Apple iOS 16.1: release time, features and what to expect from iPhone update

New features are expected to add more functionality and seamless operability for the company's flagship devices

iPhone 14 models on display at the Apple Store in The Dubai Mall. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Apple is set to release the latest version of its iPhone software on Monday, with a number of features that will add more functionality and, importantly, seamless operability for its flagship devices.

Last month Apple released a fix for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, which corrected a bug that makes the rear camera physically shake when used with certain third-party apps. That was the second update to the new devices after users were asked to update to iOS 16.0.1 to address an issue related to activating FaceTime calls.

Here is what to expect in iOS 16.1, given further context from Apple's official release notes.

Apple Fitness+, even if you don't own a Watch

Users will be able to access Apple Fitness+ even without a Watch on iOS 16.1. Photo: Apple

Apple on Thursday confirmed that its health and wellness service, Fitness+, will be integrated into iOS 16.1, which will allow users to use it even if they don't have or own a Watch. It will also be available on the 16.1 versions of iPadOS and tvOS.

Users will only need to subscribe to the service; once done, they can access more than 3,000 workouts and meditation content on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, or stream it to any third-party device compatible with AirPlay. The drawback of this, however, is that users won't be able to see their metrics, such as steps taken, calories burnt or heart rate, in real time.

It will be available in 21 countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Dynamic Island 'within reach'

Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Photo: Apple

Dynamic Island — the pill-and-hole combo that replaced the notch on the iPhone 14 Pro models — is getting an immediate update that will allow users to reach it more easily with single-handed use, via the iPhone's Reachability feature, under accessibility and touch in settings. Curiously, Dynamic Island wasn't integrated into Reachability when it was first launched.

Once activated, swiping down from the bottom edge of the display — specifically, on the iPhone's dock — will pull the entire screen down and bring the top portion lower, letting your thumb access Dynamic Island without stretching it too far up.

iCloud Shared Photo Library

iCloud Photos on iPhone and iPad.

Among all the new features in iOS 16.1, the photo library had the most detail in Apple's release notes. To summarise the most important bit: the update will allow you to share photos easier, as well as add up to five people who will be able to perform tasks — add, delete, edit, mark as favourite and caption — on images in a shared iCloud folder.

The update stretches to the iPhone's camera: the update will introduce a sharing toggle that lets users send photos taken directly to the shared library or automatically share them via Bluetooth when other participants are detected nearby.

Clean Energy Charging

Apple's Clean Energy Charging will be found under battery in the iPhone's settings. Photo: Apple

iOS 16.1 will have a new feature within the battery's settings that would help users contribute to lower carbon emissions. Apple's Clean Energy Charging feature will selectively charge the iPhone with electricity that has a lower carbon footprint in an effort to promote more sustainable charging methods.

This US-only feature was mentioned by Apple during the introduction of iOS 16. By default, it is activated, but users have the option to switch it off.

An Apple Card savings account with Goldman Sachs

FILE - In this March 25, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, speaks about the Apple Card at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif. A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Financial Services confirmed Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 that they are investigating Goldman Sachs for possible sex discrimination in the way it sets credit limits. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

Another US-only feature, iOS 16.1 will allow Apple Card holders to open a "high-yield" savings account with Goldman Sachs, one of America's biggest banks, in which they can deposit money. It is unclear, however, how high of an interest rate this will offer.

This is part of an update to the Wallet app, which, with iOS 16.1, will also come with a new Key sharing feature that will allow users to securely share car, hotel room and other keys using messaging apps, including the iPhone's Messages and WhatsApp.

Matter support for the Home app

Matter, the coming connectivity standard, will allow interoperability between Apple, Amazon and Google smart home products. AP

The coming standard for smart home connectivity, Matter, will make its debut on iOS 16.1, and it will support "a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems", according to Apple.

Matter — the brainchild of an alliance between Apple, Google and Amazon, among others — aims to improve interoperability by using a single protocol that will seamlessly connect devices within smart homes and Internet of Things platforms. This means HomeKit, Home, Alexa and others will be able to connect to each other easily.

Live Activities now on third-party apps

Live Activities, the new feature that lets you keep track of things in real time on the lock screen, will now be extended to third-party apps. This means you can keep track of, for example, sports scores or food delivery, even when your iPhone is idle.

Of note, however, is that Live Activities on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will be displayed on Dynamic Island. For comparison, this appears at the bottom of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, as well as other iPhones.

Books update, and a few bug fixes

For the Books app, Apple said reader controls will automatically be hidden as users start reading on iOS 16.1.

Apple also indicated three bug fixes in iOS 16.1, including rectifying an error in which deleted conversations may appear in the conversations list in Messages, CarPlay failing to connect when using a VPN app, and the Dynamic Island's aforementioned issue with Reachability.

iOS 16.1, which will be compatible with all devices launched from 2017 — iPhone 8 and X — onwards, is expected to be rolled out in the UAE at 9pm on Monday.

Updated: October 24, 2022, 5:31 AM