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A Sneak Peek at What’s Next for Your iPhone or Android

Updated operating system software is coming in the fall

an apple logo and an android logo side by side

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If Apple and Google stick to their usual playbooks, they will bring out newly minted iPhones and Pixels in the fall.

But you won’t have to splurge on an expensive replacement for the handset you already carry to enjoy fresh features and a richer smartphone experience. Instead, you’ll be able to spice up your smartphone through free software upgrades.

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This week at its annual conference for developers, Apple provided the first glimpse of iOS 16, the next version of its operating system software for iPhones. Beta versions of iOS 16 will be available for public download in July, though waiting until the final release a couple of months later will be best for most of you.

That’s also roughly the time frame for Android 13, the latest operating system software at the core of Pixels and other Android phones. Google has showcased very early beta versions of the software, but as with iOS, most of you ought to wait for its final release.

Apple says iOS 16 will be compatible with devices back to the iPhone 8, which debuted in September 2017. Google has indicated that Android 13 will work with 2019’s Pixel 4 and later Pixels, not to mention partner devices from ASUS, Lenovo, OnePlus, Tecno, Xiaomi and others. Expect some Samsung Galaxy phones to also get the upgrade eventually.

Here are some of the features you can look forward to. Keep in mind that some iOS and Android features and functions may still be under wraps.

Apple introduces several features

smartphone lock screen


A new "LIve Activities" feature will let you see sports scores on the lock screen of your iPhone.

• Personalize your lock screen. You’ll be able to personalize the lock screen on the iPhone in ways that go beyond changing the wallpaper. By tapping any element on the lock screen, you’ll be able to edit color filters, fonts and background photos on the display, and swipe to sample different styles.

You might add subtle depth effects, such as having a picture of your grandchild appear in front of the time. Or you might shuffle different photos throughout the day. Apple is also adding a Live Activities feature that will let you see sports scores or an Uber driver’s distance in real time. You’ll be able to add widgets that show upcoming appointments, the temperature, battery levels and other at-a-glance information.

• Improve Focus. Last year with the launch of iOS 15, Apple supplied a set of Focus tools to help you better balance your work and personal life and reduce distractions from one or the other. Depending upon the time of day, you can hide or surface certain apps, curtail incoming notifications, designate people or apps who can or can’t reach you except during an emergency, and so on. With iOS 16, Apple is tying Focus settings to the lock screen, with appropriate widgets, photos and corresponding notifications to match the appropriate Focus.

Recall text messages

• Unsend text messages. We’ve all inadvertently sent messages with embarrassing typos. Or worse, sent one to the wrong person. IOS 16 will let you edit the text you just sent in the Messages app or tap Undo Send to recall one before the wrong person actually sees it.

• Use Live Text via video. Apple’s visual recognition Live Text feature is kind of its answer to Google’s Google Lens visual lookup feature. It arrived last year with iOS 15 so that you could extract and digitize text the phone’s camera sees to make it actionable. For example, you could add text to your notes, cut and paste it, look up a phone number and translate foreign words into English.

With iOS 16, Live Text is coming to video. Now you can pause a video to interact in a similar fashion with text that appears in the frame. Moreover, through the visual lookup feature, you’ll be able to tap and hold on the subject in an image and drag that image into the Messages app.

• Pay later via Apple Pay. Soon Apple will let you split the cost of an Apple Pay transaction into four equal payments spread out equally over six weeks. Apple says it won’t charge fees or interest.

• Track medications. The Health app is adding a section where you can track your medications and vitamins. To help build the list, you can scan a drug’s label. You can also schedule times to take your medications, receive reminders and receive alert notifications of potentially dangerous drug interactions based on content licensed from Elsevier, a publisher of health and science information.

Upgraded photo sharing

• Share family photos. You snap numerous precious family photos. But so do your spouse, kids and grandkids. A new iCloud Shared Photo Library feature will let everyone in your family contribute pictures to a library that can be shared with up to five other people. You might share photos based on a particular date or the people in the pictures.

You can manually move photos to this shared library or tap a switch within the Camera to send photos there as you take them. You can also automate the process. Everyone with access has permission to edit or remove pictures.

• Stay safe. You share passwords and data on your phone with a spouse or partner. But if the relationship sours and that person turns abusive, your safety may be at risk.

Apple teamed with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Women’s Services Network to develop a new Safety Check tool found inside the device Settings. It will let you “digitally separate” from abusive partners. You can revoke a user’s access from all the apps and data on your phone, restrict access to your messages and prevent the person from viewing your location.

Android updates will help you personalize

• Enhance privacy. Google is introducing a color-coded Privacy & Security settings page in Android 13 it says will give you more control over your information. Photos & videos and Music & audio categories will replace the vaguer Files and media category. A new photo picker feature will let you select individual photos or videos that you will let an app access without having to share your entire media library with that app.

Meanwhile, the phone will preemptively delete stuff copied onto the device’s clipboard so apps can’t access older information. You can also require apps to seek your permission before they can send you notifications. And users generally will have more say on what apps can see what data.

a screenshot showing the words app language


The new Android update will let you tie your language preferences to specific apps.

• Change languages as desired. If you are multilingual or live in a multilingual household, you may communicate differently depending on circumstances. Inside Settings, you’ll be able to tie your language preferences to specific apps. For example, you might prefer English while using a banking app but use your native language in social media.

• Customize look and feel. When Google overhauled the design of Android 12 last year with what was dubbed Material You, it called it the biggest visual change in the history of Android. The idea was to come up with icon shapes and colors to adhere to your sense of style. It should feel less dramatic this time around, but with Android 13 Google says it will go further with variants designed to accentuate the color scheme you’ve chosen.

On a Pixel, for example, you’ll be able to turn on a “Themed icons” toggle in settings to have supported apps, apart from Google’s own, consistently match the colors you’ve selected. New media controls will feature album art and also match the aesthetics.

Edward C. Baig is a contributing writer who covers technology and other consumer topics. He previously worked for USA Today, BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report and Fortune and is the author of Macs for Dummies and the coauthor of iPhone for Dummies and iPad for Dummies.

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