3 Things iOS 16 Might Tell Us About the iPhone 14 Commentary: Apple's next iPhone is likely still months away, but iOS 16 might be dropping hints about what's coming.

Apple’s next big iPhone operating system, iOS 16was previewed WWDC and is available immediately download for developers. The new iPhone update works on iPhone 8 and newer and probably next to start Rumored iPhone 14 this autumn. iOS 16 brings a number of highly requested features such as: Customize your lock screen or Edit sent iMessages. But if you look closely, iOS 16 could also give some clues to the iPhone 14.

While Apple told us a lot about new features coming to current iPhones, any specific mention of what to expect from the iPhone 14 was absent. This is not surprising; Apple never talks about new products before they announce them. Sometimes the company reserves certain software announcements for its annual iPhone event so that it can showcase those features exclusively for the latest iPhone.

For example, Cinema mode was absent from Apple’s iOS 15 announcement and was instead introduced as an iPhone 13 feature in the fall. However, if you look closely, there have been some subtle hints in iOS 15 since Apple’s launch Portrait mode for FaceTime calls in iOS 15it’s easy to imagine Apple creating a Portrait mode for video recording – which is essentially Cinematic mode.

iOS 16 doesn’t appear to be any different. Several features appear to have the potential to provide clues as to what we might expect from the iPhone 14 series. One of those clues is actually buried in the code for iOS 16.

The iPhone 14 may have an always-on display

I was disappointed to see that Apple didn’t add an always-on display to iOS 16. It’s a handy feature found on numerous Android phones and even the Apple Watch. An always-on display shows basic information like the time or the weather while your phone is idle. Instead of illuminating your entire display like your lock screen does, an always-on display only wakes up part of the screen to save power. It’s a great convenience and would make the iPhone more eye-friendly.

Apple-focused site 9to5Mac reports that it has spotted several references in iOS 16 that suggest support for an always-on display could be in the future of iPhones. The blog found references to backlight management tools, as well as hidden flags for engineers that might allow them to test the feature on an iPhone 13 Pro.

always on display

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro has an always-on display that shows the date, time, battery life and an avatar of an astronaut.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Support for always-on displays might be limited, however, as the screen’s refresh rate would need to drop to 10Hz or even lower to consume less power. well below the typical 60Hz refresh rate of the regular iPhone. The always-on display for the Apple Watch operates at 1Hz, which isn’t supported on any current iPhone (the 13 Pro can go down to 10Hz), and that could mean it’s since been supported on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max debuting would likely require new hardware.

Even without these hints in the code, the revamped and customizable lock screen suggests an always-on display. In particular, the way iOS 16 notifications appear at the bottom of the screen makes me wonder if Apple is experimenting with ways to conserve screen real estate. This is important for an always-on display, as this feature only uses certain parts of the screen to save power.

iOS 16’s new lock screen widgets are another potential clue, as they feel more like Apple Watch complications and are therefore more visible. Some Android phones have similar widgets on their own always-on displays.

During WWDC, Apple showed someone tapping and holding the dog in a photo, lifting it out of the background to share a message. It’s part of a revamped visual search.


Visual Lookup could mean a more powerful Cinematic mode

One of the more subtle features of iOS 16 is the revamped visual search, which can identify objects, people, pets, and landmarks in photos and provide additional information or context. A nifty addition this year is the ability to tap on any photo to remove the background. You can literally tap and lift a foreground subject like a person or dog from the background and add the “crop” to other apps to share or create a collage.

I could see the Cinematic mode getting a boost from the machine learning driving it Visual Lookup’s new tap-and-lift tool. This machine learning acceleration combined with a likely new A16 Bionic chip could make videos look better in Cinematic mode. Subjects could be “cut out” more reliably and backgrounds have a more consistent blurred appearance. Apple could also use the separation technology to get Cinema mode to do more things similar to Portrait mode, like: B. replacing the background with a black color or placing your subject in front of a white background.

Cinematic mode made its debut on the iPhone 13 series and is basically Apple’s take on a portrait mode for video. While Cinematic Mode is fun, the results can be good or bad. It’s reminiscent of when Apple introduced Portrait mode with the iPhone 7 Plus: it worked initially, but wasn’t great. Over a number of years, Apple has improved Portrait mode to the point where it’s actually quite wonderful.

A pro mode for the camera app

Without reading a single rumor, one might guess that the cameras of the iPhone 14 series will be better than those of the iPhone 13 series. Many of these improvements will likely come from computer-aided photography features such as SmartHDR and Deep Fusion, which directly correlate to the chip that powers the phone. So an iPhone 14 running on an A16 chip would theoretically have new camera features or improved photo processing techniques that the iPhone 13 lacks.

Apple’s addition of a customizable lock screen in iOS 16 gives me hope for an overhaul of the camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. New professional features like ProRaw and ProRes video recording can make the camera app interface feel a bit cramped. Perhaps there could be a Pro mode that can be toggled on and off and offers shortcuts for tweaking camera settings on the fly. Or maybe Apple is cleaning up the camera app’s UI to make it more visually appealing.

Apple ProRes toggle shown on the display of an iPhone 13 Pro

Apple ProRes debuted on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max in 2021.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone still has one of the best camera apps on any phone sold today. But much like a family can outgrow a house, the number of features and modes gradually grows beyond the app’s original intent.

This is all speculation, however, and we won’t know anything about the next iPhone until Apple announces it. But if there’s one certainty, it’s that iOS 16 is running.

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