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5 Hidden iOS 16 Features You Need to Know About

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

The iPhone 14 won’t be released until this Friday Sept. 16, but iOS 16 is out today and your current iPhone can probably get Apple’s latest mobile software update. 

The biggest new features include a new customizable lock screen, the ability to unsend and edit text messages and the ability to easily remove people, pets or objects from your photos. (Check out everything announced at Apple’s “Far Out” event.) 

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But those features are only the beginning of what’s new in iOS 16. You’ll be excited to learn that there are several new hidden features that could completely change how you use your iPhone.

If you want to take a closer look at some of the hidden gems that iOS 16 has to offer, like password-protected photo albums and easily accessible Wi-Fi passwords, here’s what you need to know.

Read more: Will Your iPhone Run iOS 16? Some Won’t Be Compatible

And if you want to learn more about Apple’s latest mobile operating system, we’ve got new iOS 16 features that you’ll love and a couple of Apple Maps features that will improve how you travel.

You can also get your hands on iOS 16 right now. Check out how to download and install the beta version on your iPhone.

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Testing iOS 16 (Edit/Delete Sent Messages, New Lock Screen…


Pair Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with your iPhone

Apple has long allowed you to pair third-party controllers, like the PS5 Sony DualSense and Xbox Core Controller, to your iPhone and iPad, in order to more comfortably play mobile video games like the Apple Arcade library, Minecraft and Call of Duty. And you can add another console controller to that list.

If you own a Nintendo Switch, you can now pair your Joy-Con controllers to your iPhone or iPad running iOS 16. To start, hold down the little black pairing button on the Joy-Con, until the green lights start running back and forth. This means the device is in pairing mode. Next, open your iPhone and go to Settings > Bluetooth and select the Joy-Con from the list. Repeat this step with the other Joy-Con.

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Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are now password protected

The Hidden album in the Photos app is clearly not hidden, seeing as you can easily find it, making it impractical for adequately hiding private photos and videos. While Apple does have an option to make the Hidden album “invisible,” anyone with access to your phone can make it visible again and view everything inside.

Thanks to iOS 16, you can now lock the Hidden album. You don’t actually need to do anything to toggle this feature on. If you want to check it out, launch the Photos app and go to the Albums tab at the bottom of the screen. If you scroll down, you’ll see a tiny lock next to the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums. To view what’s inside, use Face ID or your passcode.

The Hidden album in PhotosThe Hidden album in Photos

The Hidden and Recently Deleted albums now require Face ID to be accessed.

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View and share saved Wi-Fi passwords

Apple has allowed iOS users to share Wi-Fi passwords for a while now, but only by placing two Apple devices near each other. And if that feature didn’t automatically work, you couldn’t just dig out the password from your settings. Plus if you wanted to share a saved Wi-Fi password with someone else, like an Android user or someone on a computer, you had to know the password. Until now.

Read moreYou Can Finally See Your Saved Wi-Fi Passwords on an iPhone

In Settings, go to Wi-Fi and tap the tiny information icon to the right of the network you want the password for. To view the network password, tap the Password section and then use Face ID or enter your passcode to view it. You can then tap Copy to copy the password into your clipboard and share it.

Wi-Fi network settings on iOS 16Wi-Fi network settings on iOS 16

You can view the password for any Wi-Fi network you’ve ever connected to, as long as you’re currently connected to it or near enough that it appears under My Networks.

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Find and remove any duplicate photos and videos

Maybe you’ve saved the same photo multiple times or downloaded a video more than once, and so you’ve got duplicates littered in your photo album. It may not be a problem if you’ve got the storage to spare, but if not, it might be a good idea to go back and remove every single duplicate — which is now easy to do on iOS 16.

In Photos > Albums, you should now see a new Duplicates album under Utilities, where Apple scans through all of your photos and shows you any photo or video you’ve saved more than once. From there, you can either delete any duplicates, or simply press Merge, which will keep the photo with the highest quality (and relevant data) and then move the others to the trash.

Duplicates folder in PhotosDuplicates folder in Photos

Merging will keep the highest quality photo and delete the rest.

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Although you’ll probably want to go through each set of duplicates, to ensure that they’re actually exact copies and not similar photos, you can also hit Select > Select All > Merge to remove every single photo and video that Apple thinks is a duplicate, all at once.

Pin your favorite tabs in Safari

Safari caps your open tabs at 500, and if you’re nearing that limit, it might be pretty darn hard to find the exact tab you’re looking for. You could scroll endlessly, but there’s now an easier way to find the exact tab you’re looking for.

In Safari, if you press down on an open tab, you now have the option to hit Pin Tab. This will move that tab to the top of Safari, where it will exist as a tiny tab preview, permanently pinned there, which you can then tap to view.

Pinning a tab in SafariPinning a tab in Safari

All your pinned tabs appear at the top of Safari.

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If you press down and unpin a tab, it will move to first in your grid of open tabs.

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