Every year around September Apple announces a new iPhone and releases the latest version of iOS. This year is no different. iOS 10, available from the 13th of September, brings some interesting new features that will change how you use iOS devices, especially iPhone.
Updating to iOS 10
Like every version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 10 will be a free update for existing users so long as the device is compatible. If you’ve automatic updates turned on, the iOS device will automatically download the update in the background when it’s connected to Wi-Fi and plugged in. It will constantly nag you to upgrade until you do so.
Apple is finally pulling the plug on the venerable iPhone 4S. The following devices will support iOS 10:
- iPhone 5 on
- iPad Air and Air 2
- iPad Mini 2, 3 and 4
- iPad 4th generation
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch
- iPod touch 6th generation
It’s important to note, however, that many of the biggest new features require 3D Touch to work properly. Any devices without it won’t be able to make full use of all the changes in iOS 10.
A New Lock Screen
The most dramatic change in iOS 10 is the completely overhauled lock screen. Slide to unlock, which has been around since the original iPhone, is gone. Instead the Home button is used to unlock an iPhone.
Now, swiping to the left brings up the Camera while swiping to the right brings up the new Widgets screen.
Notifications have become much more useful. Rather than just being a stream of messages they now have a lot more information and you can interact with them.
3D Touching a notifications brings up extra options. So, for example, if you receive an iMessage you can press on the notification to bring up a keyboard so you can reply directly from the lock screen. Most notifications will have similar kinds of options.
So that you actually see notifications Apple have introduced Raise to Wake. When you pick an iPhone up from the table or remove it from your pocket the screen will turn on. This solves the problem the iPhone 6 had where Touch ID unlocked the phone too fast for you to see what was on the screen.
Widgets has moved from the Notification Centre to their own dedicated screen. You can access it by swiping to the right on either the Lock Screen or Home Screen.
Like notifications, they’ve been made a lot richer and you can now interact with them using 3D Touch. The Widgets also appear when you 3D Touch on the related app icon so you can now do more directly from the Home Screen.
The Siri SDK
The big news for developers is that, as long as their app falls into a certain category, they’re able to connect it to Siri. On launch, you’ll be able to have Siri send commands to apps like Uber and WhatsApp.
Just tell Siri to call you a ride or send a WhatsApp message to Tim Cook and you’re done.
Apple is also claiming that Siri is just getting smarter generally. With two billion queries a week, it’s not surprising that they’ve used all the data to make things better.
An Improved Messages App
Some of the biggest changes are coming to the Messages app which, at least in Europe and Asia, has been under a lot of competition from the likes of Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger.
While Messages has always been functional, it hasn’t had the fun elements of its competitors. To fix that Apple is introducing a Messenger specific App Store as well as many new features.
Apple has added animated effects, Digital Touch (which first appeared on the Apple Watch), rich links so videos and website previews appear in-line, handwritten messages, an emoji predictive system, stickers, and Tapback, a way of quickly responding to messages with an emoji.
All in all, Messages is about to get a lot more fun.
A New Home App
Smart home devices have been gaining traction and Apple has started to push Homekit hard. The new Home app serves as a central hub for all the Homekit smart devices in your house.
Other Updated Apps
Messages isn’t the only stock app getting an update. Photos, Apple Music and Maps are all seeing some nice improvements.
Photos on iOS is getting many of the same new features as the macOS version. It will now scan your photos and, with facial and object recognition algorithms, categorise and tag them. You can then search for something like beach and all the photos you took at a beach will show up.
The new automatically collected Memories is also included.
When Apple Music launched one of the most common criticisms was that it was unintuitive and complicated to use. It was a valid criticism.
Apple appears to have taken that to heart. The newly updated version has a simpler user interface, or UI, and makes it much easier to find new music which has traditionally been one of Spotify’s big selling points.
Maps is also getting some new features. Developers will now be able to integrate their apps directly into Maps with Map Extensions. The app will also learn from your behaviour and make suggestions based on it.
If you regularly drive somewhere at a certain time, it will offer you directions and traffic information. Similarly, Maps will keep track of where you park your car so you can’t forget.
Stock Apps Can Be Deleted
One of the most welcome new features in iOS 10 is that you can now delete the stock apps that come with iOS devices.
Apple has killed Game Centre already but now you’ll finally be able to get rid of the Compass app rather than condemning it to a folder on a distant Home screen.
Apple’s softening stance on this, as well as Siri, is interesting. There is the potential down the line that they might let users select new default apps for things like email.
Tighter Integration With Other Devices
As I mentioned in my article on what’s new in macOS Sierra, Apple has started to more tightly integrate all their devices.
With Universal Copy and Paste, anything you copy on one of your devices is synced to all the others.
From the iCloud Drive app you’re able to access a Mac’s Desktop and Documents folder.
Apple Pay is also now coming to the Web so any purchases you make through it on a Mac will need to be validated from an iPhone.
As iOS has matured there are fewer opportunities for Apple to release huge new features.
Instead, they’ve started iterating and improving existing features. This change in focus is largely a good thing.
iOS 10 is another iterative update that ensures the iPhone’s place as the best smartphone available. You can now do more than ever without losing the simplicity that won the iPhone so many fans.