No iOS 17? No Worries. Check Out the Coolest Hidden Features of iOS 16
If you can't update to iOS 17 or are waiting, iOS 16 holds a ton of great features you might not know about.
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Apple's latest operating system update for the iPhone -- iOS 17 -- was released on Monday, and you can download and install it now... if you have an iPhone that supports it. If you've got an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, you're out of luck, but don't worry -- you can still access most of the coolest features of your iPhone using iOS 16.
I'll walk you through everything you need to know about the best lesser-known features in iOS 16, like password-protected photo albums, easily accessible Wi-Fi passwords and how to use Face ID when you're lying down.
Apple has allowed iOS users to share Wi-Fi passwords for a while now, but only by placing two Apple devices near each other. And if that feature didn't automatically work, you couldn't just dig out the password from your settings. Plus if you wanted to share a saved Wi-Fi password with someone else, like an Android user or someone on a computer, you had to remember the password. Until now.
In Settings, go to Wi-Fi and tap the tiny information icon to the right of the network you want the password for. To view the network password, tap the Password section and then use Face ID or enter your passcode to view it. You can then tap Copy to copy the password into your clipboard and share it.
The credit card-sized Anker 622 not only attaches to your MagSafe-compatible iPhone to give it a charge but also has a built-in kickstand so that you can comfortably view and use your device while it gets juice.
Maybe you've saved the same photo multiple times or downloaded a video more than once, resulting in duplicates littering up your photo album. It may not be a problem if you've got storage to spare, but you're running out of space, you can now remove every single duplicate easily with iOS 16.
In Photos > Albums, you should see a new Duplicates album under Utilities. Apple scans through all of your photos and shows you any photo or video you've saved more than once in that album. From there, you can either delete any duplicates, or simply press Merge, which will keep the photo with the highest quality (and relevant data) and then move the others to the trash.
Although you'll probably want to go through each set of duplicates, to ensure that they're actually exact copies and not similar photos, you can also hit Select > Select All > Merge to remove every single photo and video that Apple thinks is a duplicate, all at once.
Use Siri to hang up a phone call or FaceTime
Siri does a lot of things. You can use the virtual assistant to send a text message, get directions or play music -- but one thing she's never been able to do is hang up a phone call. Weird right? Now that's finally a possibility with iOS 16.
In Settings, go to Siri & Search and first make sure Listen for "Hey Siri" is toggled on. If it is, you should see a new option underneath -- Call Hang Up. Go into that option and toggle on Call Hang Up. When you're on a phone call or FaceTime video chat, simply say, "Hey, Siri," and ask her to hang up your current call.
Pair Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with your iPhone
Apple has long allowed you to pair third-party controllers, like the PS5 Sony DualSense and Xbox Core Controller, to your iPhone and iPad, in order to more comfortably play mobile video games like the Apple Arcade library, Minecraft and Call of Duty. Now you can add another console controller to that list.
If you own a Nintendo Switch, you can now pair your Joy-Con controllers to your iPhone or iPad running iOS 16. To start, hold down the little black pairing button on the Joy-Con, until the green lights start running back and forth. This means the device is in pairing mode. Next, open your iPhone and go to Settings > Bluetooth and select the Joy-Con from the list. Repeat this step with the other Joy-Con.
Watch this: iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed
Password protect Hidden and Recently Deleted albums
The Hidden album in the Photos app is clearly not hidden, seeing as anyone can easily find it. That makes it impractical for adequately hiding private photos and videos. While Apple does have an option to make the Hidden album "invisible," anyone with access to your phone could make it visible again and view everything inside.
Thanks to iOS 16, you can now lock the Hidden album. You don't actually need to do anything to toggle this feature on. If you want to check it out, launch the Photos app and go to the Albums tab at the bottom of the screen. If you scroll down, you'll see a tiny lock next to the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums. To view the contents of those albums, you'll need to use Face ID or your passcode.
Copy and paste photo and video edits
If you use the editor tool in the Photos app, you'll be happy to learn that you can now copy and paste edits, including saturation, contrast and brightness, between photos. If you edit one photo or video and are happy with the look, you can paste those same exact edits to any other photo or video in your camera roll.
