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Apple’s iOS 16 Lock Screen is more than just a fresh coat of paint! Here's why!

By Aryan Suren June 8, 2022, 12:00 pm
iPhone 12 running iOS 16 featuring the new lock screen Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

WWDC 2022 was long this year, but over the two hours and various announcements, there were a few that stuck out. The M2 Chip and the newly redesigned MacBook Air are fantastic, but in this article, I'll be focusing on the brand new iOS 16 Lock Screen.

This element of the iPhone is now more refined yet more complex than ever before, which makes it more than just a fresh coat of paint, and here's why!

The iOS 16 Developer Beta is now available for users with a Developer Account, with the Public Beta set for a launch in July. Check out Sanuj Bhatia's guide on installing the iOS 16 Beta on your iPhone if you have a compatible device.

What's new with the Lock Screen in iOS 16?

Personalization and Widgets

iOS 16 Featured Image Source: Apple

With iOS 16, there's a new take on the Lock Screen that aims to make it more personal, plus there's the implementation of widgets and other interactive notifications that should help increase the time you spend on this particular screen rather than with your phone unlocked.


At this moment, users can edit the font used for the time and day and even apply styles to the image used for the Lock Screen. At the same time, the topmost day and date option can also be customized to pair the date with widgets from other apps. Lastly, there's a section below which you can use to add widgets.

Apart from these changes, Apple generates a new depth effect on the Lock Screen and calls it multi-layering. The setup mostly makes the primary subject of the image appear in front of the time displayed, which primarily facilitates the depth effect. Unfortunately, using the dedicated section for widgets disables this feature.

Live Activities

an image showing the live activities on iOS 16 Source: Apple

The next element that breathes more capability into the Lock Screen is Live Activities. The feature is effectively an ever-evolving notification that will, in some cases, even become interactive. Apple showcased renders for a running app from Nike, Apple Music, and sports scores.

But in my time with iOS 16, I noticed the Timer shows a new interactive live view — which is a lot more prominent. On iOS 15, the countdown was a subtle little element that showed under the clock and only provided the status. But on iOS 16, it can be paused, resumed, or canceled without having to unlock your phone.

All the features here on iOS 16's Lock Screen make me wish that we get to see an Always-On Feature at WWDC or as part of an iOS 16.1 upgrade. Looking at vital info without any taps seems like the next best step to increasing utility on the Lock Screen.

Wallpaper Collections

iOS 16 Wallpaper Picker User Interface Source: Pocketnow

But alongside its newfound capability comes Wallpaper Collections that aim to add more character to the Lock Screen. This feature showcases a couple of built-in styles that users can apply. They bring unique live elements to the UI and can even tap into your photo album to generate recommendations that work with the depth effect.

I liked some of the software's suggestions, especially the one you see of my dog in the image above.

Focus for Lock Screen

an image showing focus modes on iOS 16 lock screen Source: Apple

Next up is the ability to link Focus with the Lock Screen. If you long-press on your phone while the lock screen is visible, it brings up a menu that allows you to add more variants — like Pages for your apps — which can then be paired with your existing focus modes to make your lock screen suit your circumstances.

For example, I write my articles from India, which needs me to keep track of the time in North America. But this isn't something I need every minute of the week, especially on weekends. So my work Lock Screen would include article deadlines within the calendar widget and clocks featuring different time zones in the other half.

These changes bring about the possibility of reducing the number of times I need to go into my phone and end up spiraling into the world of social media or just other distractions. Yes, I do have an Apple Watch, but there are times I instinctively head for my phone, and this is perfect for those scenarios.

Redesigned Notification Carousel

image showing the new notification carousel on iOS 16 Source: Apple

And wrapping up the changes is the redesigned notification carousel which comes up from the bottom of the screen rather than being an ever-present element smack in the middle. It's a decision that flows well with the push for a more personalized Lock Screen. Over my day of use, I've noticed it's easy to reach, but I still feel the need for a couple more days to get used to its positioning and function.

Another thing I noticed was that a swipe down from the top, when in Landscape, no longer brings up the Lock Screen but just the notifications.

Why it's more than just a fresh coat of paint!

Now finally, coming to why I call the Lock Screen more than just a fresh coat of paint.

It's because it is less archaic and more useful than ever before!

The iPhone has been a device with limited personalization. The custom icon designs with iOS 14 introduced an indirect step that's long been missing, and the treatment given to the Lock Screen can only imply that changes to the Home Screen might be on the way.

Apart from this, if I ever picked up my brother's iPhone — we both have the iPhone 12 in Black — the only differentiating factors were our protective covers and wallpapers. iOS 16 helps change this. I've never been one to use photos of pets or family on my lock screen and instead chose to go with solid colors or abstract options.

But this time around, there's a way to make it look good without much of my input, which is attractive. The smart suggestion system in the background also seems to be working well, as it showed recommendations I'd consider using. The ability to make your phone uniquely yours is something Android users have had for a while, and I'm glad it's making its way to iOS.

iOS 16 Lock Screen with the weather widget, clock widget, and batteries widget Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

But next up are the widgets, which key into an essential aspect, "Familiarity." The term has a simple meaning: having good knowledge of something.' It makes you feel more comfortable and sets expectations that aren't only objective and more often satisfied than not.

Being able to pick up your device and get access to what you want in the least possible time is amazing, so Apple's decision to integrate Apple Watch-like complications is welcome.

During the WWDC Keynote, I noticed the similarity between the Lock Screen Widgets and the complications on my Apple Watch, and it wasn't shocking to see Apple make the exact reference in its press release.

When I saw the event, my mind went straight to how I wanted my Lock Screen to look, and I had an image imprinted in my head and the iOS 16 Developer Beta delivers.

To sum it up, the Lock Screen can be more "me" than it ever has, and I think it's worth being excited for; plus, the ability to cater it to work scenarios with Widgets and Focus Modes is also a welcome improvement.

Things we hope iOS 16 also brings!

iPhone 14 Always On Display concept by Pocketnow
iPhone 14 Always On Display concept by Pocketnow
Source: Pocketnow, Illustration by Roland Udvarlaki

But, while iOS 16 looks to be an overall positive change in my books, it still has some more rocks to cross. I think users should have the option to choose which shortcuts are visible on the Lock Screen.

While the flashlight and camera are functional tools that we might frequently use, somebody might prefer to have a button for the Phone App or Clock to quickly access timers. The use cases might be infinite, and I hope Apple at least allows a few options that are a part of a phone's core applications.

And as mentioned earlier, I hope for the public version or the 16.1 upgrades to bring Always-On Display support to several iPhone models. We know the always-on widgets work just fine on the Apple Watch, and I believe they'll find themselves right at home on the iPhone.


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