If you need evidence that Apple is working on a mixed-reality headset, take a spin with the HoloKit X. Created by Botao Amber Hu, a developer who has worked at companies like DJI, Google, and Twitter and is now CEO and founder of Holo Interactive, this headset relies entirely on existing capabilities of the iPhone to create interactive hands-free augmented reality experiences. It’s a powerful showcase of what’s possible if Apple ever made a headset using the tech already embedded in its smartphone.
Any such headset to come out of Cupertino would almost certainly cost more than a thousand dollars. (This is Apple, after all.) Look at Meta’s newest mixed-reality headset for reference; it starts at $1,499. Headsets in Microsoft’s XR platform cost between $600 and $1,000. These high prices are why the HoloKit X exists. Hu, who has long had a special interest in future computing and new media art, says he wants to “democratize” the world of mixed reality. As such, the HoloKit X costs $129, and all you need is a recent iPhone (excluding iPhone Mini and iPhone SE models) to power it.
An iPhone on Your Head
The HoloKit X is a plasticky headset with optical lenses inside. There’s no technology here (save for an NFC sensor, but more on that later). Just think of it as a viewer, not unlike old-school View-Masters. Similar to mobile virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard, Lenovo’s AR set for Star Wars games, or the now-defunct Google Daydream, you need to mount an iPhone onto the HoloKit X.
Unlike VR headsets, you’re not staring at a screen. The iPhone is mounted up and away from your eyes. Instead, you’re looking through the glass in a 60-degree field of view and can see the physical world as well as the people around you. The iPhone’s screen, while using the rear cameras to manage these AR experiences, is mirrored in stereoscopic vision to the lenses, making it so that you can effectively see virtual 3D objects embedded in the real world.
Exactly what you can do with the HoloKit X is limited right now. There are just a handful of experiences—what Hu calls “Realities”—in the HoloKit app, one of which is a multiplayer dueling game where you cast spells at an enemy. The visuals are clear, colorful, and pretty sharp, and the platform supports six degrees of freedom via Apple’s ARKit framework. Because of this, you can move around virtual objects and they will stay anchored in the real-world places where you position them. And when you’re playing a game, you can even duck to dodge blasts. The “enemy” can be another person using a HoloKit X in a shared space, a virtual character, or even a character controlled by someone with just an iPhone.
Since it’s entirely powered by an iPhone, the HoloKit app is leveraging existing technologies. The ability to play a game with other HoloKit X users, for example, doesn’t rely on cellular data or Wi-Fi, but rather the local networking technology that powers AirDrop. This is also what powers “Spectator View,” which allows anyone to use an iPhone and the HoloKit app to view your augmented reality experience in real time by pointing their phone at the scene. (You can record and share this to social media, or cast it via AirPlay to a TV for others to see.) Hu says Holo Interactive is also working on a Puppeteer mode that would enable someone else to direct your AR experience.
There are a few ways to interact with the augmented reality experience. The HoloKit app uses Apple’s Vision framework technology to identify and track your hand. I didn’t see a demo of this, but the idea is that you can just use your hands to interact with objects and the iPhone’s cameras will recognize your hand movements. Hu says HoloKit also supports any Bluetooth device that can connect to the iPhone, like PlayStation controllers.
What I did demo was the ability to use an Apple Watch’s gyroscope as a motion controller, just like a Wiimote. Hu strapped an Apple Watch to my wrist (it works with Watch Series 4 and newer) with the HoloKit watch app installed and running, and gave me a wand purely so I could feel like I was using it to shoot out spells. Lo and behold, I was able to cast spells with mere gestures or a flick of the wrist. I could even point my wand downward to load a charging bar and trigger a more powerful spell. Aiding the immersion is the use of spatial audio via any of Apple’s headphones that support that feature, so you can hear a spell whizzing past your right ear. The iPhone’s haptic vibration adds another layer of sensory input, but since the phone is mounted in the headset, it’s only vibrating up near your forehead, so you may not immediately sense it.
You can use the HoloKit X with an iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14, and iPhone 14 and 14 Pro Max. (You’ll need to take off your case so it will fit.) You’ll get the best experience with an iPhone that has a lidar sensor, which became a staple on the Pro models—starting with the iPhone 12 series.
