iOS 16.4 RC brings Voice Isolation for calls
Apple has released iOS 16.4 RC for all users. The update introduces a much requested feature, Voice Isolation for phone calls.
The build number for the release candidate version is Build 20E246.
Voice Isolation for Phone Calls in iOS 16.4 RC
Voice Isolation on iOS isn't particularly new, it has been available for FaceTime and WhatsApp calls, even on Mac and iPadOS. However, the feature did not support regular phone calls, until now. This is a software solution that you can enable to reduce ambient noise (background sounds such as wind), in order to help the person on the other end to hear your voice more clearly. To use it, access the Control Center during a call, tap on the Mic Mode button, and select the Voice Isolation option.
It does not provide active noise cancellation (ANC) as that requires hardware such as additional microphones and digital signal processors (DSP).
Notable changes in iOS 16.4 RC
Third-party web browsers (web apps) can be pinned on the Home Screen, they will display notification badges for alerts. The iCloud Shared Photo Library can now detect duplicate photos and photos. The Weather app supports VoiceOver narration for maps. The update introduces 21 new emojis that can be accessed from the emoji keyboard. iOS 16.4 adds a new accessibility setting that can be enabled to automatically dim the display when flashes of light or strobe effects are detected in a video.
Ask to Buy requests from children should now appear correctly on the parent’s device. The new Home Architecture, which has been re-introduced in iOS 16.4, fixes an issue where Matter-compatible thermostats could become unresponsive when paired to Apple Home. Apple says it has optimized the Crash Detection algorithms on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models.
The release notes are available on Apple's developer portal.
New features in iOS 16.4
Apple Books has re-added the page turn animation with 2 settings to choose from Slide and Curl animations. The Settings app has a new section that displays the coverage details for all your Apple devices. Queuing up songs in Apple Music will result in a "Playing Next" button to appear near the bottom of the screen. Users in the U.S., and Brazil can enable 5G Standalone from the Settings. Many users have reported that the Notification Center animation issue has still not been fixed.
The Cupertino company has ended support for Developer beta profiles to access the Developer beta updates. Users will either have to pay $99/year for the Developer Program, or use the free public beta releases, to test new versions of iOS when they are released.
iOS 17 will be announced at the WWDC 2023 in June. It is unclear whether it will add support for third party app stores, or also allow third-party browsers to use their own engines instead of WebKit (Apple Safari), but with the Digital Markets Act coming into force in 2024, it may not be long before we see some radical changes in Apple's ecosystem. Google has been working on Chrome for iOS based on its Blink engine. Microsoft is preparing to launch its own app store for iOS games.
Now that the iOS 16.4 RC has been made available for users in the Developer Beta and Public Beta programs, the stable version of iOS 16.4 should be released soon. It will likely be released on March 28th, along with Apple Music Classical, iPadOS 16.4, macOS 13.3, watchOS 9.4, and tvOS 16.4.