Apple just released the iOS 16.4 beta for developers in mid-February 2023, and it’s an update full of interesting tweaks and new features.
iOS 16 in its vanilla form was already full of new things to try and the latest stable version iOS 16.3 wasn’t that spectacular in terms of new features. At the time of writing, only developers can access the beta, but that should change shortly with the release of a public beta of iOS 16.4. And when that catches on, more people will be able to see changes to apps like music and podcasts, new emojis, and additional always-on display options.
We have listed and explained all features of iOS 16.4 beta below. We’ll keep updating this until the final version is released, so check back soon if there are any new discoveries.
iOS 16.4 beta: new features
Simplified beta opt-in
Installing iOS 16.4 betas gets easier because you can now enable beta updates in your Settings app instead of having to go through a browser first to download the correct device profile. As we’re currently in developer beta, you’ll need a registered developer account to access it, but it’s understood the public beta, which is expected shortly, will also have the option.
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
Apple is introducing 21 new emojis in the new iOS version, in line with the latest batch developed by Unicode, the organization in charge of emojis. This time, users get access to new heart colors, a vibrating smiley face, new flora and fauna like a goose and a hyacinth, and a “pushing hand” that can point left or right and comes in six different skin tones.
(Image credit: Apple)
The Apple Podcasts app has multiple iOS 16.4 upgrades (via AppleInsider (opens in new tab)). There’s now a Channels section in the Library tab that shows you the networks your podcasts belong to, so you can explore others from the same producers.
The Library tab also now shows you how many new episodes of a given series there are, when the last episode was released, and which episodes are subscriber-only.
(Image credit: AppleInsider)
Finally, Up Next now plays saved podcasts by default, even if you’re not following them. That should mean fewer confusing moments when the app doesn’t play podcasts in the order you expect.
While this doesn’t change how you use the app, your iCloud user icon will now appear in the top corner of the Apple Music Library tab (according to 9to5Mac (opens in new tab)), allowing you to quickly open your profile page, to customize your settings. You also now get a shrunken notification when you put a song on Play Next, so you know the action has been registered without taking up as much space as the current one.
Always-on display of battery usage statistics and focus changes
If you have an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max with an always-on display, the iOS 16.4 beta adds a heading for it under the Battery usage heading in the phone’s battery settings, according to the code found by 9to5Mac (will be published in new tab open ). This makes it clear to users how much power the AOD is using, similar to other apps or features, and helps them figure out if it’s worth the power consumption or if they’d rather turn it off to save a bit of juice.
Also, you can now choose whether AOD is enabled or disabled in each focus mode using the focus filter settings. Currently you can only enable/disable AOD globally, with focus modes like Do Not Disturb not being able to use a separate setting.
Web apps and push notifications
Announced by the WebKit blog (opens in new tab), the official source of information on Apple’s developer browser toolkit, Apple is letting web app developers send push notifications to users (provided users allow the correct permissions) and notification badges show on-screen shortcuts on your home. That means when you save a Safari shortcut for a specific service, it now behaves more like a native iOS app, instead of requiring you to constantly check for updates.
(Image credit: WebKit blog)
Also, you can now save browser shortcuts on the home screen that are not included with Safari. This is great news for anyone who prefers Chrome, Firefox, or others to the iPhone’s built-in browser.
New shortcut settings
Apple’s Shortcuts app has added some new options for automation. Here are the new things you can control who found them first via user iBanks3 on Reddit’s r/shortcuts (opens in new tab).
Mute Unknown Callers Set Stage Manager Set True Tone Announce Notifications Shutdown Lock Screen Show Always On Display Intercom Set VPN Set Airdrop Reception Set Night Shift Automatically answer calls
New Home app architecture reintroduced
In iOS 16.2, Apple launched its new Home app overhaul, but it was later removed due to compatibility issues. The option to update your Home app has now returned in the iOS 16.4 beta, although Apple will pull it again to continue working on the bugs that are causing problems.
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