We test a ton of Android phones. We like the ones below, but you’ll be better off with one of the options above. If you haven’t yet done so, check out our Best Cheap Phones guide for more.
Motorola Edge 2022 for $500: A sub-$500 Motorola smartphone with contactless payment support, 5G, wireless charging, plus a promise of three OS upgrades and four years of security updates. Say it ain’t so! The Motorola Edge (7/10, WIRED Review) finally matches its peers on several counts and exceeds them in some ways. It has a bright 144-Hz OLED screen, it’s lightweight, and its 5,000-mAh battery nearly lasts two days. It’s also the first Moto that comes in 100 percent recycled packaging. The downsides? The cameras are lackluster, and it’s rated at only IP52 for water resistance.
OnePlus 10T for $649: Always in a hurry? You might like that this phone recharges from 0 to 100 percent in a shocking 20 minutes. The OnePlus 10T is speedy, has daylong battery life, and has a pretty good software update policy. However, the camera is just OK, there’s no wireless charging, and it has an IP54 water resistance rating, which is not good enough for the price.
Google Pixel 6 for $599andPixel 6 Pro for $899: You can still buy last year’s Pixel 6 series (9/10, WIRED Recommends) from various retailers, but you should really wait until they’re on sale. They’ve dipped to $499 and $699, respectively, in the past, but I expect they’ll dip even further as stocks start to dwindle.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G for $300: The Nord N20 5G (7/10, WIRED Recommends) packs a ton of features despite the low price. The first caveats I need to mention are that 5G does not work on AT&T, and this phone isn’t compatible with Verizon at all. It will also only get one Android OS update (though it will receive three years of security patches). If none of that matters to you, you’re getting an AMOLED screen, great performance, NFC, a MicroSD card, a headphone jack, and daylong battery life. Not bad at all.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE for $600: The S21 FE (7/10, WIRED Recommends) frequently sits at $600 or less, so you shouldn’t pay a dollar more. It adopts many of the same features from last year’s Galaxy S21 but cuts a few corners to lower the price. It runs smoothly and has a bright 6.4-inch AMOLED screen, plus a 120-Hz screen refresh rate. The battery is bigger than the standard S21 and comfortably lasts more than a full day. The cameras are a bit different, but you still get an ultrawide and telephoto zoom alongside the main camera for a reliable imaging system. This is a no-nonsense phone that checks all the boxes. Its software support is excellent too, with a guarantee of four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates.
Android 13 is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system (internally code-named Tiramisu for all you dessert fans), and as per usual, it brings a range of new features and upgrades to Android phones and tablets. We’ve been playing around with it for a few months, and it’s more evolution than revolution over Android 12. Don’t expect any groundbreaking changes.
It’s available for some Android phones now and will continue to roll out to others over the coming months. We’ve rounded up many of the top new features here, and have instructions on how to download it yourself.
How to Download Android 13
If you have a Google Pixel phone (Pixel 4 and Pixel 4A and newer) you can download Android 13 now. Simply go to Settings > System > System update and tap Check for update.
Other Android devices from the likes of Samsung, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, and Xiaomi can expect to get the update later this year. If you can’t wait, it’s worth noting that some of these devices are eligible for the Android 13 Beta program (Google has a list of manufacturers here, including Samsung). If your device is supported, you can enroll in the beta program via this link.
After signing up, you can download and install the latest beta release as an over-the-air (OTA) update, but beware—beta releases can be unstable and glitchy. Before enrolling, we strongly recommend you back up your Android phone, or there is a real risk of losing precious data.
Updates should automatically pop up, but you can always check if you have the latest version by going to Settings > System > System update and tapping Check for update. Want to get off the beta and go back to Android 12? Go to Google’s Android Beta page, scroll down to find your device, and hit Opt Out. This will entail wiping all locally saved data, so make sure you back up your device. You’ll get an update prompt so you can go back to the older version.
If you don’t have a Pixel or a device in the Beta program, check your manufacturer’s website, forums, or social media to learn when you can expect to see Android 13.
Top New Android 13 Features
We’ve noted our 13 favorite features and improvements in the latest version, but there are many more small upgrades. You can dig deeper at Google’s developer site.
