directly in the Settings app:
Starting with iOS & iPadOS 16.4 beta, Apple Developer Program members will see a new option to enable developer betas directly from Software Update in Settings.
This new option will automatically be enabled on devices already enrolled in the program that update to the latest beta version. Your iPhone or iPad must be signed in with the same Apple ID you used to sign up for the Apple Developer Program to see this option in Settings. In future iOS and iPadOS releases, this new setting will be the way to enable developer betas, and configuration profiles will no longer provide access.
More on beta testing changes:
Faster 5G and expansion to more countries
iOS 16.4 also enables 5G standalone for T-Mobile users in the United States. In particular, 5G SA can deliver extremely fast speeds, up to 3 Gbps, and it looks like the iPhone could be the next device to take advantage of the technology. 5G SA is also backed by Brazilian carriers Vivo and TIM Brazil, as well as Japanese firm Softbank.
Additionally, 5G itself has been rolled out to iPhone users in Macau, Azerbaijan and Turkey. iOS 16.4 also expands 5G connectivity to support Google Fi for the first time.
New Safari and third-party browser features
As detailed on the WebKit blog , iOS 16.4 gives Home screen web apps access to push notifications via the standard HTML5 Web Push API, including badges, for the first time. Access to the Apple Push Notification service was previously only available in App Store apps.
In addition, third-party browsers can now display a user interface for users to add a website to their home screen.
The Apple Books animation is back
In iOS 16.4, the Apple Books app has regained its iconic page-turning animation. This animation was removed when Apple redesigned the Books app with the initial release of iOS 16.
You can learn how to enable the new “Curl” animation in the Apple Books app by following our step-by-step guide here.
Changes to Apple Podcasts
For Apple Podcasts, there are changes to the Library, improvements to Next, and new CarPlay updates.
- Channels in the library: Easily access your subscribed channels and browse channels from shows you watch.
- Next improvements: Resume episodes you’ve started, start episodes you’ve saved, and remove any you want to skip.
- CarPlay updates: Quickly pick up where you left off with Next and find new shows in Browse.
- In the Music app, there are various interface tweaks and icon changes. For example, adding a song to the queue no longer causes a full screen popup. Instead, there is a much smaller notice at the bottom.
- Always-On Display can now be linked to focus modes.
- In Shortcuts, there’s a new “Set always-on screen” action, a new “Lock screen” action, and a new “Set VPN” action.
- iOS 16.4 includes a new screen in the Settings app where you can see all of your AppleCare coverage for multiple devices like your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods.
- iOS 16.4 enables rich previews for Mastodon links in the Messages app.
- There’s a new Home screen widget for the Wallet app’s built-in order tracking feature.
- iOS 16.4 will allow users to monitor the impact of Always-On Display on battery life.
When will iOS 16.4 be released for everyone?
iOS 16.4 is currently in its third developer and public beta, and the fourth beta could be released as soon as this week. With Apple now on a weekly cycle for new betas, the most likely outcome is that iOS 16.4 will be released to the public sometime this month.
For comparison, Apple released iOS 15.4 last year on March 14, after four betas and a final release candidate. This year, the company is behind schedule compared to that timeline, but again, a March release still makes sense.
Finally, Brazilian carrier Claro recently said it is working with Apple to enable 5G standalone for iPhone owners. More specifically, Claro said that users will have access to this new technology “in March of this year”, with the release of iOS 16.4. While Apple’s plans may change, the statement pretty much confirms that iOS 16.4 will be released to the public in the coming weeks.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Apple Music Classical is due out on March 28th. While Apple Music Classic isn’t tied to a specific version of iOS, Apple may want to time the new app’s release with a new iOS version to help garner attention.
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