Got an iPhone? Then you’ll want to hear about Apple’s big plans for it - iOS 10 is coming, and it’s bringing some major changes.
The new OS got revealed on stage at WWDC this week, and while it might not land on your phone until later this year, developers will be spamming that download button tonight so you’ve got plenty of apps to look forward to.
In the meantime, we’ve got a primer on all things iOS 10. Scroll on down to find out what’s new.
1. Messages <3 emoji now
Want a one word summary of Apple’s greatest innovation for iOS 10? Emoji, and we’re only half-joking.
The formerly sober, if efficient Messages app has been transformed into something that’s vibrant and fun. That means emoji display in a larger format than ever before, you can comment on messages with emoji and change individual words in a text to emoji with a couple of taps. Seriously, Apple has gone all in those yellow nuggets of joy making Messages a lot more akin to WhatsApp or Slack than its formerly straight-faced guise.
This philosophy extends to more complex stuff like replying to messages with a full screen effect (laser machines, balloons and bursts of confetti are all available) or hiding the content of a message with ‘Invisible Ink’ that you can swipe away. Granted, some of these new features are immensely twee but they go a long way towards making Messages a distinctive app with its own identity rather than something you use out of sheer obligation.
Apple’s also made some more practical tweaks to Messages that iPhone users will no doubt appreciate. You can get rich links to a website (a.k.a. the ones where that preview a web page’s headline and lead image), the ability to play videos within the app and send hand-written messages.
If you’re most excited about the emoji, then that’s OK. Apple is too.
2. Kick Stocks off your iPhone, finally
iPhone owners have been itching to get rid of Apple’s own apps from their device since it first launched. Eight years later, you finally can.
All the major iOS apps, including Mail, Weather and Contacts, are now available to download through Apple’s App Store, meaning they can be updated individually by Apple and deleted by you as well. So you no longer need to download a whole new version of iOS simply to see a refreshed Notes and can also give Stocks a long-awaited boot off your 16GB of storage. It’s a win-win situation.
3. Siri’s made some new friends
After a somewhat shaky start, Siri has rapidly cemented itself (or herself, or himself, depending on your preferences) as an integral part of the iOS experience. And from the sounds of it, your favourite sassy AI assistant is only going to get more useful in iOS 10, because Apple has finally opened it up to developers.
That means you can now tell Siri to text your mates not just in Apple’s own Messages app, but in WeChat or WhatsApp or Slack.
It means you can tell her to call your cousin in Australia on Skype, pin a recipe your like on your Pinterest board, or ask her to find you an Uber when it’s 1am and you’re pretty sure you’ve missed the last train home.
The possibilities are vast here, and again, it’s great news for people who don’t like pushing buttons – or who are using CarPlay and don’t want to take their hands off the wheel.
4. 3D Touch has its finger on the button
We’d always suspected that 3D Touch would prove to be like Touch ID, underwhelming on first impressions but great once Apple learnt how to get the best from it. That certainly seems to be the case with iOS 10, with a host of lock screen features having been added to the innovation.
You can now reply and keep track of a Messages convo, check the status of your Uber and get further detail from your notification without having to unlock your iPhone. Just hard press down on the relevant pronouncement and to get familiar with its contents.
And there are further tweaks to 3D Touch once you’ve logged into your phone with the ability to watch video highlights, or view the number of unread messages you have from your most used contacts. So Apple’s getting the hang of its pressure sensitive tech, and just in time too.
5. Raise to wake holds it high
If you hate physically pressing buttons, you’re going to love iOS 10’s “raise to wake” feature, which uses your iPhone motion sensors to turn on the screen when you pick it up. You’ll see notifications and messages without having to tap the home button – saving precious energy you’ll need later in the day.
You’ll also be able swipe right from the lock screen to open the camera app straight up, which sounds marginally faster and easier than the current “swipe up from the bottom-right corner” gesture.
6. Apple Music is starting to sing
Music Apple Music has had a solid, if unspectacular, start to life and a big part of its problem has been the way it looks.
Frankly, it’s a bit of a mess. Mercifully, it’s getting a spruce up in iOS 10 - much cleaner, much simpler and we expect much easier to use.
As well as those cosmetic improvements it also now has a Spotify-aping curated playlist on the For You tab, although actually it may well turn out to be ‘Spotify-beating’ given that it’s daily rather than weekly. Oh, and Apple Music Connect, the fairly rubbish social music thing, appears to be dead. Thank heavens for that.
7. There's no place like Home
It looks like Apple is getting serious about the smart home with iOS 10, adding a new app to your homescreen called, funnily enough, Home.
