iPhone 14 with always-on screen
The always-on display is a great addition to iPhone’s arsenal of features. But it’s not new.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

People like to take sides on things that aren't really important. Are you a fan of the Apple device? It's cool. Are you more comfortable with the phone? It can be used in a good way.

We live in a competitive society, and so the one company that makes phones that are powered by Apple's App Store always feels that they need to explain why their product is more spectacular, more flexible, more secure, and more fun. Whenever a feature is introduced to its OS, the company proclaims it to be innovative, wonderful, and never seen before. Anyone who has attended or watched a product introduction is aware of what I am referring to.

Apple has a history of taking a long time to develop features that other companies were quick to jump on. You can almost set your watch to the meme about how iPhone users are always late to the party of ideas they might think are completely new if they take Apple's word for it.

Again, we are here. The latest version of Apple's operating system is called iOS 16. Improvements and new features will either be useful or fun. Many of these features are coming to older models of the phone, while some are limited to the new device.

Some of them are already familiar to users of the mobile operating system. Some of the features that Apple is now offering are the same features that Android has had for a long time.

Multiple stops in maps

If you take a short side trip after visiting your aunt, you can stop in at your favorite bookstore. Don't want to lose yourself? If you add the address of the bookstore to your trip agenda, you can get directions that will take you to the bookstore and back.

It is a very useful feature that has been in the operating system for a long time. Apple Maps has certainly come a long way since its disastrous launch 10 years ago, but the potholes in the path along its development have been like this one.

  • <em>iOS 16 now lets you add stops along your route.</em> iOS 16 now lets you add stops along your route.
  • <em>Android has let you add stops for a while.</em> Android has let you add stops for a while.

Email: schedule, undo, remind later, and follow-up

If you accidentally send an email with someone else's name on it, you have 10 seconds to change your mind. If you want to remind yourself of an email you don't want to deal with immediately, you can schedule an email to be sent.

  • <em>The Undo Send at the bottom of the screen lets you change your mind — if your recipient also has iOS 16.</em> The Undo Send at the bottom of the screen lets you change your mind — if your recipient also has iOS 16.
  • <em>The Mail app can remind you to read an email.</em> The Mail app can remind you to read an email.
  • <em>You can now schedule an email to go out when you want it to.</em> You can now schedule an email to go out when you want it to.

You can change your mind by setting the time in Gmail's web app. If you want an email to be sent when you want it, you can snooze it.

  • <em>You can stop an email before it is sent by hitting Undo.</em> You can stop an email before it is sent by hitting Undo.
  • <em>If you don’t want to deal with an email immediately, you can Snooze it.</em> If you don’t want to deal with an email immediately, you can Snooze it.
  • <em>You can schedule an email so it is sent later.</em> You can schedule an email so it is sent later.

Apple Live Captions

Real-time transcription for videos, audio, and conversation has been added to LiveCaptions. For people with hearing disabilities and anyone who needs to track a conversation, this feature is very useful.

Although the accuracy of those translations will probably not live up to those of a human translator, the Live Caption function has been available on the platform for a long time. Even if Apple is late on this, it is still a win for accessibility and for watching videos on your phone when you can't pick up your earbuds.

Haptic feedback on keyboard

The lack of feedback you get while tapping is one of the reasons typing on a phone is so bad. It is nice to know when you have typed a letter on an onscreen board if you have a mechanical keyboard. Haptic feedback has been added to the onscreen keyboard in the latest iteration of the operating system. We can't remember how long it's been for, but it's been as long as we can remember.

The main difference is that you have to enable it in the operating system, but it can be disabled if you prefer. Let's chalk this one up to how long it's taken and we'll be sure to sing from the rafters that iPhone users now have this basic function.

  • <em>iOS 16 now offers haptic keyboard feedback.</em> iOS 16 now offers haptic keyboard feedback.
  • <em>Android’s Gboard keyboard uses haptics by default.</em> Android’s Gboard keyboard uses haptics by default.

Shared libraries

You will be able to create a shared photo library based on who is in the photo and when. It's possible to share your photo library with more than one person. You might need to wait a bit for this feature to ship. You can share your entire collection with a single partner based on a starting date or who is in the photos.

Always-on display

This is a big deal. Only the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will have an always-on display, which was introduced at the Apple event. Even when the phone is asleep, the always-on displays allow you to see the time and other useful information. Since the Series 5, Apple Watch users have been able to get it, but now it is only available on the Pro models.

For the better part of a decade, this has been a feature of the phones. When the phone's screen is not being used, the always-on display will show a big digital clock. All this time, every Apple device has been a lifeless black rectangular until it is touched or when a notification comes in.

At this point, Apple's new always-on display on the iPhone is more user-friendly and colorful than what you see on other phones with similar features. An always-on display is going to drain a little more battery than keeping the screen off, but in most phones it is not a big deal. We are happy that we will soon see less black mirrors on tables and desks.

iPhone 14 with always-on screen
The always-on display of the iPhone 14 Pro.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

Phone fitness app

If you don't own an Apple Watch, you can't use the official Apple Fitness Plus app to measure your fitness. You can use the Apple Fitness Plus app even if you don't have an Apple watch.

Even if you don't use a watch, the Fit fitness app is always available on your phone. You can argue that there are few watches that are worth fretting about unless you are a fan of the brand. It is still good for anyone to be able to get a basic estimation of steps walked, calories burned, etc., without the assistance of a Wearable.

  • <em>Apple’s Fitness app can now be used without a Watch.</em> Apple’s Fitness app can now be used without a Watch.
  • <em>Android’s Fit app has never required an associated device.</em> Android’s Fit app has never required an associated device.

Lock screen widgets

If the app developer gives you one, you can add up to fourWidgets to your lock screen.

About 10 years ago, the lock screenwidgets were offered in the 4.2 version of the software, but they were taken away again in the 5th edition. It's up to you if we should count this or not.

It is possible that Apple's track record of sitting on ideas until they are fully baked will come to fruition here. Maybe it will be an odd quirk only used by some of us and beloved by others.

Crash detection

Apple's presentation on September 7th felt like a lesson in "Why you should be scared", with its emphasis on features that would summon help if you were lost in the wilderness, or had a heart attack. Car crash detection is available in both the new Apple Watch Series 8 and the new iPhones.

Car crash detection is included in the Personal Safety app on the Pixel phones.

High-megapixel camera sensor with pixel binning

A better camera is the reason many people choose to upgrade to a newer phone model, and for years, many manufacturers were dead-set on using 12-megapixel sensors while performing as many software tricks as possible. Major players have recently started increasing the resolution of their main camera sensors to around 40 or 50MIPs, not because we all need massive image files, but because capturing all that information and sizing it down to a "normal" image helps with artifacts It's part of the latest software tactics being used to make our tiny smartphone sensors over-perform and rival what some dedicated cameras can do.

The technique is called pixel binning and is used to improve image quality. If you don't need the native resolution of the high-resolution sensor, it's a great feature. There was a degree of this done by the Pure View of the 808. It isn't a magic trick that fixes everything, it's still reliant on the quality of the image sensor

The iPhone 14 Pro lineup comes in purple, gold, silver, and black.
The iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera definitely shows promise, even if Apple is a little late to the binning party.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

This feature in the main camera of the new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max has been thrown around a lot. It sounds exciting because Apple is good at making things sound exciting, and it could be a significant improvement to the generations. We should keep in mind that, once again, other people were first to use high-res sensors. Apple has a knack for slow-burn development, so we will see if it sets it apart from the rest.