The iOS 10 public beta is now available to download for anyone willing to test unfinished iPhone and iPad software. That means the iOS 10 release date is closer than ever. Here’s the latest.
Apple’s iOS 10 update for iPhone and iPad lives up to its milestone software version number, with the first official details announced at WWDC 2016 in San Francisco last month.
As you’ll read in our iOS 10 first look, it’s filled with major changes for your daily phone and tablet routine, but don’t worry, all of the new features are for the best – and absolutely free to download.
The Cupertino company laid out all of its mobile operating system specs in an all-too-appropriate ten segments. We break it down even further. Here’s what we learned about iOS 10.
iOS 10 release date
Apple is once again planning a staggered iOS 10 release date among app developers, public beta testers and then everyone else who wants to wait for the final version.
So technically, iOS 10 is out right now. It launched the same day as WWDC in beta form to developers and trust us, Beta 1 wasn’t ready for average iPhone and iPad users who aren’t making apps.
You didn’t have to wait long to test out iOS 10 on your own. Apple launched the iOS 10 public beta just 23 days after the developer beta, and it’ll help squash bugs two months before the official release date.
That’s good news. Last year’s public beta was a success for Apple judging from the smoother sailing of iOS 9, and it continued that streak with new iOS 9.3 features that also went through a three-month beta.
If you decide to wait for the final version of iOS 10, it’ll take a while longer due to additional bug testing. A stable version of iOS 10 should launch alongside the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September.
- Feel like taking a risk? How to download iOS 10 beta right now
iOS 10 compatibility
iOS 10 is coming to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, unless of course you have an age-old phone or tablet that still uses the 30-pin dock connector or is an older iPod touch.
That’s where Apple draws the new line in the sand for 2016. Its forthcoming mobile operating system update won’t support for iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod touch 5th gen.
It’s not a big surprise. In addition to their non-lightning connections, these devices include 512MB of RAM and stuck around for iOS 9 when we thought they’d be axed from that update last year.
iOS 10 raise to wake
Apple redesigned the iPhone and iPad lockscreen, giving us the biggest revision since the first iPhone nine years ago. Slide to unlock is gone and replaced with simple instructions: “Press Home to open.”
What’s been added is the ability to raise your iPhone to wake it, fixing the all-too-common issue of blowing past lockscreen notifications when you hit the fast TouchID home button.
This is a great solution that we have seen on a select number of Android phones, like the Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, and it almost reminds me of flicking my wrist to light up the Apple Watch.
This is the sleeper hit of iOS 10 that is going to change your daily iPhone routine.
Rich lockscreen notifications
You’ll see that notifications are broken up into bubbles now and use 3D Touch to show hidden menu actions – just hard press on a calendar invite alert and you’ll be able to accept or decline it.
3D Touch-enabled iOS 10 notifications work even better for Messages. You can immediately respond to messages as soon as you pick up your phone, without ever leaving the lockscreen. It’s all done inline.
No more digging around the home screen and layers of app menus to check vital information. If you have a doorbell camera notification, you can see who’s at the front door, use the intercom or unlock the door.
This “peeking at apps” capability via the lockscreen isn’t limited to Apple’s first-party apps. Uber is just one third-party app maker that allows you to hard press on notifications. You’ll get live updates on where your driver is on a map – usually headed in the other direction.
Clear all notifications button
What may be the best change to iOS 10 notifications is the ability to clear all of your old notifications with 3D Touch. Swiping them away one by one or dismissing them in groups is a time-consuming mess in iOS 9.
Just hard press that little “x” icon within the redesigned (and now dedicated) notifications pulldown menu and tap the “clear all” box that pops up. Tap it once to just dismiss the group of notifications.
It’s super easy to clear away expired alerts with iOS 10 and it will please everyone inflicted with phone notification-clearing OCD.
Control Center is decluttered
The swipe-up-from-the-bottom Control Center overlay menu has a brand new look that helps declutters the layout in iOS 10, and it’s something Apple users have been asking for.
It once again features four app shortcuts along the bottom (flashlight, stopwatch, calculator and camera app) and moves the fifth Beatle, Night Shift, to a new, bigger spot above the quartet.
That fixes an issue where people said having five app shortcuts in that bottom row, a short-lived idea that came about when Night Shift debuted in iOS 9.3, made the buttons a tad too small.
Bigger AirPlay and AirDrop buttons appear above Night Shift, too, while toggles for Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Orientation lock are unchanged (except for their new blue hue when on).
But what happened to the music controls? Slide right on the Control Center, and there’s a dedicated pane for the volume, playback and device output controls, and even music album cover art.
Lockscreen camera and ‘widgets’
It’s easier than ever to flip on the camera with iOS 10 because sliding the lockscreen right (when Control Center isn’t open) automatically transitions to the camera app.
This is a camera app shortcut we’ve seen on several Android phones and it beats reaching for the bottom right corner, where the camera shortcut remains in iOS 9. You use the camera app everyday, why not make it easier to access?
