3 clues iOS 16 gives us about iPhone 14

3 clues iOS 16 gives us about iPhone 14

iOS 16, the next major version of the iPhone software, var previewed last week. The new operating system will work on iPhone 8 and newer and will probably be launched this fall along with rumored about iPhone 14. iOS 16 is packed with new high-demand features and tools, such as the ability to customize your lock screen or edit sent iMessages. It can also reveal some clues about the iPhone 14 – if you look closely.

While Apple talked a lot about new features coming to current iPhones, it lacked any specific mention of what to expect from the iPhone 14. This is not surprising; Apple never discusses new products before announcing them. Sometimes the company reserves certain software announcements for its annual iPhone event so that it can debut these features as exclusive to the latest iPhone.

For example, Cinematic mode was absent from Apple iOS 15 announcement and instead launched as an iPhone 13 feature in the fall. But if you look closely, there were some subtle tips in iOS 15. Since Apple was launched Portrait mode for FaceTime calls in iOS 15it’s easy to imagine Apple creating a portrait mode for video recording – which is basically what cinematic mode is.

iOS 16 does not seem to be any different. Several features seem to have the potential to provide tips on what to expect for the iPhone 14 series. One of these clues is actually buried in the code for iOS 16.

iPhone 14 may have a screen that is always on

I was disappointed to see it Apple did not add an always-on screen to iOS 16. It’s a handy feature found on many Android phones and even the Apple Watch. A display that is always on shows basic information such as time or weather while the phone is sleeping. Instead of illuminating the entire screen as your lock screen does, an always-on screen activates only part of the screen to save power. It is a great convenience and would make the iPhone more eye-friendly.

The Apple-focused website 9to5Mac reports it discovered several references in iOS 16 that suggest that support for an always-on-screen may exist in the future of the iPhone. The blog found references to backlight management tools as well as hidden flags for engineers that could allow them to test the functionality of an iPhone 13 Pro.

always available

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

Sareena Dayaram / CNET

However, always-on-screen support may be limited as the screen refresh rate must drop to 10 Hz or even lower to use less power; far below the standard iPhone’s typical 60Hz refresh rate. The always-on screen for the Apple Watch works at 1Hz, which is not supported on any current iPhone (13 Pro can go as low as 10Hz) and this may mean that it debuts on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max as it would probably require new hardware.

Even without these clues in the code, the renewed and customizable lock screen also suggests a screen that is always on. Specifically, the way iOS 16 messages are correlated at the bottom of the screen makes me wonder if Apple is experimenting with ways to preserve screen properties. This is important for a screen that is always on because that feature only uses specific 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 manageable. Some Android phones have similar widgets on their own screens that are always on.

During WWDC, Apple showed that someone tapped and held the dog in a photo and lifted it from the background to share a message. It’s part of a renewed Visual Lookup.

Apple

Visual Lookup can mean a more powerful movie mode

One of iOS 16’s more subtle features is the renewed Visual Lookup that can identify objects, people, pets and landmarks in photos and provide additional information or context. A nice addition this year is the ability to print on any image to remove the background. You can literally push and lift a foreground motif like a person or dog away from the background and add the “cutout” to other apps to share or create a collage.

I could see the cinematic mode getting a boost from the machine learning that drives the new tool Visual Lookup tap and lift. That machine learning acceleration in combination with a likely new A16 Bionic chip can make movies in movie mode look better. Subjects can be more reliably “cut out” and backgrounds have a more consistently unfocused appearance. Apple can also use the separation technology to make the movie mode do more things similar to the portrait mode, such as replacing the background with a black color or placing your subject against a white background.

Cinematic mode made its debut on the iPhone 13 series and is basically Apple’s version of a portrait mode for video. Although the cinematic mode is fun to use, the results can be amazing. It is reminiscent of when Apple introduced portrait mode with the iPhone 7 Plus: Initially, it worked but was not good. For several years, Apple has improved the portrait mode to the point that it is actually quite wonderful.

A professional mode for the camera app

Without even reading a single rumor, you can guess that the cameras in the iPhone 14 series will be better than those in the iPhone 13 series. Many of these improvements are likely to come from computational photography-driven features such as SmartHDR and Deep Fusion, which directly correlates with 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 technologies that the iPhone 13 lacks.

Apple’s addition of a customizable lock screen in iOS 16 has made me hope for a review of the camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. New professional features such as ProRaw and ProRes video recording can make the Camera app interface feel a bit cramped. Maybe there is a Pro mode that can be turned on and off and that provides shortcuts to adjust camera settings on the go. Or maybe Apple will clean up the camera app’s interface to make it more visually appealing.

Apple ProRes Switch appears on the display of an iPhone 13 Pro

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

Patrick Holland / CNET

Do not get me wrong, the iPhone still has one of the best camera apps on all the phones sold today. But just as a family can grow out of a house, the number of features and modes begins to grow beyond the app’s original intent.

However, all this is speculation and we will not know anything about the next iPhone until Apple announces it. But if there is one security, it is that it will run iOS 16.

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