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Apple iOS 16 Review: Features Coming to Devices and Release Date

iOS 16 release date was September 13 — starting from this day, users can get a free update and enjoy brand new iOS 16 features. 

Previously, we covered some of this mobile operating system highlights when they were revealed during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2022. Unlike the changes brought about by the previous system versions, this upgrade isn’t a ground-shifting novelty for the mobile industry. App marketers can breathe out, delight in user-centered features like everyone else — and spot new opportunities to promote their apps’ content.

Read this quick recap to understand what the mobile world should expect from iOS 16 new features.

iOS 16 Key Features: Focus on Personalization, Collaboration, and Privacy

The motto of iOS 16 is “personal is powerful”, states the official page of the update on Apple’s website. Indeed, customization under users’ preferences is at the forefront of this upgrade, and some of these personalization features can become a mobile marketing asset as well.

Key Personalization iOS 16 Features

What’s New:

  • Reimagined Lock Screen
  • Updated Focus
  • Live Activities
  • App Clips Updates
  • Live Text

The re-imagination of Lock Screens is one of the biggest changes that took place with iOS 16. Any iPhone owner can customize multiple Lock Screens to their heart’s content by playing with the color palette, fonts, different images and app widgets. The feature opens up new engagement opportunities for those developers that embraced widgets as one of the focal points of their apps (weather apps, travel apps, live wallpapers, etc). By the way, Lock Screens can be linked to a Focus of a user’s choice. 

Another way to interact with users — in real time, no less! — is to update notifications for an in-app event via Live Activities. Users don’t have to unlock their iPhones to read your notification — from now on, they can view it right from their Lock Screens. Unfortunately, this feature didn’t become available with the official iOS 16 release and will come later this year. When Live Activities are launched, App Clips will be able to integrate them. 

Since we’ve mentioned App Clips, it’s worth noting that they got some perks of their own. These mini versions of apps will have a greater size limit (50%), so the users will be able to experience them on a whole new level. App Clips are also getting their own Diagnostic Tool. For developers, it means they’ll be able to test App Clips quicker and smoother.

There are more “live” features to take delight in, like this big improvement of Live Texts that empowered everyone to interact with video texts. If your app’s content heavily relies on videos, this might be a great time to try out a Live Text API.

Key Payment iOS 16 Features

What’s New:

  • Apple Pay Later
  • Subscription Changes Alerts
  • StoreKit2 Updates

iOS 16 introduced a convenient service known as Apple Pay Later. It allows you to break the cost of literally anything you buy with Apple Pay into four installments spread over six weeks. This is great news not only for a regular shopper, but also for some mobile publishers. Swaying users to buy your app subscription/virtual currency/etc. can become simpler as they feel more confident about spending their money.

Speaking of subscriptions: starting from this upgrade, users will be getting special alerts from Apple if the subscription price for apps they use changes. They will be sent via email, push notifications, and in-app messages. 

There are also some enhancements on the developers’ side. StoreKit2 updates are about to change subscription and in-app purchases management for the better. They include:

  • AppTransaction API, both a fraud prevention measure and your users’ friendly guardian making sure they never lose access to the app if you’ve redesigned your business model.
  • StoreKit Message API, that one API that will alert users if you change app subscription plans. 
  • SwiftUI API has two tricks up its sleeve. First, mobile developers can set up a special sheet and ask users to review an app/game. Second, they can opt for creating custom codes in App Store Connect and approach former users with a special offer of cutting down their subscription (for a limited time).
  • New StoreKit2 properties: Server Environment, Recent Subscription Start Date, Price Locale.

Key Communication iOS 16 Features

What’s New:

  • Misspelling Edits
  • Family Sharing Updates
  • Family Checklist
  • SharePlay Updates
  • Game Center Push Notifications

Do you know what’s the real gem of iOS 16? We can finally say goodbye to incorrect messages! iOS 16 allows you to edit an awkward misspelling within 15 minutes after sending. So one can say that communication got instantly better thanks to this update!

However, it isn’t the only communication aspect to admire in iOS 16. We’re going to focus on those features that may have an impact on the mobile app world.

