Apple’s headlining iOS 16 feature stares you in the face every time you pick up your iPhone: For the first time ever, you can customize your iPhone’s Lock Screen, and boy, is it a welcome change. You can even set multiple Lock Screens for different purposes or times of day, each with different wallpapers and widgets (yes, there are widgets on the lock screen now). Plus, Lock Screens can be linked to Focuses, helping you separate work and personal life.
Note: As of writing, the new Lock Screen customization in iOS 16 are only available if you install the public beta, and will roll out to all compatible iPhones in fall 2022.
It all starts with a wallpaper
To get started with your customizations, wake your iPhone and tap and hold on an empty area of the Lock Screen to enter the editor. Tap the little Plus icon to add a new Lock Screen (you won’t be able to customize the default screen). Each Lock Screen is linked to a particular wallpaper, which kicks off this process.
Apple offers a bunch of suggestions, but here’s a taste—though, as always, you can also use any image you want.
- Astronomy: Live, animated wallpapers of the Earth, Moon, and Solar System, including information on the time of the sunset and the current phase of the moon.
- Photo Shuffle: This wallpaper selects multiple photos from an album, then shuffles between them every hour, every day, or every time you wake up your iPhone.
- People: Apple loves to highlight this feature, and we can see why: After you choose a photo (even if it isn’t in portrait mode), you can create a cool depth effect where the digital clock hovers over the subject, complete with a nice shadow effect.
- Photos: Apple has made the simple photo-picker quite smart. You’ll see different sections for featured photos, people, pets, nature, urban landscapes, and more. The Featured section does a great job highlighting wallpaper-worthy photos from your gallery.
- Emoji: Create a pattern-based emoji wallpaper with up to 6 emojis of your choice.
- Weather: This wallpaper slaps the background effects from the Weather app on the Lock Screen for your current location.
- Color: Pick a color, any color, and watch as your iPhone turns it into a beautiful gradient wallpaper (swipe to try different effects).
Each wallpaper has different options that you can access using the three-dotted Menu button on the bottom right. Most common options let you disable the “Depth Effect” and “Perspective Zoom.”
Customize the digital clock
Not only did Apple update the default digital clock font, but they also added a whole new customization option that lets you change the font and the font color. After you pick the wallpaper, you’ll land on the customization screen above. Tap the digital clock icon to switch to a different font and color.
And now, widgets
On the customization screen you’ll see an empty rounded rectangle below the time and surrounding the date. Tap the empty space to find the new widget selection menu. You can add up to four square widgets (similar to Apple Watch complications), or two rectangle widgets. At this time, only Apple’s first-party widgets are available, so it’s slim pickings—but third-party developers will no doubt come up with their own options as well, once the OS is in general release.
To add a widget to your Lock Screen, simply tap it, then use drag-and-drop to move it around. Hit the little Minus icon to remove a widget. Don’t forget, you can customize the date at the top as well. The widget there will be purely textual; the widget data will show up after the date. Still, quite useful for viewing your Activity data or to be reminded of an upcoming appointment.
Set a wallpaper pair
When you finish customizing, tap “Done” to see a pair options: You can tap the “Set as Wallpaper Pair” button to set the wallpaper for both the Lock Screen and Home Screen. Now, when you switch to a different Lock Screen, the Home Screen wallpaper will change as well.
Or, you can tap the “Customize Home Screen” button for expanded controls. Here, you can enable “Legibility Blur” which makes it easier to read app labels. If you want to choose a different photo for the Home Screen, tap the Photos button. You can also create a color-based Home Screen wallpaper using the color picker icon, and set your own gradient. Tap the “Done” button again, and your Lock Screen is ready to go.
Link a Lock Screen with a Focus (if you want)
After you finish creating and customizing, you’ll see a “Focus” button at the bottom of the editor for each of your Lock Screens. Using the “Focus” feature, you can link any of your Focuses, which will trigger that Focus every time you switch to that particular Lock Screen.
After you’re done creating the Lock Screen, you can switch between them with a tap. Just as on an Apple Watch, you can swipe between and choose a Lock Screen to instantly activate it (along with associated widgets and Focus mode).