It’s that time again, time to hit the update button on your iPad and iPhone, this time around you’ll be receiving iOS 10!
Thanks to the early release of the public Beta of iOS 10, not to mention the developer beta, we’ve been playing with the new version of Apple’s mobile software for a few months now. The good news, if you’ve been following along, there is not a ton that has changed since we last visited the OS, let’s recap and see what’s new.
iOS 10 was announced on June 13, 2016 at the beginning of the Apple WWDC developer conference. Available first as a developer preview, then made available to all in the new Beta program, the final release hit devices starting on September 13th, 2016. Scroll to the bottom to see if your device is on the compatibility list.
I think it important that we first share our feelings that iOS 10 is more of a refinement update to the features previously released in iOS 9. There are certainly more system app updates than there are new apps built in to the OS. Nonetheless, there are a few things that we think seasoned iOS users will enjoy in iOS 10, just hit your settings to get the update for yourself.
As promised, Apple has packed in a healthy number of app improvements and system updates to help you get more from your iPad. iOS 10 has a list of updated apps that includes Maps, Photos, Music, news and more. Better than this, there are new APIs for developers to tie in deeper to the OS, expect to see new Siri and Messages features rolling out from the community soon.
Home automation also receives a big update this time around, the new Home app is an early example of how apps can better utilize Siri and improved device security.
Let’s take a look at a few of the features.
Memories now in Photos
If you’re a big photo taker with your iPad, you’ll notice a section in the Photos app called Memories. The premise is simple enough, the app runs through your photos on device and collates collections of like photos. The resulting albums are auto-generated and will contain all your photos from the trip to the zoo last weekend, or from that family outing to the racetrack.
Best of all, look for new albums that contain your best photos of the year, a selection of the best from specific calendar years.
I must admit that this is a fantastic feature. I have photos uploading to Google Photos as I write this, the frequent notification that there is a new animation, movie or collage to explore is proving more fun that I’d have imagined. This sort of functionality is more than welcome on my iOS powered devices as well, even if only creating albums for now.
New look for Maps
With a focus on security and reliability, Apple is pushing forward on their mapping as well, this update includes a new interface, with more intuitive controls for navigation, and makes room for extensions that allow for things like a basic search while navigating.
I must admit Apple Maps has come a long, long way since the early days of the service, navigation is smoother than I remember on previous iterations, and the overall layout of the app does streamline things, even if I don’t like how it includes a list of locations in the left sidebar the way it does.
Animated and personalized Messages
We made short work of the available tools in our video review, but the updates to messaging are pretty impressive, actually. In a lot of ways, if there is a tool, feature or technique available in another messaging app, Apple tried to squeeze it in here. Siri is the key to success, integrating web searches and other web tools right into your conversation. Book a table for dinner, order movies tickets and more without leaving the chat.
Beyond the function, there are more than a few enhancements on the visual front – video, animations, stickers, emoji, invisible ink and more are coming to a conversation near you. To the next level, handwritten notes add unmatched personal flare.
One of my favorite additions to messaging in iOS 10 has to be the Tapback. Tapback is a the fastest way to respond to chats, as it can be done with a few quick clicks, no typing. Canned and contextually aware messages populate, allowing you to tap a selection and send without the need of the keyboard.
Finally, watch for new and exciting features and plugins coming from the developer community, this is another of the APIs that are open for development.
Siri is now open for developers
Didn’t I just say something about open APIs? In a move that is somewhat surprising to some, developers can take advantage of the power of Siri for their processes, as well as build plugins to work on top of Siri themselves.
Let’s keep expectations in check, what this ultimately means is that more restaurants can build their menu, table reservations and takeout order processing into Siri commands. These, in turn, can feed into those new messaging tools we talk about above. Aside from the food example, this can add voice activated actions to any app, available through the Siri interface. Apple used the example of controlling Carplay apps while on the road, but this can go beyond, the future of voice activated computing is here, at least by way of the mobile device in your hand.
It has floored me how protective Apple, Amazon and Google have been over their ‘personal assistant’ services. I admit that it was important to keep control in the early days, to careful build the image of their services, but preventing these voice input tools from deeply integrating with other apps and services has only lead to other tools being created. Either that, or users just gave up on the services other than as a novelty or random quick internet search.
Opening APIs to developers is very exciting to me, if nothing else, having voice triggered actions to perform any number of fun and productive activities should prove invaluable.
New Home app for home automation
With more and more home automation tools hitting the market, people are finding creative ways to turn on the lights in their home. Apple is hoping to ease the process, instead of requiring an individual app for each smart device in your world, the new Home app promises to bring it all together. Control your home from Home, or is it ‘one device to rule them all!?’
HomeKit may be familiar to you, Apple is simply providing a single user interface on the front end of things. check out Home when you get your update to iOS 10.
We did not go in-depth with the Home app ourselves, as we do not have any of the supported smart home hardware kicking around yet, but we’ll be sure to expand on this when we get that opportunity.
Delete songs to Optimize Storage
Optimize Storage is a new setting that will remove music from your device when storage space gets low. I understand the approach, these songs are synced via iTunes, so they are not being deleted, just un-synced, as it were. I do wish the process was not as automated as it is, or single-minded in only deleting music, but ensuring that new photos are able to be captured is a reasonable tradeoff for having to resync some tunes.