What happens when you swipe to the left on the lockscreen? Glad you asked a second question. It reveals a new spot for Apple’s Today menu “widgets.” It’s not as customizable as Android widgets, but it’s new location a big improvement.
Graphical 3D Touch shortcuts
Within the home screen, 3D Touching app tiles like Activity gives you a more graphical account of your fitness goals. You’ll know faster than ever that you have to close those daily activity rings.
ESPN had even richer shortcut information within its 3D Touch menu. It runs scores and there’s a button to easily add a widget. It’s even more graphical, throwing up a drawn out play-by-play interface and video of in-progress games you’re following.
All of this peeking at apps can be done without leaving the home screen, and it means that 3D Touch is becoming a little more relevant in iOS 10.
Talk to Siri normally
Two billion requests a week go through Siri, and it’s now going to do “so much more,” according to Apple. With that, they announced that iOS 10 will open up Siri to third-party developers.
Now you’ll be able to ask Siri things like, “Send a WeChat to Nancy saying I’ll be five minutes late.'” It can be said variety of ways and still understood by the now-smarter Siri.
In (very literal) other words, Siri also works just fine if you say it like “Tell Nancy I’ll be five minutes late with WeChat,” and even “Siri, can you shoot a message on WeChat and say I’ll be five minutes late?”
Siri for iOS 10, all of a sudden, is going to be a whole lot less “Sorry…” for miscues. This is thanks to what Apple calls an “intense API,” which even functions in this new way in its multiple languages.
Siri third-party apps
Besides WeChat, Siri is ready for other chat apps, like WhatsApps and Slack, and ride hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Didi in China (which Apple invested in recently).
Searching photos through apps like Shutterfly and Pinterest can be done with your voice thanks to Siri, and you can start, pause and stop fitness workouts with MapMyRun, Runtastic and RunKeeper.
Siri can also help you send money to friends with Number26, Square and Alipay, or start a VoIP call to tell your friend why you’re not paying them on time via Cisco Spark, Vonage and Skype.
This makes Siri much more useful now that Apple’s personal assistant has broken free of pre-loaded apps, and makes driving a tiny bit safer thanks to messaging and VoIP integration for Apple CarPlay.
Siri-influenced QuickType keyboard
Apple’s on-screen QuickType keyboard can intelligently tell the difference between what you’re saying and what computers usually think you’re saying (but not) thanks to more advanced Siri intelligence.
Using deep learning kept locally, or what Apple calls “differential privacy,” iOS 10 understands the wider context of what you’re typing, influencing the words in the suggestion bar above the keyboard.
It has better context by taking into account the whole sentence, not just spitting out the next guess based on the previous word.
This will be completely opt-in, masked and stored on the device, according to Apple. That’s different from Google’s data-harvesting using its online servers.
QuickType is also adding a handy button for your current location whenever someone asks “Where are you?” or requests someone else’s contact information. That Contacts app will go further unused.
Locally, Siri uses deep learning to analyze a conversation and is able to pick up on you and a friend talking about food, a proposed time and resturant address, and then pre-fill in Calendar event when you go to add it to the Calendar app. “Look at that, it’s already halfway filled in,” you’ll say.
Rounding out the QuickType iOS 10 features is the ability to paste a recent address you looked up without having to copy it to the clipboard, do the same for movies and restaurants you’ve searched and adjust to your multilingual typing.
It’s Apple new “easy button” for iOS 10, and it’s all about shortcuts to everyday activities.
Photos with advanced computer vision
iOS 10 is going to make use of deep learning so that it’ll be easier to organize photos with what it calls “advanced computer vision.” This is how Apple plans to rival Google Photos.
Again, stressing that it’s done locally, Apple touts the Photos app’s ability to create albums based on face recognition, and can do the same for object and scene recognition thanks to 11 billion computations. It also serves up a way to see photos overlaid on a map based on where they were taken.
Apple plans to take Photos to the next level with Memories, which are supposed to remind you of events in life by clustering together photos into trips, people and topics. It seems to have a nice magazine-style interface I can get behind.
iOS 10 will also let you assemble your captured photos and videos of a particular memory with a special movie that’s cut automatically. It’s customizable, with a number of mood choices and three length options, just in case you don’t want to fine tune it yourself.
Despite the AI-infused deep search and facial recognition capabilities, Apple promises privacy protection.
Apple Maps is way better
iOS 10 fixes my biggest complaint about Apple Maps – its inability to scroll ahead on a route. Right now, Maps annoyingly springs you back to your current location whenever you try to look anywhere else.
You’ll be free to pan and zoom around the map with the new Apple Maps update and the navigation software is also dynamically zooming in and out of long stretches and complex interchanges.
Maps for iOS 10 is adding traffic on route to better compete with Google Maps and expanding its Nearby functionality with more points of interest that you can find along your route.
