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iOS 16 and watchOS 9: Apple releases updates for iPhones and Watches

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Big release day at Apple: iPhones get a flexible lock screen, watches a power-saving mode. iPad and Mac users will have to be patient.


Apple released two major operating system updates on Monday evening: iOS 16 and watchOS 9 can now be downloaded in the final version via the integrated software update.

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iOS 16 supports all iPhone models from 2017, which goes back to iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The new system version does not run on iPhone 7 (Plus), 6s (Plus) and the SE of the first generation. watchOS 9 does not support the Apple Watch Series 3, a Series 4 is the new minimum requirement. To install watchOS 9, the companion iPhone must already be running iOS 16. Anyone who owns a new watch but an old iPhone that no longer runs iOS 16 cannot import the smartwatch update.

iOS 16 allows the iPhone lock screen to be extensively customized: users can set up automatically changing background images with various effects and use widgets, and even the font and color of the clock can be changed. It is also possible to create multiple lock screens and switch between them – also in combination with a focus mode.

In addition, the update offers many innovations in apps and services. This includes an option to edit and delete iMessages afterwards as well as the delayed sending of e-mails with Apple Mail and the creation of intelligent folders for the note collection. iOS 16 also introduces Apple’s “Lockdown” anti-spyware feature and support for passwordless sign-in with Passkeys. In Health, users can create a medication list and log the intake – the Apple Watch also helps with this.

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A new feature on all iPhones is the “Fitness” app, which aims to motivate people to close the exercise ring – and collects activity data via iPhone sensors as well as workouts in other apps with HealthKit support.

iOS 16 beta hands-on (9 images)

Widgets right on the lock screen – only the always-on display is still missing from the iPhone.

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Apple intends to add some functions such as the shared iCloud photo library and support for the Matter smart home standard at a later date.


The new version 9 of watchOS adds a power saving mode that Apple says can double the battery life of the watch. To do this, many functions are switched off or limited, ranging from the deactivated always-on display to limited measurements of the heart rhythm, for example, to limited WiFi and mobile phone connections. Far away from the companion iPhone, new messages can therefore arrive up to an hour late.


The watchOS update also includes three new watch faces, many updated older watch faces, and unlocks the Nike watch faces for all watches.

Apple Watches from Series 5 also get a new compass app that allows you to set waypoints. A GPS-supported backtrack function should lead back to the starting point of a tour via the route taken (from Series 6). Apple presented these functions prominently with the new Apple Watch Ultra, and they work the same way on all other watches – including new complication complications for the dial.

watchOS 9 also measures sleep phases and allows extensive customization of the data fields for workouts, supports heart rate zones and, for the first time, allows you to create your own training units, such as intervals.

Both iOS 16 and watchOS 9 should eliminate a long series of security vulnerabilities, Apple will probably publish details shortly. With iOS 15.7, a new version of iOS 15 is also in preparation. Apple has not yet announced whether the older version of the operating system will also receive further security updates.

For the first time, Apple is separating the release date of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16: The iPad operating system will remain in beta testing for the time being and will only be released as version 16.1 in October – probably parallel to macOS 13 Ventura. The reason for the delay is probably the significant iPad stability problems with the central innovation “Stage Manager”. In the past, the manufacturer only delivered macOS updates after the major iOS updates.


Apple also released iOS 15.7 on Monday evening. Similar to last year, iPhone users can stay on the older version for now — or scroll down in Software Update and install iOS 16.0. For iPads, iPadOS 15.7 is available for download. Apple updates macOS Monterey to 12.6, macOS Big Sur to 11.7, the new versions provide security improvements. There is no longer a security update available for macOS 10.15 Catalina.


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