First Look: New Features of iOS 10
During a live-streamed event in early June, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced iOS 10, referring to the software upgrade for iPhones and iPads as the “mother of all new releases.”
That may be hyperbole, but I came away astonished at some of the ways Apple has taken familiar apps, and Siri, to a new level. From using Siri to hail an Uber, to making a restaurant reservation within the Maps app, to transforming words into emojis in iMessage, iOS 10 offers you a lot more power—and fun.
New Capabilities: Siri, iMessage, and Maps Open to Developers
When Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, it was a closed system. Only Apple could make apps for it. Users and developers clamored for the tech giant to open things up, and the result was a revolution. However, Apple's own apps were still off limits. Developers could make third-party apps, but they couldn't add features to Apple's apps. iOS 10 changes that. Apple has given developers access to Siri, iMessage, and Maps.
In iOS 10, you can say to Siri, “Send a WeChat to Nancy saying I'll be five minutes late.” Siri will know to open the WeChat app, get the contact info, enter the message, and send it to Nancy.
Other examples include using Siri to search photo apps such as Shutterfly, control exercise apps such as Runtastic, book a car via Uber or Lyft, and make calls via VoIP apps like Skype.
In addition, iMessage will never be the same. A new App Store for iMessage will offer lots of add-ons for things like sending money and playing games. Stickers, for example, let you put small, animated cartoon characters on text bubbles and photos.
The capabilities of the Maps app will explode as developers create apps that work from within Maps. You can book a table at a restaurant through an app such as OpenTable. You can
book a ride with Uber, watch the progress of the car as it approaches you, and make your payment with Apple Pay.
Greater Smarts: Photos & QuickType Become More Intelligent
Artificial intelligence is a central feature of iOS 10. Apple has dramatically ramped up the capabilities of the Photos app with a feature it calls advanced computer vision. The Photos app recognizes what's in your photos, whether it be your aunt, mountains, a beach, or a puppy. It automatically groups them into categories, creating albums of similar photos. The Memories feature clusters photos to help surface memories of events, people, and places that are significant to you. Of course, you can also search your photos based on this intelligent sorting by the app.
In addition, the app has a fun new feature in the Memories tab that not only uses the artificial intelligence of Photos to bring together images and movies according to events and places, but will automatically create a video montage of select photos and video clips with music, titles, and transitions. You can adjust the length and also select from different themes such as epic, gentle, or uplifting. The Photos app then re-edits the video on the fly.
QuickType, the predictive feature of your iDevice's onscreen keyboard, is also a lot smarter. The predictions use Siri's intelligence to make better guesses based on context: such as what you're doing that day or where you're located. If, for example, someone sends you a text message asking where you are, QuickType will offer to send your current location, which you can then do with a tap.
In iOS 10, QuickType is also smarter regarding other languages, thanks to a feature called multilingual typing. It recognizes the language you're typing in and will use the appropriate characters—without you having to switch keyboards.
Maps is also smarter, with a proactive feature that makes suggestions regarding where you're likely to go and tells you the fastest way to get there. These suggestions may be based on your routine or on items in your Calendar.
You can slide up from the bottom to reveal a pane with suggestions from the app. Select the restaurant icon, and you'll be able to scroll horizontally through a list of options. Once you've identified a destination, the app can search for places such as gas stations or restaurants. If you choose to stop someplace, the app will tell you how much longer your trip will take as a result.
More Fun: Dazzling New Features in iMessage
Apple's new OS is not only smarter and more capable, it's also more playful. And nowhere is this more evident than in iMessage. Apple has added a bunch of new features that liven up your conversations.
Emojis can now be three times larger, and iMessage has a feature that makes it easier to add them into your texts. Remember scrolling through page after page of emojis to find the right one? With iOS 10, words that can be replaced by emojis will turn yellow; just tap the word to replace it with a relevant emoji.
Also, a TapBack feature lets you reply to a text with one of six quick responses, such as a thumbs up or a heart. And with new tools you can send fireballs, heartbeats, sketches, and videos you can draw over.
The new rich links feature replaces web links in your messages with an inline image of the website itself. If there's a link to a video, the video itself will play within your message so you don't have to leave the app.
And say goodbye to the boring, static bubbles that contain your conversations. The bubble effect feature gives you a range of dynamic text bubbles to choose from. If, for example, you feel like shouting, you can choose a bubble that blasts large onto the screen and then shrinks to regular size. You'll also be able to part with the boring background of your conversation, since iMessage in iOS 10 lets you insert fullscreen animations such as fireworks that appear temporarily in the background of your conversation. You can add a touch of mystery with the Invisible Ink feature, which obscures your message with a swarm of lively dots. The recipient swipes across the dots to reveal the message.
And should you feel like writing a message in your own hand, you can do that too. The recipient sees the message appear as if you're writing it across the person's display.
Complete Makeover: Redesigned Lock Screen and Music
The iPhone's lock screen came in for a makeover. You can wake your phone just by picking it up. Also, notifications are more interactive. Using 3D Touch, you can respond to a message right from the lock screen and view the entire conversation without leaving the lock screen. Plus, it's open to third-party apps. For example, if you have a call coming in from a third-party calling app, you'll be able to see the caller's photo on the lock screen.
Also available from the lock screen is a newly designed and expanded Control Center. It includes multiple panes including the usual Settings page, a dedi-
cated Music page, and smart home page that you can swipe through. During Apple's demo of the Home pane in June, they showed how it would work if you have a security camera as a HomeKit accessory. When someone rings your doorbell, you can view the person's face right from your lock screen.
Gone from lock screen is swipe to unlock. Instead, if you swipe right, you have a new screen that displays your widgets. Swipe left to summon the Camera app.
Apple also completely reconceptualized the organization and appearance of the Music app, making it less cluttered and more intuitive. Plus, you can view lyrics as you listen to a song. And the app makes it easier to discover new music you like by offering daily curated playlists related to your taste. Beats 1 radio also has a new interface and now features genre-based stations.
More Functionality: New Features in News and Phone
Apple's built-in apps have a lot of useful new features. We'll take a look at some favorites in News and Phone.
The newly designed News app has a For You screen divided into categories such as top news, trending stories, sports, and featured stories, as well as categories related to your specific interests.
The app also offers subscriptions, such that you'll be able to subscribe to and read publications such as National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal from within the app. Plus, the app offers breaking news notifications.
In the Phone app in iOS 10, you have the ability to receive transcripts of your voicemail messages. In addition, the new app can identify voicemail spam, which is getting to be a problem in countries such as China.
In addition, iOS 10 tracks what apps you like to use to call particular people, and is better integrated with other calling apps such as Skype. When you access a contact, you'll be able to select which app you'd like to use to call that person.
New App: Home App Controls HomeKit Devices
Finally, iOS 10 comes with a new app, Home, which lets you control all your HomeKit accessories. You'll also be able to create and control scenes, and use Siri to interact with them. Depending on the accessories you have, you can say “Good Night” to Siri, and your doors will lock, shades will close, and lights will go off.
Other new features in iOS 10 include further cross-device integration with a Mac via Continuity. You can copy text or an image on one device and paste it into the other. If you order something online with your Mac, you'll be able to use Touch ID on your iPhone to pay for it.
The Notes app now has a collaboration feature, and the Remote app has been completely redesigned so it works just like the Siri Remote that comes with Apple TV. A new feature for the iPad is Split View in Safari, so you can view two webpages side by side. And the new iPad app Swift Playgrounds teaches you how to use Apple's free Swift programming language to create apps.
Overall, iOS 10 is a real treat for iPhone and iPad users. It's been available since July as a public beta, and the final version will be available in September.