Should you in­stall iOS 10?

There are rea­sons to go for it and rea­sons to wait. Susie Ochs looks at your op­tions

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Let’s cut right to the chase: The peo­ple who will en­joy the iOS 10 beta the most are iPhone 6s or 6s Plus users who don’t rely heav­ily on the Maps app, which is now a bat­tery hog. If you have a de­vice with­out 3D Touch, or an iPad that isn’t an iPad Pro, the ben­e­fits of iOS 10 are a lit­tle less, which makes wait­ing for the fi­nal re­lease (or even, say, 10.01) all the more tempt­ing.

Don’t get me wrong: The first de­vel­oper beta of iOS 10 was rel­a­tively sta­ble, and the first pub­lic beta is too. The big­gest bugs I’ve per­son­ally en­coun­tered were an­noy­ing but not deal-breakers: Maps crash­ing dur­ing nav­i­ga­tion, Maps not end­ing the nav­i­ga­tion when I ar­rive, alarms that don’t want

to turn off (quite em­bar­rass­ing when it hap­pens in an open-plan of­fice), and a weird graph­i­cal glitch where oc­ca­sion­ally the lockscreen-ac­ces­si­ble cam­era would only take up half the screen in­stead of the whole thing.

I’ve been run­ning the be­tas on an iPhone SE on loan from Ap­ple, which I use as my daily carry phone. In my bag is an iPhone 6s that I bought on in­stal­ments, still run­ning iOS 9, ready for me to swap in my SIM card if I run into trou­ble with the SE. Hasn’t hap­pened – aside from those bugs I men­tioned and gen­er­ally worse bat­tery life, iOS 10 has been great. But while I didn’t used to think the iPhone SE’s lack of 3D Touch was a big deal, iOS 10 is show­ing it to be a pretty sig­nif­i­cant weak­ness.

Just a 3D Touch

iOS 10’s big­gest dif­fer­ence over iOS 9 is how much you can do with­out open­ing apps. Some apps will be able to in­te­grate with Siri, so you could, say, call a car with­out hav­ing to launch Lyft. No­ti­fi­ca­tions are get­ting richer, let­ting you 3D Touch to get more in­for­ma­tion or take ac­tion.

And the wid­gets that used to be con­fined to the To­day view in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­ter are now also on the Spot­light screen you see when swip­ing right from the lock screen or home screen. Wid­gets let you get in­for­ma­tion at a glance with­out open­ing apps, like the next hour’s fore­cast from Dark Sky, progress to­ward your ac­tiv­ity goals, your next cal­en­dar appointment.

Wid­gets are just as handy no mat­ter what phone you have. But get­ting them is done dif­fer­ently. On

an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, you can 3D Touch app icons to get Quick Ac­tions, which are short­cuts to var­i­ous places in­side the app – that fea­ture launched with iOS 9. In iOS 10, hard-press­ing app icons shows any Quick Ac­tions plus a wid­get for that app, if avail­able, and you can add the wid­get to your Spot­light screen from there.

If you have an iPhone SE, 6, or any iPad, of course you don’t have 3D Touch. You can still see the en­hanced, ac­tion­able no­ti­fi­ca­tions by swip­ing one left and tap­ping View, but that doesn’t feel much more con­ve­nient than just tap­ping the no­ti­fi­ca­tion it­self to open the app. And you can add wid­gets to the line-up by scrolling to the bot­tom of the Spot­light screen and tap­ping Edit for a list of avail­able wid­gets, but that’s the same process as in iOS 9.

Maps looks great, but at a cost

Ap­ple redesigned its Maps app for iOS 10. The new one is good look­ing and easy to use. I put it through its paces on a Mid­west­ern va­ca­tion in which we stayed in four cities over eight nights – yeah, that’s a lot of driv­ing. Maps han­dled free­ways and coun­try roads alike, and never steered me wrong or couldn’t find an ad­dress I in­putted. It just crashed a lot.

When it wasn’t crash­ing, Maps made my iPhone SE very hot to the touch, and had a no­tice­able ef­fect on bat­tery life. Plus, some­times I’d get to my destination, but the nav­i­ga­tion ses­sion didn’t au­to­mat­i­cally end. I’d glance at my Ap­ple Watch after be­ing some­where a while, and no­tice, oops, it’s still try­ing to direct me here, with the GPS run­ning and drain­ing bat­tery life by the minute. I

had to get in the habit of tap­ping End Route upon ar­rival if the nav­i­ga­tion didn’t stop on its own.

The Maps app it­self is great. The maps are clear and easy to read. The interface isn’t clut­tered at all. You see the ar­rival time as well as the min­utes and miles to go, and from there you can swipe up for but­tons to find gas sta­tions, food, or cof­fee along the route, an Over­view but­ton that shows the whole route on a map, a De­tails but­ton that shows a list of up­com­ing turns, and an Au­dio menu. One nice touch here is a new set­ting to pause spo­ken au­dio (like pod­casts or au­dio­books) dur­ing nav­i­ga­tional prompts. Pre­vi­ously, the prompts would just dim the au­dio be­low them, which is fine for mu­sic but a bum­mer when it’s talk­ing over a pod­cast and you need to scrub back to hear what was said.

So the de­sign is solid, the data was solid in my test­ing, and the bugs I en­coun­tered felt typ­i­cal of beta soft­ware. I’m con­fi­dent Ap­ple can surely fix them with up­dates. But if you rely on the Maps app fre­quently, you might want to hold off on iOS 10 un­til the ride is a lit­tle less bumpy. We’ll have a deeper dive on Maps early next week.

Ver­dict

If putting a beta of iOS 10 on your ev­ery­day iPhone seems too risky, slap­ping it on your iPad might be a safer bet. You’ll get to play with the new Mes­sages app, the new lock screen wid­gets, and the redesigned Pho­tos, News, and Mu­sic. But iOS 10 is cu­ri­ously light on iPad-spe­cific fea­tures, espe­cially if you don’t have an iPad Pro or at least an iPad Air 2 (which can do Split View). Beta soft­ware is fun, but a lit­tle risky to put on de­vices you rely on

ev­ery day. If you have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, and you don’t mind some app crashes here and there, thin of the pub­lic beta like a train­ing ses­sion for the new ges­tures and nav­i­ga­tion short­cuts. By the time it launches to every­one else in the fall, you’ll be a 3D Touch ninja.

Even the bugs I en­coun­tered in Maps in iOS 10 while nav­i­gat­ing the wilds of Kent didn’t ham­per my ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m glad I put the beta on my ev­ery­day iPhone (even with­out 3D Touch), and I have no de­sire to roll back to iOS 9. But there’s no shame in wait­ing, espe­cially if you don’t want to have to be hy­per­vig­i­lant about back­ing up your de­vices just in case of dis­as­ter. iOS 10 will be fully ready to shake up all of our lock screens soon enough.

With­out 3D Touch, you can still see the en­hanced no­ti­fi­ca­tions, but swip­ing and tap­ping View is a lot clunkier than a sin­gle deep-press

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