The parental control over the content kids consume will be easier to manifest. For instance, the newest feature in Family Sharing will provide you with recommendations on access to apps by taking into account the age of your child — and Family Checklist will remind parents of updating the settings as their children grow older.

Updated SharePlay will prompt users to share content not only via FaceTime, but also via iMessages and the share sheet. Some apps will find this improvement a great asset to highlight their content and boost engagement.

Game Center comes with push notifications and a redesigned dashboard where users can see their friends’ activities and achievements. Game developers and mobile marketers can potentially turn this update to their benefit and attract new users to their apps

Key Privacy and Safety iOS 16 Features

What’s New:

  • Safety Check
  • Passkeys
  • Privacy History in the Control Center

iOS 16 keeps handling user information with care. What’s more, there are some new features that ensure your safety in emergency situations. Safety Check will instantly sign you out of iCloud on all your devices, see what apps/people have access to your devices and take it away. All you need to do is to click on the emergency reset.  

Another big revelation is that iOS 16 marks the transition from creating intricate passwords to using Passkeysspecial digital keys users can set up for any app or website. They are significantly safer than your typical passwords: Passkeys never leave the device, they are kept in iCloud’s Keychain instead of a web server and synced across all your devices. 

This isn’t the end of privacy-safeguarding features: there’s also a brand new option to view Privacy history in the Control Center. By doing so, you can learn more about apps that have recently gained access to your location, camera, and microphone. 

SKAdNetwork 4.0 and Benchmarks Release Is Delayed

During WWDC22, we got to know that SKAdNetwork, Apple’s privacy-keeping mobile install attribution framework, will be modified up to its 4.0 version. Some expected its release to be on the same day with iOS 16, but we’ll have to wait for the modifications a bit longer.

Meanwhile, here’s a little reminder of what SKAdNetwork 4.0 is going to look like:

  • Hierarchical source ID will stand in for campaign IDs. One will be able to include up to four digits in the postback depending on the installs number and the user privacy level for a specific campaign. The digits from source ID will revolve around “Crowd Anonymity”, a privacy entry gate. 
  • Multiple conversions will allow you to receive up to three postbacks for specific conversion windows (0-2 days, 3-7 days, and 8-35 days). 
  • Aside from a fine-grained hierarchical conversion value, there will be a coarse-grained one providing you with limited data for a campaign with a low app installs number.
  • Attribution of web-based ads will become a reality. 

There’s another anticipated feature — now in App Analytics — that will be released only next year. App Benchmarks will shed light on how your app is doing against its competitors in terms of a specific peer group.

New Apple Search Ads Placements Come Later This Year

Late in July Apple revealed that it is expanding its ad placements. While mobile marketers still have to wait for them (they are about to launch later this year), we share what we know about these changes in Apple Search Ads to help you prepare for the big rollout.

There will be two additional ad opportunities.

The first ad opportunity will literally give you a prime spot on the App Store Today page. It will enable developers to promote apps right next to the content handpicked by the App Store editorial team for the Today tab

Another ad spot will be part of individual app product pages. Ads will pop up under the “You Might Also Like” header

The new ad slots are not just an opportunity to get more traffic to your app but an opportunity to engage with users in different touchpoints of their journey.

SplitMetrics Acquire, an Apple Search Ads partner, will keep you posted about the upcoming ad placements and product updates connected with them. To be more informed, make sure our special App Growth Point about these App Store new ad placements.

The Bottom Line

This system upgrade places emphasis on Apple’s principles: user customization becomes the primary focus and privacy of iOS 16 supported devices owners has already become a landmark in the industry. 

While at first glance it seems like iOS 16 is a feast for users’ eyes only, mobile marketers and developers can benefit from studying the hidden opportunities of the update, such as Live Activities, Lock Screen, StoreKit2 improvements, and others. And this isn’t the end of the news: SKAdNetwork 4.0, new ad placements in Apple Search Ads, and other exciting features are on their way. We’re going to cover the updates as soon as they appear. Stay tuned!