So, here it is. ‘The biggest release of iOS ever’. An endless menu of new features and changes that even one of those infinite-scroll Apple product pages could never detail in full.
There’s an all-new iMessage app, a major Siri upgrade, and a new Photos app. You get an enhanced Control Centre, new notifications, a new lock screen, and the next evolution of 3D Touch. And then there’s a heavily reworked Apple Maps, redesigned Apple News, and new look Apple Music apps. Oh, and did we forget Raise To Wake?
By Apple’s (recently conservative) standards, it’s as good as starting all over again.
Regular Stuff readers have probably already installed one of the many iOS 10 betas, but in case you aren't (and haven't), and you’re living in terror that this mega-update may brutalise your iPhone, here’s what life with iOS 10 holds in store. And no, this review won’t discuss every new feature (how much time do you have?).
But it will highlight the stuff that matters...
iOS 10: the upgrade process
Let’s get the housekeeping out of the way first.
You shouldn’t hit any dramas installing iOS 10, either over-the-air or wired to iTunes. You need iOS 8 or 9 to trigger the update, and will have to live without your iPhone for the 90 minutes or so needed for the install - from starting the sub-2GB download to the first reboot into iOS 10. We used an iPhone 6s Plus 64GB running iOS 9.3.5.
iOS 10 brings a bucket-load of changes, so we weren't too surprised to find a few post-upgrade issues in the early betas. Only two of our dozens of third party apps had been updated to work with iOS 10, increasing the risk of a rogue app sapping the battery to zero or slowing the OS to a crawl.
Still, day-to-day on the final version, we’ve hit remarkably few app glitches or freezes. If your mileage is the same as ours, you’ll find that most problems are with in-app sign-ins (for example, the Starbucks app stubbornly refuses to stay logged in) and notifications that don’t notify.
Even if your experience is more stressful than ours, any post-upgrade problems should get fixed quickly. Compared to Android, the iOS world is quick to update to the latest release - developers know that 70% of iPhone owners will be switch to iOS 10 within months, so they’ll rush to make their apps compatible.
Oh, and as a small bonus, you should claw back a bit of free free storage. Our 64GB phone reclaimed a few gig, and we’ve seen reports of 128GB owners enjoying as much as 6-8GB more free space.
Will an older iPhone or iPad handle iOS 10?
How long should you expect your mobile OS to support your hardware?
If you’re an Android user, the answer seems to be between two and four years. Back in January, Google announced that there would be no new security patches for versions of Android prior to 4.3 (released mid-2012). If you check the major Android handset makers’ support pages today, you’ll find few commitments to update hardware older than a year or two to 7.0 Nougat.
In the case of Apple, the answer’s more straightforward: four years. If you’re still walking the streets with an iPhone 4, you’re out of luck - the oldest iPhone supported by iOS 10 is a 5, whilst the oldest iPad is a 4th Gen (both devices were announced in September 2012).
We reckon that a four-year commitment is more than reasonable, especially since most people now switch handsets with their contracts every 12 to 24 months. Admittedly, we haven’t tried iOS 10 on something as old as a 5 or 5c. But we have been running the iOS 10 beta on an iPhone 6s Plus for a few months now.
And while the early betas were decidedly sluggish on our Plus, the final release is easily as fast as iOS 9. It’s sprightly throughout, not just with a few select actions - the new animation for opening a folder, for example, is as silky smooth as the swipe between the two Control Centre panels.