Even More Customization
Building further on Google’s Material You concept to enable deeper personalization, Android 13 supports more colors in the theme options. Currently you can choose from four wallpaper colors and four basic colors, but in Android 13, there are 16 of each. Just tap and hold on an empty bit of home screen or go to Settings and choose Wallpaper & style to find the new color theme options. If you toggle on Themed icons, you should also see more of those now. (Google is encouraging more developers to create them, so it’s not just Google and system app icons.)
Improved Copy and Paste
When you copy something in Android 13, a small floating panel pops up at the bottom of the screen, and you can tap to edit the contents. You will sometimes see relevant options. For example, if you copy a URL, you get an option to open it in your browser. You can also copy on one Android device and choose to paste on another that’s nearby (if you’re logged into the same Gmail account), so no more having to email yourself from phone to tablet. Your clipboard history will now be automatically cleared after a while (possibly an hour) to preserve your privacy.
There are several improvements in Android 13 that limit what your apps can access. Firstly, when an app asks permission to access media files, these will be categorized into images, video, or audio files. With the new photo picker, you don’t have to grant access to all of your photos. You can specify which photos and videos an app can access instead of allowing it to dive into your whole photo library (a feature that has been available on iPhones since iOS 14).
Until now, enabling an app to scan for Nearby Wi-Fi Devices meant granting it location-tracking permission. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case, as there’s now a separate Nearby Wi-Fi Devices permission option. The Privacy dashboard (accessed via Settings>Privacy>Privacy dashboard), which displays all the apps that have accessed the camera, microphone, location, and other permissions over the past 24 hours, now can show history from the last seven days.
When you install an app with Android, it has permission to send you notifications by default. Android 13 turns that on its head. From now on, apps must ask for permission before they can start sending you notifications.
Better Tablet Support
As Google finally gets serious about tablets, there are several changes in Android 13 designed to make life with larger screens a bit easier. On an Android tablet or folding phone, you can now see a task bar at the bottom with frequently used apps (you can hide it), a two-column arrangement for quick settings and notifications, and easier drag-and-drop multitasking with the option to pin app pairs in the Recent Apps menu. There’s also support for Wear OS smartwatches to unlock tablets automatically and audio switching support, meaning your wireless earbuds will switch from phone to tablet when you start playing a movie on your slate. Google has been rolling out updates to more than 20 Google apps with redesigned interfaces that make use of larger screen sizes, including YouTube Music and Google Maps (Android 13 not required).
It’s that time of year again. At WWDC 2022, Apple showed off iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, the next versions of the operating systems that run on its iPhones and iPads. This update builds on many of the new features Apple introduced in iOS 15, like SharePlay and Focus, and adds a greater degree of customization.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Is Your iPhone or iPad Compatible?
With iOS 16, Apple is ending software support for the following devices: the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE 2016, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus. Basically, if you have an iPhone 8 (2017) or newer (including the second- and third-gen iPhone SE), you’ll be able to download and run iOS 16 when it’s released this fall. That doesn’t mean every feature in the update will be available on your iPhone, though, as some features like Live Text work only with iPhones powered by an A12 Bionic chip or newer.
It’s a little more complicated for iPads, since they don’t have sensible naming conventions. Here are the generations that will receive iPadOS 16 this fall. You can figure out which model you have by following the directions here.
iPad: 5th-gen and up
iPad Mini: 4th-gen and up
iPad Air: 2nd-gen and up
9.7-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro
11-inch iPad Pro: First-gen and up
12.9-inch iPad Pro: First-gen and up
What’s New in iOS 16?
Here, we’ve highlighted the top new features coming in iOS 16. We’ll be adding more continuously until Apple releases the final version this fall.
Lock Screen Overhaul
Apple is redesigning the lock screen completely in iOS 16. Notifications now appear on the bottom of the screen so as to not clutter up your beautiful lock screen photo. The clock widget cuts behind the subject of your photo, giving off a cool depth effect, and you can customize its design, from the typeface to the color—just press and hold the lock screen to go into editing mode.
You can add more widgets below the clock, like weather, activity rings, and the calendar. All the way at the bottom, where the notifications live, you can also pin certain kinds of live activities. For example, if you’re following an NBA game, you can see the scores via a pinned notification at the bottom. You can also pin things like Uber rides, workout activities, and Now Playing controls, which can expand to the full lock screen now to show album art.
