On Tuesday, Apple released the latest update to iOS 16. iOS 16.2 is more than the usual mid-December update and brings a slew of new features, bug fixes, and security updates. And you want to hit it Download and install button right away. In fact, you want to update all your Apple devices to this week’s updates. This is a pretty big update, with a handful of key features you won’t want to sleep on.
End-to-end encryption for all your iCloud stuff
Earlier this week, Apple introduced a few new security features in iOS 16.2, the most significant of which is the ability to end-to-end encrypt almost all of your iCloud data. Of course, Apple has to rename everything, so it’s calling this feature Advanced Data Protection. It is not enabled by default, but we recommend enabling it immediately. Open the Settings app, tap your Apple ID at the top, then select iCloud. Scroll down the page until you see Advanced data protection and tap it to get started.
You’ll have to jump through some hoops to set everything up, which is probably why it’s not enabled by default. For starters, all your Apple devices should be updated to the latest operating system (iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13.1). Next, you’ll need to figure out a way to recover your account access if you lose your device or passcode, as Apple no longer has the encryption keys for your data – that could be a trusted contact or a recovery key.
Why go through all this effort? Simply put, it takes the keys to your data from Apple and puts them back in yours. Currently, Apple encrypts some data on your device with a key that you just have she don’t, such as health, passwords and keychain, payment information, and Apple Card transactions. But many important categories, including backups, are encrypted in transit and on Apple’s servers using a key that Apple controls. That means if a hacker gets into their servers, they can get to your data. If a government agency wants that data from Apple, it can decrypt it and give it to them.
Advanced data protection adds end-to-end encryption (your keys only on your devices) for iCloud backups, photos, notes, reminders, voice memos, Safari bookmarks, and more. In fact, that’s the only cloud data not encrypted with your own keys are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. It’s worth taking the time to set it up!
Free karaoke with Apple Music Sing
If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you get one free karaoke upgrade in iOS 16.2. The feature is called Apple Music Sing and all you have to do is open the lyrics of each song just like you’re used to and look for a little microphone icon. When you see that, you can adjust the level of the vocals – all the way to instrumental if you want – and follow the real-time lyrics, just like a real karaoke machine. Lyric views have also been updated, with better animation to help you follow along.
Not every song with lyrics supports Apple Music Sing, but many do, and the number will grow over time. It’s powered by machine learning rather than playing a separate song with no vocals, so many updaters won’t get it – it’s limited to iPhone 11 and newer, the latest Apple TV 4K, and iPads in recent years.
There is a completely new Home Foundation
You do not do that to see this feature, but if you use smart things for the home, you probably will to feel the. With iOS 16.2, Apple rewrote the underlying architecture of the Home app and HomeKit to be faster and more reliable. If you’re frustrated with long delays in turning lights on or off or automations not getting processed on time, this might be just the solution you’ve been looking for.
You may need to initiate the update yourself – and it’s a good idea to make sure everyone in your home and all your devices like HomePods and Apple TVs are updated first. Open the Home app, tap the (…) button in the top right, then choose Home settings. Scroll down and select Software Update. You may see a banner at the top of the screen that says “Home upgrade available” – that’s where you start.
There are more cool things for your lock screen
The customizable lock screen is one of the best features of iOS 16. With iOS 16.2 you get some handy new widgets to choose from: medicine to remind you when to take your next dose, and sleep to help you see how much rest you get (when tracked with an Apple Watch or other accessory).
If you have an iPhone 14 Pro, you get a huge change to the always-on display: the option to hide the wallpaper and/or notifications. They’ll come in terribly useful, as they make it easier to tell when your phone is idle and easier to read.
Follow live sports with Live Activities
Live Activities are rich notifications that update themselves in real time. So instead of getting a new notification every time the status of your food delivery or baseball game score changes, you’ll see a single widget-like notification that will keep you in the loop. Those with an iPhone 14 Pro also get a new experience with the Dynamic Island, so they can keep an eye on something while using other apps.
Sports fans have been waiting to follow their favorite teams using Live Activities since iOS 16 was released in September, and the feature is finally coming with iOS 16.2. Open the TV app and then tap the Watch now tab, scroll down to the Sport row, then tap live sports. Scroll down and tap Follow your teams. Pick your favorite teams there and you’ll automatically see information about them in News, along with Live Activity score updates for the games they’re playing.
Other opportunities and goals
Of course, there are a lot of other little things in iOS 16.2 that you might appreciate. In addition to nearly three dozen security updates, you’ve got improved search in Messages (you can find images by searching the content), the Freeform shared whiteboard app, and relevant news articles in the Weather app. Plus Game Center finally gets SharePlay for multiplayer games and a new home screen widget to show your friends’ activity.