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iOS 16.3 coming next week with these new features for iPhone

iOS 16.3 is set to be released next week, according to Apple. This update first entered beta testing in December and includes a handful of changes and features, though it’s a minor update in comparison to other updates from Apple over the last few months.

What’s new in iOS 16.3?

Apple confirmed iOS 16.3’s release date in a press release announcing a number of ways the company is celebrating Black History Month this year. The initiatives include a new Unity wallpaper for iPhone as well as a Unity face for your Apple Watch.

Apple says that both of these things require that your Apple Watch is running watchOS 9.3 and your iPhone is running iOS 16.3. Again, these updates are currently in beta testing, but Apple says everything will be available for update sometime “next week.”

  • The Unity 2023 watch face will be available next week and requires Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 9.3, and iPhone 8 or later and iPhone SE (2nd generation) or later running iOS 16.3.
  • The new Unity iPhone wallpaper for the lock screen will also be available next week and requires iPhone 8 or later running iOS 16.3.

Aside from the new watch face and wallpaper for Black History Month, iOS 16.3 also includes a few other changes and features. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Security Keys for Apple ID: You can now use a physical hardware security key to serve as the second layer of authentication for your Apple ID.
  • Changes to how “Call with Hold” for Emergency SOS works: iPhone will now wait until you release the buttons to call emergency services, even after the countdown.
  • iOS 16.3 beta guides users on how to use Handoff from iPhone to HomePod

As you can see, this is a relatively minor release without too many changes or new features for iPhone users. That’s not necessarily surprising, given that the update hasn’t been in beta testing as long as usual.

Once iOS 16.3 is released, we expect iOS 16.4 beta testing to begin almost immediately after. We’re still waiting on a number of already announced features from Apple: Apple Card Savings Account, Apple Pay Later, Apple Music Classical, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud outside of the United States.

It will also bring two anticipated fixes. One will repair whatever causing horizontal lines to appear when some iPhone 14 devices restart, and it should restore the Home app upgrade that was pulled in December. According to the release notes, several other smaller features and fixes are also part of the update:

  • New Unity wallpaper honors Black history and culture in celebration of Black History Month
  • Security Keys for Apple ID allow users to strengthen the security of their account by requiring a physical security key as part of the two factor authentication sign in process on new devices
  • Emergency SOS calls now require holding the side button with the up or down volume button and then releasing in order to prevent inadvertent emergency calls
  • Fixes an issue in Freeform where some drawing strokes created with Apple Pencil or your finger may not appear on shared boards
  • Addresses an issue where the wallpaper may appear black on the Lock Screen
  • Fixes an issue where the Home Lock Screen widget does not accurately display Home app status
  • Addresses an issue where Siri may not respond properly to music requests
  • Resolves issues where Siri requests in CarPlay may not be understood correctly

The release candidate for iOS 16.3 was released to beta testers on January 18. Wide releases typically come around 10 am PT on a Tuesday or Wednesday, so look for the final release to become available on January 24 or 25.

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