Apple just revealed the best iPhone update yet

The next iPhone software, iOS 16, will have a surprisingly cool feature. It will be released in the fall, though public betas will start arriving next month. Oh, and the new addition is also coming to iPad in iPadOS.

June 23 update below. This post was first published on June 20, 2022.

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As Joe Rossignol discovered on MacRumors, the software will allow users to bypass CAPTCHAs. You know, it’s when you have to look at a grid of images and choose the ones that are tractors, bridges, or the like. These are often obscure images, designed to fool bots, but often make life difficult for us humans as well. Or it’s those cleverly arranged, colorful letters and numbers that you have to figure out.

Either way, it’s literally never a joy to do, and I’d be grateful to make up for the time I’ve wasted on things. Those seconds add up, you know.

June 23 update. Apple has just released the second developer beta of iOS 16 and there are a lot more features in store. Perhaps none are as compelling as the CAPTCHA-related update below, but there’s a lot to look forward to.

For starters, beta 2 has updates to messaging, allowing users with two phone numbers on one phone (one work, one personal, for example) to be treated separately. Messages can therefore be filtered according to the relevant SIM, and this applies to iMessages as well as non-iPhone SMS and MMS. This capability applies to iPhones from iPhone XS onwards. For iPhone 13 series phones, it works with two eSIMs instead of one physical and one eSIM.

SMS filtering is something Apple mentioned in its recent keynote, promising 12 subcategories for developers to use so that messages can be classified as Transaction or Promotion, for example.

This beta version also makes it easier to report spam messages from unknown senders to carriers. Initially, this will be for select US carriers only.

There are other new features in iOS 16 that are suddenly available in the developer beta, and will be coming to the public beta and general release in due course.

Another Messages-related update coming in the new beta is a tweak to the new edit and unsend capabilities. As you may know, with iOS 16, users can edit a message after sending it for a short time (15 minutes). But let’s say the recipient is using an older device with older software. With this update, older iPhones, for example, will see the original message but then see a second message that is the edited one. For clarity, this new message begins with the words “Edited To.” On iOS 16 to iOS 16 devices, of course, the earlier message is simply replaced with the later one, although this is marked as an edit.

Also new is the ability to back up your device in a wider range of circumstances. Previously, you could only back up your iPhone, for example, to iCloud over Wi-Fi and 5G networks, if your carrier supported it. Now, that backup can be done over LTE (or 4G, as most of us call it) and 5G connections, as well as Wi-Fi.

New lock screens are part of iOS 16, and beta 2 has refined how you edit and create them. It’s also easier to remove unwanted lock screens. Additionally, there are changes to filters for wallpapers, including duotone and color wash. A wallpaper, Astronomy, now adds a green dot on the map that shows where you are in the world at that moment. Note to self: book a plane ticket to try this out.

There’s also a new menu for the HomePod beta software, which developers will find useful. And there is much more to come. For now though, let’s get back to that cool CAPTCHA feature.

Now, with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura, this seems like a possibility thanks to private access tokens. Instead of tapping the required boxes, Apple will privately verify that the device and Apple ID are trustworthy, and instantly guide you to the site you’re trying to access. In Apple’s demo, the change was instant.

But it’s not the time saved that’s important, it’s the frustration avoided that helps the most.

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Users with disabilities have long complained that CAPTCHAs are useless and hard to beat, so this will be of great help to them.

It’s found in iOS 16 in Settings, under Apple ID and Password & Security. Here, it’s called Auto Verification and you can choose to turn it on or off. It’s on by default, hooray.

The item in Settings says: “Bypass CAPTCHAs in apps and on the web by letting iCloud automatically and privately verify your device and account.”

As Apple’s demo explains, when you use your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you’ve already done a lot of things that bots can’t, even if you’re interacting with a particular website for the first time. These things, which bots can’t mimic very well, include unlocking your device with a password or Face ID or Touch ID and likely signing in with your Apple ID.

I honestly can’t wait for this to arrive.

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