Following the release of iOS 16, attention swiftly moved to iOS 16.1. With good reason: as expected, the initial release of iOS 16 did not include all the features that Apple initially announced at WWDC this summer. Some of these were pushed back to iOS 16.1.
Apple released the first beta of iOS 16.1 just two days after iOS 16’s release on Monday, September 12. Typically, iOS betas are released first to developers and then to public beta testers within a day or so. The final public release of iOS 16.1 launches today, October 24.
What’s new in iOS 16.1?
This is the first significant update after iOS 16, and will likely include some of the features not present in that initial release. Here’s what you can expect in iOS 16.1:
iCloud Shared Photo Library: After disappearing from the betas just before the launch of iOS 16, iCloud Shared Photo Library is back. It will be available in iOS and iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura.
Battery percentage indicator: After receiving a fair amount of criticism in the initial release of iOS 16, Apple has tweaked the behavior of the new battery percentage indicator in the status bar. Now the battery icon will gradually fill and empty depending on how much juice is left even with the percentage showing. In iOS 16.0 the icon stayed full until it dipped below 20 percent.
Battery percentage on more phones: When the battery percentage indicator returned in iOS 16, it left out a few phones. The iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini, and iPhone 13 mini could not get the toggle (iPhones without Face ID could always show battery percentage next to the battery icon). With iOS 16.1, all those phones can now enable the feature.
Dynamic Island outline: If you have a very dark background, there is now a gray border around the Dynamic Island when the phone is locked or the Dynamic Island is in use.
Wallet app: The Wallet app can be removed in iOS 16.1. This may have something to do with antitrust scrutiny in the European Union.
Clean Energy Charging: Open Settings > Battery > Battery Health and Charging to find the toggle. Apple describes the feature this way:
In your region, iPhone will try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available. iPhone learns from your daily charging routine so it can reach full charge before you need to use it.
Live Activities: With iOS 16.1, the Live Activities API is available for developers. Apps that use the new feature probably won’t be available in the App Store just yet, though.
Customize Lock screen or Home screen: When you tap “Customize” after a long press on the lock screen, you are now presented with a choice to customize either the lock screen or home screen. There’s a new interface to swap between wallpaper setups in Settings > Wallpaper.
Matter support: The first indication of support for the Matter smart home accessories standard was present in iOS 16.1 beta 1. In Settings > General you’ll find a “Matter Accessories” item, which will eventually list all Matter accessories that have been added to a connected service. The section was later removed in beta 3.
Satellite SOS groundwork: Code in iOS 16.1 appears to lay the groundwork for the forthcoming Satellite SOS feature, including text strings showing features, onboarding, and even a “demo” mode so users can see how it works without actually contacting emergency services. It is unclear if this will be surfaced to the public in 16.1 or a later release.
iOS 16.1 release notes
Here are the official release notes for iOS 16.1:
iCloud Shared Photo Library
- Separate library for seamlessly sharing photos and videos with up to five other people
- Setup rules allow you to easily contribute past photos based on start date or people in the photos when you set up or join a library
- Library filters for quickly switching between viewing the Shared Library, your Personal Library, or both libraries together
- Shared edits and permissions let everyone add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete photos
- Sharing toggle in Camera lets you choose to send photos you take straight to the Shared Library, or enable a setting to share automatically when other participants are detected nearby using Bluetooth
- Live Activities from third party apps are available in the Dynamic Island and on the Lock Screen for iPhone 14 Pro models
- Apple Fitness+ is supported on iPhone even if you don’t have an Apple Watch
- Key sharing enables you to securely share car, hotel room, and other keys in Wallet using messaging apps such as Messages and WhatsApp
- Savings account enables Apple Card customers to grow their Daily Cash by depositing it in a high yield savings account
- Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard, is supported enabling a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems
Clean Energy Charging
- New setting that can try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available
- Reader controls are automatically hidden as you start reading
This update also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:
- Deleted conversations may appear in the conversations list in Messages
- Dynamic Island content is not available when using Reachability
- CarPlay may fail to connect when using a VPN app
Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222.
