Of all the great features coming to our iPhones this fall with iOS 16, the most recognizable and “everyone will use this” has to be the new, overhauled lock screen. It’s all about personalization – you have a lot of options to change the look, and a lot of widgets to add more useful information. Where in the past every iPhone had the same Lock Screen with different static wallpapers, with iOS 16 everyone’s screen will be personal to them.
Customizing your iOS 16 lock screen is simple and intuitive, but there may be some nuances that you miss. Here’s how to make your lock screen your own.
Start with a long press
To start customizing your lock screen, just long-press it anywhere other than your notifications. You will see your lock screen zoom out and the bottom of the screen has two buttons: Customize and a (+) button to add a new lock screen. That’s right, you can have different lock screen settings and switch between them manually (long press to enter this interface, then swipe left and right) or automatically (by assigning lock screens to specific focus modes).
At the bottom of every lock screen, you’ll see a Link to Focus and at the top is the name of the background type: Photos, Emoji, Weather, Astronomy or Color.
You can also edit the current lock screen in the Settings app, under Wallpaper.
To remove a lock screen, long press to enter lock screen selection mode, swipe to the lock screen you want to remove and long press it. Select Remove background from the bottom of the screen.
Choose a style
The first thing to do when creating a new custom lock screen is to choose your style. Each style has several options to choose from.
People: A Photos background that just starts with a filter in your People Photos library.
Photos: A photo background selected from your Photos library.
Photo shuffle: Automatically changes the background image during the day. You can adjust the frequency between Hourly, Daily, On Tap or On Wake. You can also choose to use the Featured Photos automatically selected by the Photos app (and you can choose from broad categories) or choose photos manually.
emoji: Grab up to six emojis and it will be made into a pattern.
Weather: A dynamic background that changes to reflect the current local weather.
Astronomy: Displays a dynamic globe showing the Earth or a close-up of your position on it (with live cloud data and accurate sunlight), the moon or a detail of it (with accurate moon phase), or the entire solar system.
Colour: Choose a background color and get a subtle gradient effect in six different styles.
Adjust your time
Once you’ve picked a style, the first thing you’ll want to adjust is time. It is the largest element on your lock screen and there are plenty of options to choose from.
Tap the time to get the . to open Font and color voter. There are six font styles to choose from and over a dozen colors, plus a color wheel that lets you select any color. If you are not using Arabic numerals, tap the globe to switch to Arabic Indic or Devanagari.
There are five widget slots to fill with real-time data from your favorite apps. Most are touchable: they show some basic information and launch the companion app when tapped. Apps that provide potentially sensitive information will not fill in their information until Face ID recognizes you, just as notification details are hidden until you are identified.
Above the time: There’s room for a single thin horizontal widget – it doesn’t have to be the date anymore!
Under the time: There are four square/round spots, but some widgets are double wide to display more information. So you can get one, two, three or four widgets here.
There are widgets for many of Apple’s built-in apps, such as Calendar and Weather, but iOS 16 also includes a framework for developers to add their own apps. It’s apparently almost identical to creating complications for Apple Watch (though not “corner complications”), so chances are many apps have Lock Screen widgets.
Change options, filters and more
For each Lock Screen style, there are a number of options to change. Enter the Lock screen editing mode by long pressing and tap Customize on the settings you want to adjust.
For photos, you can swipe left and right to change filters. Tap the menu (…) button at the bottom right to turn off perspective zoom – the AI-powered feature that takes the foreground subject out of your photo and puts it in front of you time and widgets. You can switch between different astronomy views, Emoji patterns or color transitions. For the Photo Shuffle screen, you can tap the button at the bottom left to reselect which photos to display and how often to change them.
How do you want your notifications to appear?
The last thing you need to do when customizing your lock screen is choose how you want notifications to be displayed. You don’t do this in the customization area of the lock screen, but rather in the Settings app.
By default, notifications are displayed in a new stack format that shows the more recent notification at the top and others that fade into the distance behind it. You can swipe the stack down to see a count of your notifications, or swipe the stack up to see the full list, as you would in previous versions of iOS. But in Settings > notifications † Show as you can change the default setting in any of these views. Whichever you choose, you can swipe up and down between them.
Linking a focus mode
Finally, if you are a fan of Focus, you can link a Focus to it. Just tap the Link Focus button at the bottom of the lock screen customization interface. Or open Settings > Focus, select the Focus mode you want to pair and choose it in Customize screens.
This feature works both ways! If your phone enters that Focus mode (automatically entering sleep mode while sleeping or driving in the car), the corresponding lock screen will be applied. But long-pressing and swiping on the lock screen interface to manually select that lock screen will also enable focus mode. So your iPhone will switch to your Work Lock Screen when Work Focus mode is enabled, but you can also enable Work Focus mode by switching to that Lock Screen.