To do this, launch the Photos app and open a photo that's been edited in full-screen. Next, tap on the three-dot menu in the top-right corner and then hit Copy Edits. This option will only appear if the photo has been edited within Photos, not any third-party photo editor. Finally, go to the photo you want to copy these edits over to, tap on the three-dot menu and then hit Paste Edits. After a second or so, you should see the photo edits appear.
Send emojis with Siri
Siri has long been able to send long, complicated text messages and emails by dictation, but with iOS 16, for the first time, you're now able to use your voice to send emojis. As long as you know the name of the emoji, simply say "face with tears of joy emoji" or "red heart emoji" to insert an emoji into your text with Siri.
If you use the keyboard dictation feature in your iPhone's keyboard, accessible at the bottom right of your keyboard (microphone icon), you can also say the emoji name to insert an emoji anywhere you can type text, like in a note or a caption on Instagram.
Add haptic feedback to keyboard typing
The iPhone has long had haptic feedback. It's what you feel underneath your fingertips whenever you attempt to delete an app from your home screen or enter the incorrect password on your lock screen. Strangely enough, haptic feedback has never been available for the stock iOS keyboard -- until now.
If you want to enable a slight vibration for every single key you type in, go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Keyboard Feedback and toggle on Haptic. The sound option you see is the loud and annoying clacking sound you might hear when you type in something and your phone isn't on silent mode, so you can keep that disabled.
Pin your favorite tabs in Safari
Safari caps your open tabs at 500, and if you're nearing that limit, it might be pretty darn hard to find the exact tab you're looking for. You could scroll endlessly, but there's now an easier way to find the exact tab you're looking for.
In Safari, if you press down on an open tab, you now have the option to hit Pin Tab. This will move that tab to the top of Safari, where it will exist as a tiny tab preview, permanently pinned there, which you can then tap to view. If you press down and unpin a tab, it will move to first in your grid of open tabs.
Extend the time you get to cancel an email
It's easy to accidentally send an email, especially when you're multitasking or responding to multiple threads at once. But there's good news: Apple added a feature in iOS 16 that gives you 10 seconds to unsend an email. However, for some, that may not be enough time, which is why you can extend the delay.
In Settings, go into Mail and scroll down until you find Undo Send Delay. By default, the 10 Seconds option will be selected, but you can choose 20 Seconds and 30 Seconds as well.
Use Face ID while you're lying down
If you've ever tried to unlock your iPhone while it's vertical, like when you're lying on your side, you might have noticed that it doesn't work. You have to place your iPhone in portrait orientation, or upright, for Face ID to work. With iOS 16, you can finally use Face ID to unlock your iPhone when it's in landscape orientation. However, for this to work, you must have an iPhone 13 or 14 running iOS 16.
Allow notifications when you share your screen
As a privacy protection measure, Apple automatically disables notifications when you share your screen, whether it's via SharePlay or Screen Mirroring. However, if others seeing your notifications isn't an issue, you can now allow notifications on iOS 16. In the Settings application, go to Notifications > Screen Sharing and toggle on Allow Notifications.
Copy screenshots to your clipboard without saving them
You don't need to save a screenshot to your photo album to share it with someone else. A new iOS 16 feature allows you to take a screenshot, copy it to your clipboard, delete it from your phone and paste it where you see fit. After you take a screenshot, tap the screenshot preview that appears, hit Done on the top-right and then tap Copy and Delete to copy the screenshot to your clipboard.
Remove more preinstalled Apple apps
Since iOS 10, you've been able to remove some preinstalled iOS applications like Stocks, Maps and Calculator -- but not all of them. With the release of iOS 16, you can add three more apps to this list of ones you can remove: Find My, Clock and Health. However, deleting these apps can negatively affect and break support with other apps and connected devices, like your Apple Watch.
Make Siri listen to you longer
If you ever find yourself getting cut off by Siri, there's now a way to force the voice assistant to listen to you longer so that she can catch everything you say. The feature isn't in an obvious place though -- in the Settings app, go to Accessibility > Siri, then choose either Longer or Longest. Play around with the two options to see which works best for you.