When will iOS 16.1 be released?
Apple skipped the iPadOS 16.0 release, with the first release of this operating system for iPads to be iPadOS 16.1. After launching new iPad Pro and iPad refreshes, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 will arrive on Monday, October 24, ahead of the ship date for the new iPads.
How to install the iOS 16 Public beta
This is the version of iOS 16 that most of us will be running ahead of launch, since the developer beta is, as the name suggests, for developers only. But the public betas always lag behind the developer ones, and start off significantly later: the first public beta hasn’t been released yet, and isn’t slated to do so until July 2022.
When the public beta of iOS 16 does come out, you’ll be able to install it using the following instructions.
- Click Sign Up on the Apple Beta page and register with your Apple ID.
- Log in to the Beta Software Program.
- Click Enroll your iOS device. (If you signed up for a previous version’s beta last year you may need to uninstall the profile for that and then re-enroll for the new one.)
- Go to beta.apple.com/profile on your iOS device.
- Download and install the configuration profile.
- You may need to jump over to Settings to enable the profile. Go to General > VPN and Device Management and tap on the iOS 16 beta profile there.
- That will make the beta version available in the Settings app, under General > Software Update.
How to install the iOS 16 Developer beta
Each stage of iOS 16’s development cycle will be rolled out to developers first, and then to public beta testers afterwards. If you’re a developer and need to test your apps against the most up-to-date version of the OS possible, this is the version to run.
First check that your device is compatible. Have a quick read of Which iPhones can get iOS 16? (It’s the iPhone 8 and later, basically.)
You’ll need to be registered as an Apple developer. Joining the Apple Developer Program costs $99 a year.
All set? Okay! Here’s how to install the iOS 16 developer beta, in eight easy steps:
- In Safari on your iPhone, go to developer.apple.com and log in using your Apple ID.
- Go to the Downloads section (you’ll find it in the lefthand menu), scroll down to iOS 16 beta and tap Install Profile, then Accept.
- Open the Settings app. You should see Profile Downloaded at the top of the main screen—tap this. If you can’t see it, go to General > VPN and Device Management and tap on the iOS 16 beta profile there.
- Tap Install in the top-right to install the iOS 16 beta profile.
- Read the developer consent form and (assuming you’re happy with the terms) give your consent.
- Restart your iPhone.
- Now go to Settings > General > Software Update, where you should see the iOS 16 beta is available. Tap Download and Install.
- Wait for your iPhone to finish downloading the update, then tap Install when prompted.
And if everything has worked the way it should, your iPhone will now be running the iOS 16 beta.
Risks and precautions
Note first of all that betas are test versions of upcoming software. They are by definition unfinished, and while they should include most or all of the features in the finished product, there will be cosmetic differences and, inevitably, some glitches and problems that will need to be fixed. The glitches and problems are why Apple bothers to beta-test iOS in the first place.
In other words, don’t expect a perfect user experience. In particular, don’t expect existing apps (including ones that you may rely on) to work perfectly with the new version. In extreme cases, you may even find that your device is bricked by the beta, and cannot be used until the next beta comes along and hopefully fixes the problem. It’s not uncommon for early beta software to exhibit problems like excessive battery drain, too.
The closer we get to the final launch of iOS 16, the more polished and feature-complete we can expect the available betas to become. The counter to that, of course, is there will be less time left to wait for the official launch, so you won’t be gaining so much by installing a beta.
Assuming you decide to go ahead, we can’t stress enough how important it is to back up your iPhone before you install an iOS beta, or better still, use a secondary device rather than your main iPhone. You won’t lose everything if something goes wrong while the beta is installing, and you’ll be able to go back to the last version should you find that you don’t like the new software after all, or that it’s too buggy.