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iOS 16 sends iPhone 14 back to 2012 with old Android features and 2032 with jaw-dropping AI tricks

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It’s a bizarre paradox of “old meets new” that only Apple is able to make possible, thanks to the company’s stubborn approach to iPhone customization throughout the years and Cupertino’s growing power of making super-advanced software, hardware and AI work seamlessly together.

iOS 16 – Live wallpapers (Xiaomi)

Live wallpapers are another feature that’s obviously been inspired by Android, as the new animated Earth wallpapers draw inspiration from China’s Xiaomi and MIUI 12, which introduced Super Wallpapers for the first time – a two-year-old party trick that Apple clearly liked enough to bring to iPhone.

iOS 16 – Photo Shuffle and theming with a choice of colors (Huawei and Google)

The new color-adjustment and Photo Shuffle wallpaper options, where the iPhone will be able to show you a brand new wallpaper every time you unlock it, have also been existing on Android for at least five years now, thanks to Huawei’s Magazine Unlock. And the new iOS color-picker is clearly inspired by Google’s Material You design that debuted with Android 12 and Pixel 6.

iOS 16 – Keyboard haptics (Android)

The new Keyboard vibration, or “Keyboard haptics”, as Apple calls it, will probably be my personal favorite iOS 16 update because it allows the iPhone to give you vibration feedback while typing.

This was a huge wasted opportunity on Apple’s part to make use of the iPhone’s best-in-class Taptic engine/vibration motor, but it’s now here. Needless to say, Android phones have supported Keyboard vibration for over a decade.

But iOS 16 also brings amazing new features that Samsung and Google will be jealous of

Sure, we could label iOS 16 as the “Android update”, but that’s fair only to an extent – customisation. That’s about it…

However, Tim Cook & Co also made sure we were met with a handful of surprises, and you better believe that a few of them absolutely blew me away. Apple’s super-powerful A-series of chips and extreme software expertise meet AI and Machine Learning. That’s how I’d describe it. Let’s take a look!

iOS 16 new Sharing features – sharing means caring (and collaborating)

That’s a big one! I’d describe the new sharing features in iOS 16 as teleportation, but there’s more to it… 

For starters, the new iCloud Photo Shared Library allows you to share photos amongst friends and family, but… in a smarter way. Not just a simple shared album, but smart setup rules, which allow you to pick which photos to share based on the people/faces in them or the date.

iPhones running iOS 16 will also be able to send photos you’ve literally just snapped to a chosen friend, right as you take the picture. Teleportation – am I right? You can also edit images in collaboration – everyone has equal permissions to add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete photos from the shared album.

You can also collaborate across shared notes (available since iOS 15) and Safari tabs where everyone can add their own tabs and see the Tab Group update instantly as you work together. So, iOS 16 is big on sharing, communication, and collaboration, if it wasn’t clear! But let’s move on…

Live Text and Live Captions in video

For starters, Live Captions aren’t a totally new thing on phones because Google already introduced an equivalent feature with Pixel 6, thanks to Android 12 and Tensor.

But what we hadn’t seen before is something called Live Text in video. This will allow you to highlight, copy-paste, and even perform tasks like web search – all from the text in your videos. Live Text for photos was already available on iOS 15 and Android 12, but this is a next-level power move from Apple, and I’m here for it.

Note:Apple, I’d love to get a button that lets me choose to turn the feature on/off because I’ve found myself highlighting text in some of my photos when I was just trying to zoom in and out. Please.

Lockscreen To-do lists

This one is as simple as it sounds, and I have to admit that I first confused it for Reminders on your lockscreen, which might not be too far from the truth.

Anyway… iOS 16 and iPhone will allow you to keep To-do lists on your lockscreen, which I find to be a brilliant touch. I like to set reminders and to-do lists, but I almost never open the respective apps when I need to follow up on my tasks, so this could be a game-changer.

Visual lookup drag-and-drop (create PNG stickers in a split second)

And here’s where Apple’s iOS 16 simply flexes in the face of the competition.

Have you ever wanted/needed to create a PNG cutout of yourself or an object? Or even turn something into a sticker (some of my friends use WhatsApp sticker extensions to make this happen)?Well, the new Drag-and-drop feature part of Visual lookup now lets you select a subject/object from a photo with a long-press; your iPhone immediately identifies the subject; creates a cutout, and you’re ready to drop it anywhere you’d like. Magic. No need for Photoshop or sticker generators. The kids will go crazy over this one…

Continuity Camera with Desk view could be the best Apple magic trick I’ve ever seen

And if Visual lookup is magic, the new Continuity Camera and Desk View features within iOS 16 seem like sheer sorcery.

For starters, iOS 16 will make it possible to use your iPhone as your MacBook video camera. No wires, no fiddling around. Although this might seem like a simple thing to do, the reality is that it’s not. But Apple’s surely made it seem simple…

Suppose you wanted to perform a similar trick without Continuity Camera… In that case, you’d either have to hook up your phone/ dedicated camera to your laptop via a cable, or you’d have to purchase a special receiver that sends a signal from a your DSLR to your computer. On top of that, not all video conference apps would be able to use the camera properly, so it can get very messy very quickly.

And now it seems like Tim Cook snapped a finger and made that possible without the need for any external hardware or effort. Prime Apple.

Desk View is the futuristic feature that we never knew we needed

Anyway – you might or might not need to use your iPhone as a MacBook webcam for better quality. But the jaw-dropping new iOS 16 feature which you’ll definitely want to try out is called Desk View.

Desk View uses your iPhone’s ultra-wide-angle camera during video calls (on Mac) to show you what looks like two perfectly independent video streams of:

  • Yourself – centered on screen
  • A top-down view of your desk/working area

Let that sink in…

Although it would make a bit more sense to pull this off using both the primary and ultra-wide cameras, it appears that the iPhone only resorts to its rear ultra-wide-angle lens to make the magic happen. This just makes it more magical.

The practical implication of Desk View in the context of a MacBook call is that you can show what you’re working on while still being in frame and collaborate more efficiently with your colleagues and friends.

But if Desk View is powered just by iPhone and iOS 16, I don’t see why it wouldn’t come to iPhone 14 as a standalone feature. Then you could use it in all sorts of wild scenarios such as unboxing videos, cooking videos, tutorials, etc. It could be a truly powerful tool that’s clearly made possible thanks to some mighty AI algorithms. Prime Apple.

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