Just over a month since Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and the first public beta of the next iPhone operating system – iOS 16 – is available now for the public to test.

Beta versions of software have been used in software development since for a long time, though only more recently have Beta versions been made available to the public, especially in the case of Apple. This “Beta Phase” of the software development allows for two things. Firstly, the final revision of the code to iron out any bugs, and secondly a wider test audience.

Apple, like many others, now make that Beta available publicly once they feel they have a “stable” version of the software, though it should be noted there is still a risk you will encounter some issues – compatibility issues, app issues, reboots, freezing who knows – that’s the point of the testing phase.

And as a Beta tester, your role is to report any of those issues to Apple via the Feedback app – allowing them to learn from any issues you have.

But if you’re ok with all that, then the Public Beta allows you to be one of the first to experience some of the features of the new iOS before it’s released to all compatible iPhones in mid to late September.

What’s new in iOS 16?

As ever there are a bunch of new features to see and test out on the new iOS, but this year there are some very new concepts for Apple that will change the look of your phone overall and change the way you interact. with other people too.

iOS 16 Lock Screen

The lock screen gets the biggest update ever, more than just when the Swipe to Unlock was removed:).

Now you can customise the lock screen with a choice of fonts on the clock, add information to the lock screen via new Widgets, and choose from a set of different lock-screen options.

My favourite is the photo shuffle which allows you to choose a range of photos which appear on the lock screen, a different one every time you unlock. There’s also Emoji, Weather, Astronomy, Colour and more.

The widgets mean you can see your next alarm, calendar appointment, battery level, stock prices, weather and much more.

You can also set certain screens to be linked to your Focus Modes if you’re using those – which you should!

Delete and edit sent messages

The feature that got the most attention out of WWDC a month ago was the ability to delete sent messages from both your phone and the recipients phone.

This will no doubt be the most tested feature of all by new users.

It’s done by simply tapping and holding on the message you sent, and choosing Undo Send.

You can also choose Edit – which allows you to change something in the message – a change which will be reflected at your end, and on the recipients device.

However, it should be noted that this only works if the person who received the message also has iOS 16.

Additionally, if they have other devices like iPads or Mac Computers running iMessage they too must be running the new Beta software or the messages deleted from phones will still show on those devices.

And of course, this only works on “Blue Bubble” iMessages – not “Green Bubble” sms or text messages.

Great feature, but not one to be relied on

Shared Photo Libraries

If you’ve got Family sharing setup, you can now setup a shared photo library to easily share photos within the family.

It’s basically a separate iCloud library for all of the family to contribute to, either automatically or manually.

Visual Look Up

Now this is cool! And could be the sleeper feature.

In a photo, you can press and hold on subject (person or object) and iOS 16 will magically find it’s outline, allow you to drag that item “out” of the photo and drop it into a message, document or email.

Very cool. Not perfect, but very very cool.

Much More

Of course there’s much much more, but those are likely the key things you’ll want to check out.

Live Text now works on pause video frames so you can tap and select text on the screen.

Safari now incorporates Passkeys which will become the future of passwords, and Mail is updated with a few new features too.

How to download the iOS 16 Public Beta

It’s easy! Head to Beta.Apple.com on your iPhone in Safari Browser, and look for the public beta, sign in with your Apple ID and follow the steps.

It will download a file to your phone, then you go into Settings, click on the New Profile and choose Install – then from there it will reboot, and you can do a software update as normal.