iOS 16 beta 4 changes and features: Control Nearby Devices

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iOS 16 developer beta 4 (and public beta 2) was recently released, and it is one of the more feature-laden updates that we’ve seen thus far. Included in the update are significant changes to the way that editing and deleting iMessages in the Messages app works, updates to the Now Playing album artwork UI on the Lock Screen, updates to Home Screen wallpaper customization, and much more.

One of the coolest additions to iOS 16 is the Control Nearby Devices feature. This accessibility option, which apparently was burried deeper in iOS settings on previous betas, has now graduated to the root of Accessibility. Found in Settings → Accessibility → Control Nearby Devices allows you to connect to and control a nearby iOS device wirelessly, assuming it’s also running iOS 16.

Accessing Control Nearby Devices on my iPhone 13 Pro Max running iOS 16 beta 4

Thus far, Control Nearby Devices lets users invoke the Home Screen, App Switcher, Notification Center, Control Center, and Siri on a nearby device wirelessly. Additional options are found for controlling media playback, including play/pause, previous or next track, and volume up or volume down. What’s cool is that I was able to connect to my iPad Pro while the device had its display turned off, and I was still able to connect to the device, and control music playback wirelessly.

Connecting and disconnecting from a nearby device wirelessly

Although limited at this stage, Control Nearby Devices is a promising new accessibility feature that will hopefully grow beyond the few options that it has today. It would be awesome to have an Apple TV Remote experience of sorts for controlling devices remotely, providing a sort of virtual mouse experience to have more fine-grained control over an iPad or iPhone.

General controls and additional media controls

Taking this idea even further, I would love to see a full Remote Desktop experience available to control other devices, mixing elements of SharePlay with remote control. Perhaps Control Nearby Devices will graduate beyond being just an Accessibility feature and a develop into a full-on utility for iOS users? Obviously that’s just wishful conjecture at this stage.

Keep in mind that this is a beta feature, so it’s not a guarantee that we’ll see it in future beta releases and/or in the final shipping version of iOS 16 later this year.

What do you think? You can watch my full walkthrough of iOS 16 beta 4 in the video embed above, but if you’d like to jump directly to my brief demonstration of Control Nearby Devices, you can find it timestamped here.

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