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The 5 best new iPhone features in iOS 10.2

Updated Dec 13th, 2016 9:50AM EST
iOS 10.2 Features List
Image: Apple

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After an oddly long beta period that saw Apple release something like 427 different versions of its pre-release mobile software, the company on Monday finally pushed iOS 10.2 out to an eager public. Why was the public so eager? Was it because iOS 10.2 fixes some crazy security holes or adds a few groundbreaking new features? No, the public was anxiously await new emoji. Lots and lots of new emoji.

Of course, there’s plenty more to iOS 10.2 than just new emoji, and in this post we’ll cover all of the best new features that just arrived on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch courtesy of iOS 10.2.

New emoji

Okay, so clearly we have to start with all of iOS 10.2’s new emoji, since this is the feature iPhone users have been awaiting most eagerly. The addition of Unicode 9.0 support means that a flood of new emoji are washing over iPhone and iPad keyboards worldwide. In total, more than 100 new emoji have been added, and that doesn’t even include all of the older emoji that were updated in this new release.

Here are some of the hottest new emoji that Apple added in iOS 10.2:

Click any of the links above to get more details on each emoji courtesy of Emojipedia, or check out this post to see a rundown of every single new emoji in iOS 10.2.

TV app

Behind the new emoji, Apple’s fresh new TV app is probably the most talked-about addition in iOS 10.2, though user response during the beta period was definitely mixed. Apple’s new app is basically a next-generation TV guide for the streaming generation. It pulls in listings from all your favorite movie and TV show streaming services (aside from Netflix, and we explained why back in October) and recommends content to watch based on popularity and viewing history. Once you select a movie or TV show, the app will automatically open the appropriate app so you can start streaming on demand.

It’s a nifty idea, but it’s been done before… and it doesn’t include Netflix content, which is a deal-breaker for many users.

New screen effects in Messages

Third-party stickers in Apple’s Messages app are old news — but screen effects are still cool. Perhaps it’s because screen effects are hidden and people often forget they’re even there until you send one. Well, it’s time to revive them because Apple just added two new ones in iOS 10.2. On it called “love,” and it inflates a big heart that’s attached to the message you send. The other is called “celebration,” and it fills the entire screen with sparklers joined by haptic vibrations.

To use either of the new screen effects, type your message or insert a photo or sticker in the Messages app, then press firmly (or long-tap on devices without 3D Touch) the send button. On the effects screen that pops open, tap the “Screen” tab at the top of the display and scroll until you find the effect you’re looking for.

Single sign-on

This is a big one… if you subscribe to a pay TV service that’s supported right now.

You know how when you use an app like HBO Go or Showtime Anytime, you have to log in with your pay TV account credentials? And you know how these apps should save your login details forever so you only have to sign in once, but they never do? Well, you can enter your login in a new “TV Provider” section on the main screen in the Settings app, and compatible apps will be able to pull that info instead of making you log in separately in each app.

For the time being, supported pay TV service providers include CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GVTC, GTA, Hawaiian Telcom, Hotwire, Metrocast, Service Electric and Sling TV.

New wallpapers

Last and sort of least, there are a few new wallpapers available in iOS 10.2. Woo hoo! They’re not available on all devices though, so if you have an older iPhone model you can still grab the new wallpapers in this post.

Now that you know about all the best new features, check out the rest of the additions in iOS 10.2 in Apple’s official change log:

iOS 10.2 introduces new features including the TV app (US Only), a new and unified experience for accessing your TV shows and movies across multiple video apps. Emoji have been beautifully redesigned to reveal even more detail and over 100 new emoji have been added including new faces, food, animals, sports, and professions. This update also includes stability improvements and bug fixes.

– Use Up Next to see the movies and shows you’re currently watching and pick up where you left off
– Get recommendations for new movies and TV shows in Watch Now
– Discover new apps and the latest iTunes releases in the Store
– Access the Library for your iTunes purchases and rentals

– Beautifully redesigned emoji that reveal even more detail
– Over 100 new emoji including new faces, food, animals, sports, and professions

– Improves stabilization and delivers faster frame rate for Live Photos
– Improves accuracy of groupings of similar photos of the same person in the People album
– Fixes an issue where Memories might generate a memory from photos of screenshots, whiteboards or receipts
– Fixes an issue where the camera would stay zoomed in after switching back from the Camera Roll on iPhone 7 Plus
– Additional support for RAW digital cameras

– Adds new love and celebration full screen effects in Messages
– Fixes an issue that sometimes prevented the keyboard from displaying in Messages

– Swipe up the Now Playing screen to more easily access Shuffle, Repeat and Up Next
– Choose how to sort Playlists, Albums, and Songs in Library

– Stories you’ve saved for later now appear the new Saved section
– The best paid stories from channels you subscribe to will now appear in a dedicated section in For You
– It’s now easier than ever to get to the next story, just swipe left or tap Next Story while reading

– Fixes an issue that caused the Move sheet to persist after filing a Mail message
– Addresses an issue with long press activating copy and paste in Mail
– Fixes an issue in which the wrong message would be selected after deleting a Mail conversation

Adds BraillePen14 support to VoiceOver
– Fixes an issue where the braille table could switch unexpectedly with VoiceOver
– Fixes an issue where sometimes Siri enhanced voices were unavailable to VoiceOver
– Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not re-order items in lists
– Fixes an issue where Switch Control was sometimes unable to delete Voicemails

Other improvements and fixes
– Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door/window, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors
– Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories when software updates are available to HomeKit accessories
– Improves Bluetooth performance and connectivity with 3rd party accessories
– Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime participants to appear out of focus
– Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime calls to appear with incorrect aspect ratio and orientation
– Fixes an issue that prevented some Visual Voicemail from completing playback
– Fixes a Safari Reader issue that could cause articles to open as empty pages
– Fixes an issue that could cause Safari to quit unexpectedly after marking an item as read in Reading List


Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.