You’ll be able to control all your Homekit-enabled tech from one place, with different Scenes making multiple changes with a single tap. Time to head for bed? One press and the doors lock, thermostat tops up the temperature, and the blinds close - assuming you’ve already given control of your home over to the robots.
Got a smart doorbell? You’ll be able to see who’s calling from the iPhone lockscreen, without having to jump into an app first. You’ll also get geofencing, so the lights could come on automatically as you’re walking up the drive after work.
You can customise Home with your own wallpaper, and all your accessories can be found in the one place - no matter who made them. It’s about time HomeKit actually turned into something simple you can use every day, and Home looks like it’ll be just the ticket.
8. Phone doesn't just dial it in now
The basic iOS phone dialler doesn’t sound like the first place you’d look for a whole slew of updates, but Apple has delivered in spades with OS 10. It’s now your go-to app for answering calls from WhatsApp, Messenger and Slack. Oh, and your own phone number, we suppose.
If you get a lot of nuisance calls, the dialler now checks if they’re spam with a third party extension before they get to you. Not who you were expecting? Reject and block the number without having to pick up first. Let the call go to voicemail and it’ll transcribe your messages for you too, so you don’t have to scramble for a pen whenever someone rattles off their number.
Contact cards have been overhauled with shortcuts to the ways you most regularly get in touch with your mates - no more scrolling through a list of numbers to find the right number to dial. FaceTime, WhatsApp and work emails are just a tap away.
You’ll even get a full-screen picture whenever they try to call you - even if the phone is locked.
9. Apple News is now more newsy
That’s lots to like about Apple’s news aggregator, not least that Stuff is on it (and even briefly featured in the keynote), but it’s hardly essential yet. The updates revealed tonight won’t fully change that, but it’s at least moving in the right direction.
For starters, it’s had a redesign; it’s a lot cleaner and simpler in design and indeed closely resembles the reworked Music in style. It also now has subscriptions: you’ll be able to subscribe to (and pay for) premium content from your favourite publications, if they have any. Finally, you’ll be able to get publication-specific notifications: so when Stuff publishes a new review, you’ll get a lock-screen notification about it.
Really, these changes are bigger deals for publishers than for users but the more attractive it is to the media, the more they’ll get onboard with it - and ultimately that’ll make it a more attractive app for everyone.
10. Apple Photos has had a serious brain boost
We’ve been in love with Google Photos since it launched at Google I/O 2015, but now Apple’s own Photos could give it some serious competition.
Like G Photos, Apple’s app will now organise and auto-tag your images by using deep machine learning to recognise faces, places and events.
Click on the Memories tab at the bottom of the photos app and you’ll be able to see collections of related images - for instance all the photos from one particular day out - laid out nicely with added maps and location info alongside them. It’ll even make movies for you, adding music according to a theme of your choice.
So far, so Google Photos then - but unlike its rival, none of these computations will take place in the cloud, with Apple stressing repeatedly that they’ll all be confined to your phone. How bothered you are about that depends on how worried you are about Google accessing all of your images (and, we guess, about, um, what kind of photos you take).
11. Apple Maps is heading the right direction
iOS Maps has never really recovered from its horrendous beginnings, with Google Maps remaining the go-to app for all things location-based, but Apple seems to be steadily moulding it into an impressive alternative – and one that, like many other once-walled-in parts of iOS, is now open to third-party developers.
The upshot of this is that iOS 10 will make Maps more of a platform than it has been to date. The example Apple’s Eddie Cue showed off on stage? You can browse for a restaurant, make a reservation using OpenTable, book an Uber car to get you there, and pay for the latter using Apple Pay – all without leaving Maps.
Maps is also getting more proactive with its suggestions, using the information it knows about you from other apps to make suggestions. If your calendar says you’re due to be in a location on a particular day, and you open up Maps nearby, it’ll mark that place for you automatically.
The built-in navigation is also getting an update, showing traffic levels on your route, giving you rerouting suggestions if traffic is heavy ahead, and suggesting places you might want to stop for food or petrol. So Apple’s Maps still trails behind Google Maps, but the distance between the two has lessened dramatically.
12. Texting suggestions are getting smarter
iOS 10’s keyboard is going to be a pretty smart cookie, by the sounds of it – and it’s all thanks to Siri’s big ol’ “deep learning” brain.
Yep, Siri’s intelligence is being integrated into the keyboard, which means QuickType’s autofills and reply suggestions will get more context sensitive. If, for instance, your friend messages you to ask where you are, the keyboard will suggest you reply by supplying your location data.