Vehicles that supports Apple CarPlay not only get suggested alternate routes based on traffic conditions, Maps’ turn-by-turn directions can pop up on the instrument (if they have a screen next to the odometer).
Apple is weaving iOS 10 information from other apps into Maps, like if it knows you go to work at a certain time, it’ll make a suggestion for the route, or make one based on a calendar event address.
That’s just the start. It’s also opening up Maps to third-party developers, so Uber riders can call, follow and pay for their ride without ever leaving Apple’s app. It’s getting there.
Apple Music with iOS 10 is being redesigned for its 15 million paid subscribers, and it “allows the music to be the hero,” according to Apple. It lets the cover art stand out.
It looks to be a much cleaner design, highlighting cover art properly and suggesting music that you’ll like in a more logical fashion. But it’s not going to excite you for iOS 10 if you’re not a paid subscriber.
The Apple Music refresh does add some more depth by way of lyrics (though it doesn’t seem to follow along with the words like other apps do, like SoundHound do).
The For You tab is does a better job at curating your personal playlists and it absorbs the Connect tab that we previously heard was getting a diminished role. Likewise, the ‘New’ tab has become ‘Browse.’
Apple News is reaching 60 million people every month with 2,000 publications and it’s in for a redesign, too. The For You tab now breaks news into personalized topics and hand-picked stories by editors.
News for iOS 10 will also introduce subscriptions so that you can see every issue of National Geographic or read the Wall Street Journal, periodicals usually behind a paywall.
Breaking news notifications have been added to this pre-loaded app so that big stories appear right on the iOS 10 lockscreen.
Apple’s developer-focused HomeKit is coming to end-users with iOS 10 (and also Apple Watch), and the new app appears right on the homescreen unsurprisingly called “Home.”
It’ll tie all of your home-based IoT gadgets together into a simple interface and include Scenes to change the mood of rooms in a pinch, no matter who makes your home’s previously fragmented smart tech.
Siri acts as a shortcut to interact with your home accessories, and Control Center does too. Two swipes to the right in the Control Center menu brings up a grid of home accessory toggles.
Also from the lockscreen, you can peek at home notifications, say, if you get a doorbell alert. Peek into the notification by hard pressing on the bubble and a video doorbell like Ring will give you a live camera view.
Hate listening to voicemails? Never actually check them? Me too. That’s why I’m excited that the rumored voicemail transcription idea made it into iOS 10.
It’ll let you know what a voicemail message says via more convenient text right within the visual voicemail. Apple is also partnering with Tencent in China to alert iPhone owners there that an incoming call might be spam.
VoIP is no longer going to take a backseat, as a WhatsApp call, for example, can be answered right from the lockscreen, just like a normal incoming call. They’ll also be part of your recent and favorites lists.
Messages is introducing rich links within a conversation and a live camera view as soon as you press the camera button. Like emoji’s? You’re going to love iOS 10.
Apple is making bigger emojis that are now three times as large as before, and the keyboard can now identify words you can easily replace with emojis via a single tap on each word.
There’s also a chance that the final version of iOS 10 launches, likely in September, Apple will include the 72 new emojis developed by the Unicode Consortium. They’re already in the company’s emoji style and Android N is set to debut them too. Hop (kangaroo) to it, Apple (apple fruit).
Expressions don’t stop there. There’ll be bubble effects so you can “say it loud” with a bursting bunch of text, or say something “gently” with slow-to-exist texts.
You can also use “Invisible Ink” that requires the message receiver to slide their finger over a text or photo. It’ll either be a nice surprise, or horrific shock to your friends.
Apple showed off an Invisible Ink demo in which a blurry photo turned out to be a bride-to-be’s hand with a wedding ring on it. I’m pretty sure there are going to be a lot of appendages sent using Invisible Ink.
You can react to individual messages with expression-driven Tapbacks (reminds me of Facebook reactions) and write out meaningful messages with handwritten “digital ink.”
With club disco lights, big emoji and full-screen fireworks for iOS 10, Messages is one crazy app. But it’ll get even more insane in the future because Apple is opening up Messages to developers with an SDK.
So far, Apple has shown off integration for licensed Disney stickers, food ordering services and bitmoji-like expressions provided by JibJab.
More to come from iOS 10
Rounding up iOS 10, Apple quickly mentioned Notes with multiple users editing a document, the ability to edit Live Photos without annoyingly relegating them to stills and a new conversation view for Mail.
On the iPad, Split View support for two Safari windows has been added, finally letting you open up dual Safari windows at once on your tablet, you multitasker, you.
Apple said that despite the deep learning capabilities of iOS 10, it’ll keep that to the silicon on your device and not invade your private data thanks to “differential privacy.”
We’ll have more iOS 10 news, as the developer and public beta prepare us for the the full iOS 10 update. When that launches in a few days in September, we’ll certainly discover additional features to talk about.