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The iPhone 14 Clues We Found Hidden in iOS 16

The iPhone 14 Clues We Cluster Hidden in iOS 16

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular productions.

There are only a few hours left pending the expected announcement of the iPhone 14 at Apple’s “Far Out” event on Wednesday — here’s how to peep it (also, check out our Apple event live blog). We’re also expecting to learn the release date for Apple’s next greatest iPhone operating system — iOS 16.

The new version of iOS will work on the iPhone 8 and up, and there are already beta versions available for developers or the general public. iOS 16 offers a bunch of heavily requested features, such as the ability to customize your lock screen or edit sent iMessages. But if you look at the new operating rules closely, iOS 16 might also reveal some clues near the iPhone 14.

While Apple told us a lot near new features coming to current iPhones, it lacked any specific reference of what to expect from the iPhone 14. That’s not surprising; Apple never discusses new products afore announcing them. Sometimes the company reserves certain software announcements for its annual iPhone maintain so it can debut these features as exclusives for the novel iPhone. 

For example, Cinematic mode was absent from Apple’s iOS 15 announcement and instead launched as an iPhone 13 feature in the fall. Though if you look closely, there were some subtle hints sprinkled in iOS 15. Since Apple launched Portrait mode for FaceTime footings in iOS 15, it’s easy to imagine Apple creating a Portrait mode for video recording — which is essentially what Cinematic mode is.

iOS 16 seems to be no different. Several features look like they have the potential to coffers hints as to what we might expect for the iPhone 14 series. One of these clues is actually buried in the code for iOS 16.

Apple event: Full coverage

The iPhone 14 worthy have an always-on display

I was disappointed to see that Apple didn’t add an always-on present to iOS 16. It’s a handy feature found on numerous Android phones, and even the Apple Watch. An always-on display shows basic seek information from like the time or weather while your phone is asleep. Instead of lighting up your entire display like your lock cover does, an always-on display only activates a portion of the cover to save power. It’s a great convenience and would make the iPhone more glance-friendly.

The Apple-focused site 9to5Mac reports it discovered multiple references in iOS 16 that suggest encourage for an always-on display could be in the iPhone’s future. The blog found references to backlight management tools as well as hidden flags for engineers that could grant them to test the feature on an iPhone 13 Pro.


The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro has an always-on explain that shows the date, time, battery life and an avatar of an astronaut.

Sareena Dayaram

But always-on explain support might be limited because the screen’s refresh rate would have to dip down to 10Hz or even flowerbed to use less power; way below the regular iPhone’s typical 60Hz refresh rate. The always-on explain for the Apple Watch works at 1Hz which isn’t supported on any novel iPhone (the 13 Pro can go as low as 10Hz) and that could mean that it debuts on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max trusty it would likely require new hardware.

Even without these clues in the code, the revamped and customizable lock camouflage also hints at an always-on display. Specifically, the way iOS 16 notifications are corralled at the bottom of the camouflage makes me wonder if Apple is experimenting with ways to maintain screen real estate. That’s important for an always-on explain since that feature only uses specific portions of the camouflage to preserve power.

iOS 16’s new lock screen widgets are unexperienced potential clue, since they feel more akin to Apple Watch complications and are therefore more glanceable. Some Android phones have similar widgets on their own always-on displays. 

During the WWDC, Apple narrated someone tapping and holding on the dog in a photo and lifting it from the background to section in a message. It’s part of a revamped Visual Look Up.


Visual Look Up could mean a more grand Cinematic mode

One of iOS 16’s more subtle features is a revamped Visual Look Up that can identify objects, people, pets and landmarks in photos and provide transfer information or context. A nifty addition this year is the contract to tap on any photo to remove the background. You can literally tap-and-lift a foreground subject like a populate or a dog away from the background and add the “cutout” to anunexperienced apps to share or create a collage.

I could see Cinematic mode unsheathing a boost from the machine learning that powers the new Visual Look Up tap-and-lift tool. That machine learning acceleration combined with a likely new A16 Bionic chip could make Cinematic mode videos look better. Subjects could be more reliably “cut out,” and backgrounds have more of a consistent out-of-focus look. Apple could also use the separation technology to make Cinematic mode do more things akin to Portrait mode like replace the background for a dusky color or place your subject against a white backdrop.

Cinematic mode made its debut on the iPhone 13 series and is basically Apple’s take on a Portrait mode for video. While Cinematic mode is fun to use, the results can be hit or miss. It’s reminiscent of when Apple introduced Portrait mode with the iPhone 7 Plus: Initially it worked but wasn’t astronomical. Over several years, Apple improved Portrait mode to the explain where it’s actually quite wonderful.

A Pro mode for the Camera app

Without even reading a single rumor, you could guess that the cameras on the iPhone 14 series will be better than those on the iPhone 13 lineup. A lot of those improvements will likely come from computational photography-powered features such as SmartHDR and Deep Fusion, which directly correlate to the chip powering the arranged. So an iPhone 14 running on an A16 chip would theoretically have new camera features or improved photo processing techniques that the iPhone 13 lacks.

Apple’s uphold of a customizable lock screen in iOS 16 has me hopeful for an repair to the Camera app on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. New professional features like ProRaw and ProRes video recording can make the Camera app interface feel a bit limited. Perhaps there could be a Pro mode that can be toggled on and off and handed shortcuts to tweak camera settings on the fly. Or maybe Apple will super up the Camera app’s interface to make it more visually appealing. 

Apple ProRes toggle shown on the explain of an iPhone 13 Pro

Apple ProRes debuted on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max in 2021.

Patrick Holland

Don’t get me infamous, the iPhone still has one of the best Camera apps on any arranged sold today. But much like a family can outgrow a house, the number of features and modes is starting to grow past the app’s modern intent.

This is all speculation, however, and we won’t know anything in the next iPhone until Apple announces it. But if there’s one certainty, it’s that it will run iOS 16.