Apple iOS and iPadOS 16.4 Deep Review

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Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 16.4 with New Emoji, Notifications for Web Apps on the Home Screen, Voice Isolation for Cellular Calls, New Shortcuts Actions, and More.

Apple is launching iOS and iPadOS 16.4, the fourth major updates to these operating systems that were introduced last year. The update includes support for the customizable Lock Screen and Stage Manager, and introduces new emoji and push notifications for web apps on the Home Screen. Some of the smaller improvements include new Shortcuts actions, Mastodon link previews in iMessage, and tweaks to Podcasts and Music. The addition of push notifications for web apps on the Home Screen is part of a pre-emptive strategy by Apple ahead of the requirement to allow third-party web browsers on iOS and iPadOS later this year.

Apple iOS and iPadOS 16.4 Deep Review

It’s understandable to feel disappointed that the new actions added to Shortcuts in iOS and iPadOS 16.4 mostly involve exposing app settings and toggles. While these additions are welcome, they may not be substantial improvements for power users who were hoping for more advanced controls. It’s worth noting that the Ask for Input action now supports multi-line text, which is a great change for advanced users.

The Stage Manager action in Shortcuts only allows you to turn it on or off with a couple of toggles, which are the same settings found in Control Center. This is a missed opportunity to bring support for the Mac’s ‘Find Windows’ and ‘Resize Windows’ Shortcuts actions to iPadOS.

However, the ‘Set Always-On Display’ action is a new system Focus Filter in iOS 16.4, which is a great addition. Focus Filters are based on the same intent technology as Shortcuts actions, which makes it possible for developers to expose the same functionality in both Settings and the Shortcuts app. It’s great to see the option to set Always-On display preferences depending on Focus modes now supported in both Shortcuts and Settings.

h API that Apple added to Safari 16.1 in macOS Ventura last year, and notifications from web apps are managed like those from any other native app. The update also enables third-party web browsers to add web apps to the Home Screen for the first time, and web apps now support push notifications and badges, which can be managed from the Settings app.

iOS and iPadOS 16.4

iOS and iPadOS 16.4 aren’t huge updates, yet most people will likely rush to install them because of the new emoji included in these releases. The nerdier among us will probably do the same to get native Mastodon link previews in iMessage, which are very nicely done. I continue to be let down by the poor execution and limitations of Stage Manager, and, at this point, I’m fully prepared to see iPadOS 17 go by without any major changes to iPadOS multitasking, which would be concerning.

iOS and iPadOS 16.4 are likely the last major updates before Apple’s attention turns to WWDC, the headset, and whatever may be in store for iOS 17. Worst case scenario, even if we won’t be getting any more iOS 16 updates and if iOS 17 turns out to be a smaller release this year, know this:

We’ll always have the goose emoji.

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