If you haven’t been using Spotlight Search on your iPhone, we’ve got ten reasons to get started. Apple has made some significant improvements to the search interface available on the home screen and lock screen, and it’s more useful than ever.
New features and updates to Spotlight Search appear on iOS 16 and later and include useful tools like advanced image search, live activities, and quick actions. There are even new settings available to show or hide certain Spotlight interface elements. Many of these updates are also available on iPad OS 16.1 and macOS 13 Ventura and later.
Apple added a new search button on the home screen to access Spotlight Search, which is probably one of the first things you noticed after updating iOS 16.
Having a search button on the home screen might seem unnecessary when swiping down on the home screen to open Spotlight Search is as fast as ever. However, many iPhone users weren’t taking advantage of Spotlight or even realizing it was there, and one button puts it front and center.
The Search button takes the place of the dots on the page for navigating the home screen, but the dots will appear for a second each time you move from page to page. Plus, you can still scroll on the Find button to jump to pages faster, so you’re basically just getting extra functionality from that area. However, if you prefer the page points as they were before, you can easily remove the Search button.
When you open Spotlight from the home or lock screen, you’ll now find the search bar just above the keyboard instead of at the top of the screen. This makes it easier to make edits to your search when you’re using one hand, so you don’t have to stretch your fingers too far to reach the top of the screen or slide the iPhone across your palm.
In iOS 15, you could already use Spotlight on your Home or Lock screen to search for images in the Photos app by location, people, scenes, and even things in photos like text, dogs, cats, books, and more. Apple builds on iOS 16 to include results from other apps, like Messages, Notes, and records.
You need to have an iPhone model with an A12 Bionic chip and then search for text in photos, which is the exact requirement as in iOS 15, and it only works with local files. Apple added three more languages that work with Live Text in iOS 16, so you can search for images with text in Japanese, Korean, and Ukrainian.
- Japanese (newly supported in iOS 16)
- Korean (newly supported in iOS 16)
- Ukrainian (newly supported in iOS 16)
Before, you could search for artists, entertainers, musicians, actors, TV shows, and movies in Spotlight and get detailed information about them. That still applies, but iOS 16 now also supports more comprehensive details on sports leagues and teams.
Whereas selecting a sports league or team in iOS 15 would give you a list of recent games and a Siri Knowledge result with some details and links, iOS 16 gives you a full single-page view that provides scores, standings, schedules, lists, news, highlights, social networks, web images, links and more.
When you search for Spotlight in iOS 16, it will remember your last searches and list them below Siri Suggestions. That way you can jump straight to one of them if you didn’t finish searching the last time you used Spotlight. If you don’t like seeing your recent search history, you can disable it via Settings -> Siri & Search -> Show Recents.
If you’ve never been a fan of Siri-suggested apps and actions at the top of Spotlight search before you start typing something, you can now hide suggestions via Settings -> Siri & Search -> Show Suggestions.
Speaking of Siri Suggestions in Spotlight, one argument for not hiding them is that they’re even smarter now, so you’ll likely find them more useful. This boost in intelligence is due to its new ability to consider context, so you can open Spotlight and immediately see your next meeting, get directions to an upcoming appointment, check the status of an upcoming flight, get reminders to call someone on their birthday, open an app you use regularly at that time of day, and more.
One of the best new improvements with Spotlight Search in iOS 16 is that you can quickly take action from the search interface. For example, you can activate a focus mode, create a new alarm, start a timer, Shazam a song, run a shortcut for an appRegistration a voice memo, and much more. Entering keywords like “timer”, “focus” or “shortcut” will give you all the options you need.
In iOS 15, you might see an app clip, a small part of an app that lets you complete tasks right away without installing the entire app, in Spotlight Search. For example, if you’re at a gas station, you might get an App Clip suggestion in Spotlight to pay for your gas with Apple Pay. Or, Spotlight might suggest you use the restaurant app clip to pay for your food when you dine out.
You’ll still see them, but you’ll get even more accurate results in iOS 16 with precise location suggestions, which means you should see nearby app clip suggestions in Spotlight instead of expecting them to appear.
Live Activities are new real-time widgets you can see on your lock screen or Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro models when you want to track a delivery order, check a game score, or view the current location of your ride. Uber.
While they didn’t make it in the iOS 16.0 release, they did. was available in iOS 16.1. One feature of Live Activities is that you can launch them from a Spotlight search, as seen below. However, it is not live yet, but it will be out very soon. with iOS 16.2.
Apple will let you start following Spotlight sports games for the National Basketball Association and the English Premier League (US and Canada only), as well as Major League Baseball (US, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Korea).
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