When examining the iOS 16.4 simulator in Xcode 14.3 beta 1, I noticed that there had been a few small changes to SF Symbols.
There are now twelve different sets of symbols to consider:
- SF Symbols v1.0 available in iOS 13.0, watchOS 6.0 and macOS 11.0
- SF Symbols v1.1 available in iOS 13.1, watchOS 6.1 and macOS 11.0
- SF Symbols v2.0 available in iOS 14.0, watchOS 7.0 and macOS 11.0
- SF Symbols v2.1 available in iOS 14.2, watchOS 7.1 and macOS 11.0
- SF Symbols v2.2 available in iOS 14.5, watchOS 7.4 and macOS 11.3
- SF Symbols v3.0 available in iOS 15.0, watchOS 8.0 and macOS 12.0
- SF Symbols v3.1 available in iOS 15.1, watchOS 8.1 and macOS 12.0
- SF Symbols v3.2 available in iOS 15.2, watchOS 8.3 and macOS 12.1
- SF Symbols v3.3 available in iOS 15.4, watchOS 8.5 and macOS 12.3
- SF Symbols v4.0 available in iOS 16.0, watchOS 9.0 and macOS 13.0
- SF Symbols v4.1 available in iOS 16.1, watchOS 9.1 and macOS 13.0
- SF Symbols v4.2 available in iOS 16.4, watchOS 9.4 and macOS 13.3
The versions for iPadOS, tvOS, Mac Catalyst versions are the same as iOS.
An app can only use symbol names that are supported by the OS version it is running on. Symbols that were renamed are still available using their earlier names for backwards compatibility, but the newer names will not work on older iOS versions.
The minimum iOS deployment version of your app will determine which symbols you can use and whether you must keep using the older names (or use runtime availability checks to use the new names or newer symbols on later versions).
For a detailed list of symbols that were added or renamed in earlier iOS versions, see my previous articles:
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 14.0 (SF Symbols 2.0)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 14.2 (SF Symbols 2.1)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 14.5 (SF Symbols 2.2)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 15.0 (SF Symbols 3.0)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 15.1 (SF Symbols 3.1)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 15.2 (SF Symbols 3.2)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 15.4 (SF Symbols 3.3)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 16.0 (SF Symbols 4.0)
- SF Symbols Changes in iOS 16.1 (SF Symbols 4.1)
The purpose of this article is to describe what has changed in SF Symbols in iOS 16.4, not how to write code to use SF Symbols. There are many great tutorials available, such as this one by Natasha Fadeeva.
SF Symbol Browsing Apps
At the time of writing, the latest version of Apple’s own SF Symbols app is v4.0 (build 80) and includes SF Symbols 4.1 (iOS 16.1, macOS 13.0). Based on past experience it’s unlikely that the app will be updated until some time after iOS 16.4 has been publicly released.
My own Adaptivity app is a tool for developers and designers, and one of its many features is a very comprehensive view to browse SF Symbols. It can view any of the SF Symbol data sets that your device supports and will show symbol names that are valid for that data set. It will not show a newer name for any symbols that have been renamed in a later version.
I take great pride and invest a lot of time and effort in keeping Adaptivity up to date. Since SF Symbol names are just strings, v9.5 of Adaptivity supports viewing all 4,495 symbols on a device running iOS/iPadOS 16.4 beta 1 or later. The iPhone and iPad screenshots in this article were taken from this version. The app is a universal purchase and works on iOS/iPadOS and Mac Catalyst.
If you want instant access to the symbol names and unicode characters right from the menu bar on your Mac, check out SF Menu Bar. Version 1.13 will be released at the same time and supports the new data set when run on macOS 13.3 beta 1 or later.
Changes in SF Symbols 4.2
iOS/iPadOS 16.4 beta 1 was released on 16th February 2023. There are very few changes to SF Symbols.
There are 1,222 symbols in the ‘What’s New’ category in SF Symbols v4.2 because it includes all the changes in SF Symbols v4.0 (iOS 16.0) and SF Symbols v4.1 (iOS 16.1). Just four symbols were added in iOS 16.4 beta 1:
These are individual left and right earpieces for the existing symbols showing both pairs. Adaptivity’s optional ‘Availability’ annotation (selected from the Info icon in the bottom right) adds a small
16.4+ annotation to symbols which are new in iOS 16.4. Adaptivity also has an ‘Added’ smart collection which includes just the symbols that have been added in the data set you are viewing:
The four “axel” symbols added in iOS 16.1 have been renamed to use the correct spelling of “axle” in this context. Adaptivity’s version annotation shows
16.4+,16.1 to indicate that the new name is valid from iOS 16.4 onwards but the symbol was added in iOS 16.1. A ‘Renamed’ smart collection includes only the symbols which have been renamed in the data set you are viewing. When there are multiple names, the context menu has a submenu for copying each of the names. You must use the name that was valid in your app’s minimum deployment target:
12.lane symbols added in iOS 16.1 gained Arabic and Hindi localisations in iOS 16.4 beta 1. Adaptivity has an optional ‘Language Localized’ annotation (a globe icon) and a ‘Language Localized’ smart collection includes only the symbols which are localized for language in the data set you are viewing. (There is a separate annotation and smart collection for symbols which have right-to-left localizations. Some symbols have both types of localization.) The individual localized images can also be viewed, each of which highlights the version in which they are available:
Additional Render Modes
list.clipboard symbol added in iOS 16.0 supports the multicolor render mode in iOS 16.4 beta 1. The similar
list.bullet.clipboard symbol already supported this:
Adaptivity has many other features in addition to browsing SF Symbols. It is primarily a tool to visualize the different window sizes, layout margins, readable content guides, bar heights and Dynamic Type sizes that a modern, adaptive, iOS app uses when running on different devices and iPad multitasking sizes.
This is very useful to see how apps which support multitasking behave with the new Stage Manager feature on iPadOS 16.
There are also views for browsing System Colors, System Fonts and System Materials, and a view for exploring iPadOS Pointer Interactions. In iOS/iPadOS 15 you can also configure
UISheetPresentationController options for modally-presented view controllers.
The app is a universal purchase and includes the Mac Catalyst version. On macOS 11 and later, this is “optimised for Mac” with native controls and does not scale content. If you are an iOS developer or designer, I’m sure you will find Adaptivity very useful. Testimonials, more screenshots and information on all the features is available on my web site.
SF Menu Bar
SF Menu Bar is a menu bar app for the Mac which is powered by the same SF Symbol data as Adaptivity. When run on macOS 13.3 beta, it will show symbols added in iOS 16.4/macOS 13.3. More information is available on my web site.
(I’m not running macOS 13.3 beta, so this screenshot does not show the iOS 16.4 data set as being available.)
Other Articles That You Might Like
I have written a series of articles highlighting how apps built with various Xcode versions adapt to new device screen sizes. The most recent is How iOS Apps Adapt to the various iPhone 14 Screen Sizes. Similarly, there are articles discussing changes to view controller appearances or presentations. The most recent is View Controller Presentation Changes in iOS and iPadOS 16.
The search algorithm used in Adaptivity’s System Colors and System Images views is described in A Simple, Smart Search Algorithm for iOS in Swift. I have also written about how to Hide Sensitive Information in the iOS App Switcher Snapshot Image.
If you found any of these articles helpful then please take a look at my apps in the iOS App Store to see if there’s anything that you’d like to download (especially the paid ones 😀).
If you work with a lot of Xcode projects you might like my Mac Menu Bar utility XcLauncher. It’s like having browser bookmarks for your favorite Xcode projects, workspaces, playgrounds, and Swift packages. There is more information on my website about XcLauncher’s features.