iOS 10 Features & Recommendations

Later today, Apple will release the first fully public distribution of the next version of their mobile operating system, iOS 10. We’ve been using iOS 10 since the early part of the beta period, and it’s been on my “daily driver” phone for a little more than a month at this point. Apple has made a lot of behavioral refinements in this release, but they’ve also made some wholesale changes to the way your iPhone operates.

Our advice: Wait a few days for all your apps to become compatible, but then upgrade if you have an iPhone 5S or later. Maybe Friday?

(You can stop reading here if you like, but here’s a lot more information about what’s in iOS 10 if you’re curious.)

So, what’s new?

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Intelligence As a Service – The New Lock Screen

Well, your iPhone got a whole lot smarter. The pundits have been pounding on Apple for failing to adopt Google’s mainframe-style intelligence gathering, but Apple has doggedly refused to do so, citing privacy concerns, so what they’ve done to combat this particular problem is to make the engine that runs your device much more capable of machine learning. Your phone is like a deft right hand, providing you information that you need right as you need it. And it’s going to put this information where you need it most often: right on the lock screen itself.

My phone spends much of its day in my pocket or face up on the surface in front of me. The lock screen, since I updated, has been a much bigger part of my life. iOS 10’s lock screen will give you a substantially larger subset of information that has cropped up since the last time you picked up your phone. It might be a case of TMI (Too Much Information), though, and you may want to rethink what applications give you alerts on your lock screen.

One of the biggest changes in iOS 10 is the raise-to-wake feature. If you have an iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, or SE, your phone will automatically light the display when the M9 motion coprocessor notices that your phone has changed orientation, and display the new lock screen that contains rich alerts.

In addition, you will notice that a feature of the iPhone since its initial release is absent: swipe-to-unlock. The unlock is now controlled by the home button, which likely contains your TouchID sensor.

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A swipe from right to left will activate the camera, allowing you to quickly take photos. The time from raise to first picture is under a second. This helps when you need to quickly grab a snap of something amazing. Lift, swipe left, tap shutter.

A swipe from left to right will take you to the revamped Today screen, giving you access to search and app widgets. If your phone is locked, web search is permitted by default, but the phone will not open Safari without an unlock, application data in widgets is permitted to be displayed if locked. If your phone is unlocked, your search results will include contacts, applications, application-specific data, and other information that’s stored on your phone.

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You’re going to want to do a privacy review of what’s available in the Today view, but swipe to the bottom of the screen and you can turn widgets on and off if your phone is unlocked. All of these are designed to show off the machine learning that Apple’s been hard at work on. Google Now has been adept at this particular task, primarily because it had full access to your Gmail, your Google Calendar, and the collected surveillance architecture of Google’s overarching suggestions, and because it could compare its corpus of your data with users all over the place, commingling your data with those of all users everywhere.

iOS 10 (whom I will personify as Siri, and may refer to as such henceforth for ease of explanation) works on a slightly different method. It can read any information on the device itself, but that is the limit of its reach. That data doesn’t go back to Apple, except where it is abstracted with differential privacy, but what it amounts to is the same effect as Google Now can produce. Park your car at your favorite coffee shop to do your morning triage, and Siri takes note. She’ll also give you route directions to your next appointment from the lock screen, or, more interestingly, to where she thinks you’re going next even if there’s nothing else on your calendar. Since iOS 8 or so, iOS has been using Location Services to identify what’s around you, and keep track of what’s nearby where you are. This information, unlike its counterpart on Android, never leaves the phone and is only available to the device to suggest related activities and information.

Maps – Huge Improvements

Maps in iOS 10 is a much more interesting experience, in the best sense of things. If you’ve been using only Waze or Google Maps, that’s understandable, but I’m here to tell you: it’s safe to switch back to Apple Maps. Here are a couple screenshots from the latest version:

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Maps will offer you suggested destinations based on your activity history and your calendar, as well as identify your parked vehicle (especially for those who pair with a car stereo or a bluetooth system). In addition, Maps will offer contextual suggestions for off-route detours (like for coffee, breakfast, or gas) as well as alternate routes in the event of traffic problems. And, for the first time, if you’re using (iOS 10 versions of) Uber or Lyft, you can place your ride request directly from the Maps app, allowing you to transmit the entire destination process directly to Uber, Lyft, or other ride-hailing apps.

Messages – All New Features

In addition to the refinements to Maps, there have been wholesale changes to iOS Messages. If you’ve used other messaging services like Snapchat, Viber, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger, there have been advancements on other platforms with things like message effects, quick replies, and hidden messages (think scratch-off!)

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Messages will support sticker pack apps from the App Store (and if you want to build one of your very own, please reach out! You can easily build these in-house without difficulty, and make them available on the store for public use, or just use them internally.) as well as digital touch reactions that began on the Apple Watch. You can send taps or heartbeats, or scrawled drawings, as well as rich messages that include URL Previews for web links, or short videos via Messages. These will also work in macOS Sierra when it’s released next week.

It’s Out Now!

iOS 10 is available today via the Software Update mechanism in your iPhone and iPad. If you have an iPhone 5S, 6 or 6S, this is an excellent update. If you have an iPhone 5 or prior, we would strongly recommend updating your handset to the iPhone SE, 7 or 7 Plus.

Our advice is to wait a few days before applying it, as the rush to upgrade may place your phone into a state where it’s waiting for Apple’s activation servers to grant your device access after the reboot. In addition, many applications will need to be updated to take new features into use. We are expecting many popular applications to be updated in the first wave of releases that have already started to hit the App Store, however, if there are mission critical applications to your organization, we strongly recommend not upgrading before you’ve tested a device with the new update.

If this simply wasn’t enough reading for your day, I would strongly recommend Federico Viticci’s review of iOS 10, which took him three months to write, and is longer than some short stories. It is comprehensive in its scope and fathomless in its depth. Enjoy.

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