With the new option of 256GB of storage on the latest devices, we hope you do not run into a full device any time soon. That said, for those of you opting for 32GB of storage, keep in mind that those 4K video recordings add up quick, you’ll actually get the chance to try out the feature before me, hit the comments below to let me know how it goes.
Lift to wake
Can’t be bothered to click a button or two to turn on your device? No worries, Apple is putting your iOS 10 powered device’s internal sensors to work. Lift your device from a stationary table or desk to light the display, just be aware that not all devices are supported.
This is such a double edged sword of functionality. Battery life is the obvious first thing to suffer, but often I think you’ll find that the feature becomes a real nuisance while on the go. If you carry your iPad on top of a stack of books while walking the halls, as an example, I find it to wake constantly, even if not fully lifted to face like the instructions explain. The real problem here, again in my limited use-case, your hand is on the screen, and so the display doesn’t just pop on for a moment, it activates further with each touch, possibly with unintended consequences.
Smaller updates with a big impact
Apple Music and Apple News have both undergone a small visual overhaul. Truth is, like it or not, there is nothing much to report here. Go check out the new designs, you’ll find them easier to navigate, sure, but otherwise just a little cleaned up around the edges.
A major little update is the addition of support for VoIP calls for third-parties. Are you familiar with the Google Hangouts Dialer on Android? One of my favorite tools, especially when calling internationally. There are already calling services on your iOS device, but I’m excited to see more coming soon.
The Phone app gets some added boost as well, spam detection is on deck thanks to caller ID integration, and voicemails have a new trick, watch for transcriptions of those messages. I must admit that I’ve been using this feature on Google services for a while now, it is fairly accurate, but almost always has a treat or two to share. That is, you’d think the sender was having auto-monkey issues… No, I meant arto correct. Wait, oh, forget it.
Smaller updates roll out to a few apps and features as well. Not much to say other than report that there is a change in Safari, Notes, an update to Split-view for iPad and more. Refinements to the apps and features, plus bug fixes, make for an overall better polished user experience, but do you see what’s changed?
Apple Pay purchases on the web. While we are giving iOS 10 credit for this update, the real news is that Apple is expanding Apple Pay services to online shopping. Still secured by your fingerprint, shopping in Safari on your mobile device let’s you safely and easily spend money.
For those that hate to type out every message in their world, the new QuickType feature is a bit of a great thing. Don’t get me wrong, we’re talking about predictive text auto-completion as you type, not exactly new, but as you may have noticed in the Messaging section above, we’re talking about suggestions for emoji and other contextually based test responses here.
The contextual predictions are more important than they sound, at least I think they are. Thing is, this is where Apple rather unobtrusively displays whether or not they have an understanding of your typical word usage, your usual human interactions and how they think you spend your time and money.
In the example for the Siri integration, the presenter uses third-party integration to order burritos and book a reservation at a restaurant. These are very cool things to do, but if you are like me, you haven’t needed to make a reservation in years and your local burrito vendor only accepts cash. If these are the things that Apple thinks I am doing with my life, then I worry what the predictive text in Siri will produce. Time to dive in to see how it goes.
The last specific addition to iOS 10 that we’ll speak of is the addition of a bedtime timer. An alarm not intended to wake you up, instead, a smart timer that notifies you when it might be smart to go to bed. Easy enough to see your current alarm and suggest you get to sleep 8-10 hours ahead of that, I just hope it is not as rigid aws Microsoft’s new Active Hours timer for auto-updates. Some of us are either on the PC, or have it working on projects while we’re away for much longer than the max. 12 hours they think we limit ourselves – Let’s go back to letting me decide when to restart my computer, thank you very much!
Sorry, way off course there, my point is, I do not work a regular schedule, my bed time is not the same as most normal people, and my wake-up time differs accordingly. If this bedtime timer disturbs my dinner to try to convince me to go to sleep, I’m just going to turn it off. I hope it does great things for you though.
As we mentioned, iOS 10 has been rolling out to devices for a while now. Actually, iOS 10.0.2 is now the flavor of choice, at least on the iPad.
Based on the features and functions we’ve been playing with in the Beta stream, iOS 10 is shaping up to be a reliable, fast and feature-rich operating system. There are more hidden features and tweaks than ever before, all with the goal of improved speeds and effortless computing. Under the banner of Siri, your iOS powered device is becoming a surprisingly capable tool for your real life, in addition to your online existence.
Ordering a burrito with a few quick taps on the screen shouldn’t change our existence too much, but we’ll see.
Despite Apple’s claims that this is the largest iOS update ever, I am still left with the feeling that tweaks were the name of the game. iOS 9 introduced multi-tasking functionality, News and a few other new apps and services. iOS 10 brought stickers and an impressive emoji database to your conversations. I don’t know about you, but one of those feels a little more substantial from a platform perspective. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the new Siri APIs influencing where developers go next will be the ‘big’ in this release.
Whether big, innovative, revolutionary or just a plain old iterative update, iOS 10 is off to a good start in our books.
Be sure to stay tuned, we’ll be exploring iOS 10 as we go, particularly on the iPhone 7. Until then, what are your thoughts on the new OS so far?