One of Apple’s greatest hits in history has been iOS. Introduced by Steve Jobs with the iPhone in 2007, iOS has become a benchmark and inspiration for a variety of other mobile operating systems. This year marks iOS’ tenth edition: iOS 10, and gosh it is exciting.
The idea behind iOS 10, I believe, is to keep the OS consistent with the legendary simplicity of iOS while bringing in some complex new features that redefine your interaction with your iDevice. The below 10 points are exactly what Apple announced at WWDC today regarding the next big iOS:
1. Experience - The aesthetic beauty of iOS is its easy to use interface. But how do you extend functionality to beyond the current potential? By adding the third layer of interaction - 3D Touch. 3D Touch is a crucial part of iOS 10 (sorry, iPhone 6 and below users) and is included in a lot of areas throughout the OS experience, starting with the lock screen. Now, the lock screen automatically comes on when you lift up your phone - no buttons required. From there, you can directly interact with your notifications: 3D Touch to reply to a message or track your Uber on a map! You swipe left to open the camera app and right to open widgets (Yes! Those things you added to your Notification Centre!).
On your home screen, you can 3D Touch onto apps to open full widgets - see a weather update, scores of a game or the location of your Uber. From here, you can interact with the widgets and even add them to your Notification Centre.
Control Centre is also getting an update. Now Control Centre has multiple pages - one for basic settings toggles, one for Music and one for HomeKit controls.
2. Siri - First up, Siri is open to developers. Yes, you can finally say “Book an Uber” or “Buy me a pair of Crocs” and Siri will reply with third-party integrations. Siri can now also integrate with CarPlay so you can ask it to set your favourite radio station or even ask it to open your garage door. With the Intense API, developers can easily set up natural language processing for the commands they’ll receive from Siri users. Siri has become a fast, convenient (and safe) way to interact with your phone.
3. QuickType keyboard - With Siri predictions built right into QuickType, Apple’s default keyboard app can now understand context and suggest accordingly. For example, you friend messages you asking “Where are you?” and QuickType’s Siri will suggest you to send your location and you can do so in one click. The keyboard will also suggest emojis and will dynamically adjust your language based on the context of the conversation.
4. Photos - The photos app on the iPhone is a little underwhelming, because it cannot organise your photos properly. Well, Apple just changed that with Photos on iOS 10 (and macOS Sierra). The new Photos app will categories photos in ‘Moments’, each with their own compilation of photos and videos. These Moments can be based on location and time, but can also be categorised by topics like “beach” or “mountains”. The Photos app will scan every photo and video you take and put it into one or more Moments. This is done by running over 11 billion computations over every picture (and this is done right on the device, not on Apple’s servers!) to understand the features in the picture. This is object and scene recognition on the new Photos app.
5. Maps - The default Maps app on iOS is one of the worst rated apps in the history of the OS. Apple has hence redesigned the Maps app on iOS 10 to include smart suggestions based on location, time and calendar events. Maps is also open for developers, so when a user searches for a place such as a restaurant, the app can respond with a card from, say, Zomato. Then a Lyft can be called right within the Maps app to take you to the location. And while exploring new places, filters are available to further narrow down your search. This experience is also extended to your car via CarPlay.
6. Apple Music - With over 15 million paying users in one year, Apple Music can be considered a success. And the clunky app that controls this music streaming service is completely refreshed in iOS 10. Apple stole features like ‘Discovery Mix’ and Top Charts from Spotify and put them right in front on the For You and Browse (replacing the ’New’) tabs. The app is clean and simple to use and emphasises on the music rather than on managing it. The app opens with your library, and you can explore the other tabs just like you can today. Now, the music player shows lyrics. Overall, Apple has made big strides in the delivery experience and I can’t wait to try it!
7. News - The News app hasn’t ever caught up with other dedicated news apps, but now promises to change the story. Apart from the redesigned icon, you get a simpler layout with categories. News can send you notifications for breaking stories. You can even subscribe to magazines like National Geographic and read all their stories right within the News app.
8. HomeKit and ‘Home’ App - As more and more IoT products are supporting HomeKit, Apple is unifying them under the all new Home app on iOS 10. The Home app contains a bunch of toggles for all your HomeKit enabled devices and scenes like ‘Night’ that toggle multiple buttons to lock your door, roll the shades down and dim your lights when you sleep. Siri can, as before, control toggles in this app. Apple also says that the Apple TV will be the hub for HomeKit at our home, so you can control and access all HomeKit enabled accessories over the internet safely via the Apple TV box.
9. Phone - As surprising as this may sound, the Phone is getting some solid updates. For once, your voicemails can be read as transcripts automatically converted by the app. Extensions can be made for the phone app so for example when a call is incoming, it can refer to TrueCaller and display unknown callers (finally!). And yet another much needed feature is proper ‘accept call’ for VoIP apps like Skype. Now, rather than a ringing notification, you get a full iOS style call receive screen to slide and accept the call.
10. Messages - The Messages overhaul is, honestly, too complicated to explain. Apple borrowed features from Facebook Messenger, Google Allo (which isn’t even out yet), Hike and WeChat. You get stickers and third-party widgets to send fun on Messages. Links will be displayed along with a preview picture and videos will autoplay. You can increase or decrease the size of your text to match the intensity and tone of the message. You can individually react to a picture. The emoji keyboard will convert typed words into substitutable emojis (R.I.P. English). You can create hidden messages with ‘Invisible Texts’ and draw out your message with ‘Digital Touch’. There are some more features, but I don’t want to confuse you. Basically, it’s awesome but complicated.
And that’s one of the biggest updates to iOS! iOS 10 has kept me interested in this operating system and the iDevice ecosystem.
I’d call the iOS 10 update ‘Androidification of iOS’ and yes, Apple did copy way too much from its competition. But what else could a company do when the users love these features?
iOS 10 will be available this fall, but there is also a Public Beta starting this July.
Also read: 7 major announcements from Google I/O 2016
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