iOS 16.4 is rolling out now – here are 7 ways it will improve your iPhone

It’s looking like iOS 17 will be a bigger iPhone update than we initially thought, but before that lands, let’s look forward to iOS 16.4 – and that update has just started rolling out.

Of course, iOS 16.4’s changes are a bit more incremental than the larger ones we saw in iOS 16, which launched in September 2022 and delivered a revamped Home app, new lock screen features, and some fresh fonts and themes.

But there are some notable improvements in iOS 16.4, especially if you’re a fan of Apple’s Podcasts or Shortcuts apps, new emojis, or keeping up with the latest news. The update also promises clearer phone calls and some HomeKit tweaks that should make it more reliable when controlling your compatible smart home tech.

Combine all of these upgrades with the recent announcement of Apple Music Classical, coming March 28th, and iPhone fans are in for some pretty tasty upgrades in the coming days. Here are the seven biggest upgrades in iOS 16.4 to watch out for when it comes out this week.

iOS 16.4 release date: when will it be available?

We knew iOS 16.4 would be rolling out this week because a release candidate version was handed to beta testers on March 21st. And indeed, the software update has only just begun.

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With Apple Music Classical now coming to some iPhones as well, as we head towards its March 28 release, Apple fans have some new goodies to try.

If you like the sound of the latter and you still don’t see the iOS 16.4 update, fear not that it only needs to be running iOS 15.4 or later.

7 new features for your iPhone in iOS 16.41. Push notifications from web apps

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If you want to keep up with the latest news from your favorite web apps – which reside in your browser rather than the home screen – then iOS 16.4 could be a handy update for you.

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You can already add web app shortcuts to your home screen (just tap the arrow button at the top right of the website, then select “Add to home screen”). But unlike native apps, these shortcuts couldn’t send your push notifications – this will change in iOS 16.4.

If you allow notifications, they appear just like those for apps you have installed, including on your lock screen, in Notification Center, and on a paired Apple Watch if you have one. Interestingly, you can also add web apps from third-party browsers (rather than just Safari) to your home screen.

It’s a feature that can get overwhelming if you give too many permissions, but you can manage it in the Notifications settings menu.

2. A lot of new emojis

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You can never have too many emojis to choose from — and thankfully, iOS 16.4 adds 21 new options to our messaging arsenals.

Appropriately for our troubled times, we’re getting a shaking face emoji that looks handy for expressing shock or confusion over disturbing news. Fans of animal emojis will also get their money’s worth in iOS 16.4, because a donkey, a moose, a goose and a jellyfish join the fray.

A slightly antagonistic “shake hand” emoji will also appear to help you quickly dismiss suggestions, while a range of new hearts (including pink, gray, and light blue) will be on hand to help you deal with any insult you throw just caused to fix again.

3. Clearer cell phone calls

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Perhaps the biggest quality of life upgrade coming with iOS 16.4 is voice isolation for cellular calls, which helps reduce ambient noise during your calls.

This feature is already available in apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime, which you’ve probably noticed tend to sound better than cellular calls. But now it’s finally coming to cellular calling – to access it, all you have to do is swipe down from the top-right of the screen (to access Control Center), tap Microphone mode, then Voice Isolation.

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Apple has also confirmed that Voice Isolation will be compatible with any iPhone model released alongside or after the iPhone SE (2020), meaning most of the best iPhones will benefit too.

4. An improved podcasts app

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If you feed your podcast habit mostly in Apple’s default Podcasts app rather than third-party ones, you’ll notice some small improvements to the overall experience in iOS 16.4.

First, it becomes easier to find shows that are part of larger channels or networks. If you’re following a show that’s part of a channel (e.g. a network that produces multiple shows, like Bloomberg or the BBC), you’ll be able to see it in a new dedicated channel section in your podcast library.

That’s handy since many podcasts are now part of larger networks that produce multiple shows on similar topics. When you tap on a channel, at the top you’ll see the shows you’re following and any subscription options available for that network.

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Elsewhere, the app’s “Up Next” queue has other options to help you manage it. These include the option to dismiss an Up Next episode or touch and hold to view its artwork.

Finally, if you’re listening to the Podcasts app while commuting in your car, you can also access your Next and Recently Played queues in the Listen Now section of CarPlay. A revamped Browse tab also shows you handpicked podcast recommendations to help you find your next podcast addiction.

5. A boost for Apple HomeKit

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If you’ve found Apple HomeKit to be a little buggy and consistent with certain devices, iOS 16.4 could deliver improved performance.

According to MacRumors (opens in new tab), the software includes a HomeKit architecture update that was removed from iOS 16.2 due to some additional bugs it unfortunately introduced.

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But the HomeKit update, which Apple first announced at the launch of iOS 16, will apparently return in iOS 16.4, promising more reliable communication between your Apple devices and your smart home kit.

The release also includes support for manual and automatic software updates for Matter accessories being rolled out by companies like IKEA. This means you should be able to update this accessory in Apple’s Home app.

6. New options for shortcuts

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Apple’s Shortcuts app lets you combine multiple actions from different apps with one tap. For example, you could make one that turns on your iPhone’s Do Not Disturb feature and then automatically turns it off when you leave a certain location.

In iOS 16.4, Apple is adding a lot more options to these shortcuts so you can create some new automation recipes. Some of the new “Actions” include locking your device’s screen, shutting it down, setting up a VPN, muting unknown callers, or automatically triggering Night Shift, which automatically shifts your screen’s colors to the warmer end of the spectrum around it easier to make your eyes.

These features can also be useful if your favorite app is missing a certain option in the settings menu, as they allow you to automate an action (e.g. “Set True Tone”) when the app is opened.

7. Apple Books Animations

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This is strictly for fans of the Apple Books app, so it’s a little niche. But if that’s you, with iOS 16.4 Apple is bringing back an oddly satisfying animation to the app — the “curl” page-turning effect.

For some reason, this animation – which mimics a page turning – was removed in iOS 16. But if you missed turning your digital pages in the Books app, you’ll be happy to know that this effect returns after upgrading to iOS 16.4.