There’s a new wallpaper gallery with tons of designs to choose from, including a live weather lock screen that mimics the real-time weather conditions, or suggestions using photos from your very own camera roll. Apple will let you set up multiple lock screens, and it’s easy to cycle through them, just like how you can easily switch watch faces with a swipe on an Apple Watch.
More Focus Improvements
Your lock screen can also be tied to a Focus, meaning you can set a lock screen for your Work Focus and a different one—with a more personal photograph—for your Personal Focus. Swiping to the relevant lock screen will simply trigger that Focus. iOS 16 also adds Focus Filters in apps like Safari, Calendar, Mail, and Messages. This means when you open Safari with your Work Focus turned on, you’ll only see work-related tabs. The same goes for the other apps that support these filters, and Apple says developers can take advantage of an API to add support.
Messages, but Editable
Twitter still won’t let you edit tweets, but Apple is letting you edit messages in the Messages app after you’ve sent them. You can even “Undo Send” to recall messages. Also new is the ability to mark any thread as unread so you can check back on messages at a later time. Apple is also adding SharePlay support to the Messages app. Now, you don’t need to FaceTime a friend just to watch a synced movie together—you can start the action in the Messages app and chat with synced video and shared playback controls.
If you’re a fan of dictating your messages instead of typing (fewer “ducks,” am I right?) then you’ll be happy to see the improvements to dictation. Now, the keyboard will stay open during dictation so you can easily move between voice and touch. You can tap text to select it and replace it with your voice, and even send emoji without taking forever to find one.
Pay It Later With Apple Pay
Services that let you buy now but pay later have received some pushback from consumer analysts, but Apple is barreling ahead with its own take called Apple Pay Later. Soon you’ll be able to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase over four equal payments spread over six weeks with zero interest and no fees. You’ll have the option for Apple Pay Later when you’re checking out with Apple Pay, and Apple says it’s available everywhere Apple Pay is accepted online or in-app.
You’ll also be able to see order tracking directly in Apple Pay, though this is available only with participating merchants. And if you’re a small business owner, you’ll be able to accept Apple Pay payments via an iPhone instead of having to use a separate terminal.
We have case recommendations for a few popular devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy S22 range or Google Pixel phones. It’s smart to slap a case on these glass sandwiches and even a screen protector to keep the display free of scuffs and scratches. Here are a few other noteworthy accessories, including charging adapters, which many phones don’t include anymore.
Anker Nano Pro 20-Watt Charger for $20: This tiny charger will be all most people need to charge most smartphones. It’s compact, reliable, and cheap, though the prongs don’t fold up.
Satechi 108-Watt USB-C Charger for $75: A single-port charger can be annoying. This one from Satechi is slim enough to tote everywhere (with folding prongs), but it can fast-charge practically any Android phone at the highest speeds possible and still have enough power to juice up a laptop or tablet. If you want a USB-A and USB-C port, I like this 65-watt model from Nimble.
Nimble PowerKnit USB-C to USB-C Cable for $25: These are by far the most attractive cables I have ever used. They feel durable, support up to 60 watts of power delivery, are BPA- and PVC-free, and are made from certified recycled plastic and aluminum, so they’re more eco-friendly than most cables out there. You can choose from three size options.
Peak Design Samsung and Pixel Everyday Case for $40: If you have a new Samsung or Pixel phone and you frequently mount your phone to a bike or scooter, you owe it to yourself to snag this case and Peak Design’s bike mount. The case snaps perfectly into the mount, is dead simple to release, and has yet to fall off after months of riding. Peak Design also sells several other accessories you can attach to the back of these cases.
Nimble Champ Portable Charger 10,000 mAh: This portable battery is small enough to leave in a bag but has enough power to fully recharge your phone once or twice. There’s a USB-C and USB-A port, it delivers 18 watts of power, so it can recharge your tablet or phone, and it’s housed in 73 percent post-consumer plastic with plastic-free packaging.
Choose a Wireless Charger: Our guide to the best wireless chargers includes dozens of models in varying colors, shapes, and materials, and even some designed for specific phones. Not every Android phone supports wireless charging, but it’s a luxury you’ll want to take advantage of. Take a gander at our guide for our favorites.