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These 7 New Features Make Your Lock Screen More Useful

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I’m far from a “tech blogger,” but I am an iPhone user with a keen interest in using my time productively. I’m particularly excited about iOS 16, the recent major software update for iPhone, because many of the new features can help you get stuff done.

But the highlights of iOS 16 aren’t all business. There’s plenty of fun stuff too, and we’ll be taking a look at all of it in today’s post!

The previous posts in my iPhone Hacks series feature a variety of tips, but since many of the main highlights of this update are related to the Lock Screen, that’s what we’ll focus on here too. Learn everything you need to know about your new Lock Screen, including how to customize the fonts and colors, link Focus Modes, and more.

7 Useful New Lock Screen Features On iPhone

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1. Start With A Long Press

To access the myriad new Lock Screen customization features, long press anywhere on your Lock Screen (apart from notifications). The screen will zoom out and you’ll see some new controls and options, including Customize (which lets you edit the current lock screen), and the + button, which allows you to add a new Lock Screen. (You can have several!)

Press the + button to try adding a new one.

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2. Pick A Style

When you create a new Lock Screen, you’ll first be prompted to pick a wallpaper. They are several styles to choose from:

  • Photos: Select a background from your Photos library.
  • Photo Shuffle: Select categories or individual photos to display and how often you want them to change.
  • Emoji: Pick up to 6 emojis to form a decorative pattern.
  • Weather: A dynamic background that changes with your local weather.
  • Astronomy: Various options that display live views of Earth, the moon, or the solar system.
  • Color: Pick a background color for a subtle gradient effect in 6 different styles.
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3. Customize The Time Display

Once you’ve got a style picked out, tap the box that shows the current time. The clock is the largest element on your Lock Screen, and now you can customize its look by choosing a new font or color.

There are 6 fonts to choose from and over a dozen colors, as well as a color wheel selector in case none of the set color options appeal.

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4. Add Widgets

There are five widget slots on the Lock Screen you can populate with real-time data from your favorite apps. Most of them are tappable, and will launch the associated app when tapped.

The first slot is the thin horizontal line above the clock. It shows the date by default, but you can customize it to show something else. Below the clock there are 4 other widget slots in a row, but some widgets are double-wide, so you can display 2-4 widgets here.

As for which widgets you can add in these 5 slots, many of the ones currently available are tied to built-in apps like Calendar and Weather, but app developers can now create their own, so you’ll likely have even more options in the future.

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5. Change Options, Filters, And More

Each style of Lock Screen has a set of customizable options, so be sure to get in there and explore them. (Enter Edit mode by long pressing on the screen and tapping Customize.)

The different Astronomy views are worth looking at, as well as Emoji patterns and Color gradient options. For Photo Shuffle, tap the button at the lower left of your screen to select photos, swipe to apply different filters on photos, or tap the Menu button (…) at the lower right to adjust whether the subject of your photo appears in front of or behind your widgets.

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6. Choose How Notifications Appear

By default, Notifications are displayed in a new Stack format that shows more recent notifications on top with others fading behind it. Swipe down the stack to see how many notifications you have, or swipe the stack up to see the full list.

If you don’t like the Stack view, you can change it in the Settings app. Go to Settings > Notifications to change the default view.

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One of the most interesting new features that comes along with this bounty of Lock Screen customization is the ability to link a Focus mode to a particular screen. (Focus, if you’re unfamiliar, takes the the Do Not Disturb function to new heights — it allows you to customize what your phone does or doesn’t do during Work, Sleep, or other situations when you don’t want to be interrupted by your phone.)

To link a Focus mode to your Lock Screen, Tap Customize on that screen, then tap Link Focus. (Or open Settings > Focus, tap the Focus mode you want to link, then choose the Lock Screen you want to link it to under Customize Screens.)

Once you’ve linked a Focus mode, enabling that Focus mode will cause your Lock Screen to switch automatically (and vice versa — switching to that Lock Screen will enable the linked Focus mode.)

Here are some additional ways you can customize Focus and Lock Screens:

  • Change the apps that appear on your Home Screen when a specific Focus is active. (For example, you could set it so that your sleep sounds app is front and center with Sleep Focus enabled.)
  • Choose how Notifications are delivered in different Focus modes.
  • Choose which of your contacts can get through to you in different Focus modes so you never miss a crucial call from a family member, etc.
  • Set up a Reading Focus that disables notifications and displays your reading apps like Chirp, Audible, Libby, Goodreads, etc.
  • Set up an Exercise Focus that limits unwanted notifications and displays your music, podcast, and exercise apps.

What’s your favorite new feature in iOS 16?

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