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Playing with iOS 16's lockscreen

Apple finally enables battery percentage on the lockscreen

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After years of cautious testing, Apple is finally bringing customised lockscreens to my iPhone via iOS 16. This thrilled me no end because I own the iPhone 12 Mini, and though I love my Mini, its battery is just too small. So the battery percentage needs to be visible at all times to avoid surprises. Unfortunately, this info isn’t visible on the lockscreen in iOS 15 because of the iPhone’s notoriously large notch. Checking my battery involves an exasperating task of precisely swiping down from the top right corner. Contrast this with my Android lockscreen (see below), which not only has the battery info visible on the top right at all times, but can also be customised to display a battery widget with larger type.

My Android’s customised lockscreen with a prominent battery widget

I didn’t want to wait for the official launch of iOS 16. So I crossed my fingers, downloaded the iOS 16 beta, and installed it. And I finally had the battery widget permanently on my lockscreen. I do wish the number was a bit larger. But they only have two option for the battery widget. One’s a graphic. The other which I chose, has the name of my phone along with a battery icon, and the battery percentage. When other powered devices like AirPods or bluetooth headsets are connected, it shows that device’s battery power. Wish they had given a third option with a larger, more visible number, like on my Android.

The battery options for the widget are still too limited

Of course, being a beta OS did mean some complications. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad. My banking app doesn’t work, and my battery seems to be draining a bit faster. Also, there were a couple of glitches like the timer display on the lockscreen freezing, and my location being shown as the US on that globe. I dutifully reported these to Apple. In the next beta build, they sorted out the glitching timer and gratifyingly deported me back to India. Third-party apps like my banking app should be fixed by their developers in due course.

I then turned my attention to the rest of that customisable lockscreen. That live-weather image of earth with clouds, sunlight, darkness creeping in towards the east, and my location shown as a tiny green dot is quite stunning, as seen in the afternoon shot I used in the title image. I do also like the large chunky typeface that makes it easy to read the time when I check my phone in bed.

There’s an option to have a more detailed image of the planet, moon, or solar system as the background image. But I found the full view of Earth aesthetically more appealing. I then checked out the widgets. We have the option to choose between either two large widgets or three to four smaller widgets. I went with one big and two small and put the step counter in the middle. At that point, the weather icon caught my attention.

Background and widget options

Now checking the weather is not really a thing in India. That’s simply because the weather is boringly predictable, except in the rainy season when it’s totally unpredictable. During the summer, it will always be hot and sweaty, whatever the temperature. Winter is virtually non-existent in south India. So it’s still hot, though maybe not as hot as summer. During the monsoon, it keeps raining, every now and then, and it’s hard to predict when exactly it will rain. You just dash out whenever there’s a break in the rain, and hope you don’t get drenched.

The thing was I had been hearing that Apple had acquired the Dark Sky app, and integrated it into its own weather app. I had also read that Dark Sky was known for its accuracy in predicting rain. So I thought I would give it the weather widget a try, and this is what it looks like. Being new to the weather app, I initially thought ‘50%’ meant there was a 50% chance of rain.

But I quickly realised that isn’t how it works.

3-in-1 widget: Battery, step tracker and weather

Below is a better example. A couple of mornings ago (see image below-right), it was raining intermittently, but not heavily. As you can see, the widget says 27%. Here’s the thing. That doesn’t mean there’s a 73% chance it won’t rain. All the widget is saying is it will rain in the broad area around me. In fact, it may not even rain where I live. I googled the weather forecast. Another site confirmed 39% precipitation and 0.6 mm of rain. In a contradictory way, this made sense with the weather that I was actually experiencing. So the weather widget is not really the omniscient predictor of rain I felt it was going to be.

27% rain doesn’t mean there’s 73% chance it won’t rain

I also like the notifications popping up from the bottom, and clubbed together by apps. It’s definitely a good thing.

The new notification style is cool

Finally, the countdown timer now appears as an active widget on the lockscreen and can be switched off from there. Convenient and eye-catching.

All in all, apart from the disappointing rain prediction, the iOS 16 lockscreen is now a lot more interesting. Ah well, win some, lose some.

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