The best new features of iOS 10

Apple took the wraps off of the latest version of its iOS operating system at its big developers conference Monday, and it promises to bring a boatload of new features to your iPhone and iPad. Available later this fall, iOS 10 is one of the largest updates to the operating system to date.

The OS has been upgraded from the bottom up, but these are the biggest innovations.

Messages

IOS’s Messages has never been a very fun app, but Apple might have just changed that with the most significant update to the software in years. First off, Messages now features intelligent responses through Siri. So if someone asks where you are, Siri will offer up a quick reply that lets you send your current location.

The addition of rich links to Messages now means that when you send someone a link to a YouTube video they can watch it within messages. And website links no longer look like a discombobulated string of numbers and letters; they actually appear as site previews.

Emojis have also gotten some love with iOS 10. Not only are they three times larger in your message transcript, but there’s also a new predictive emojis feature. Similar to predictive text in your iOS keyboard, predictive emojis will show up in the predictive text line when iOS thinks you’ll want to add one to your message.

When you want to feel like one of the cool kids and send a message littered with emojis, you can type out your missive and tap the emoji button on the keyboard to see which words can be replaced with the tiny symbols. Because words are dumb … I guess.

You can also adjust the way your recipient gets messages using bubble effects. So if you want someone to know you’re speaking softly, you can make the Message bubble super small. Invisible ink, meanwhile, hides your message until your recipient slides over it with their finger.

Apple also added handwritten messages, Digital Touch options like your heartbeat or a sketch and full-screen effects — so you can do things like add confetti or fireworks effects to the entire Message screen.

Apple has also opened Messages to developers who can create their own sub-apps for the service such as payment apps, gifs or stickers.

Lock screen

Apple wants to change the way you interact with your iPhone’s lock screen by making it far more interactive. I’m sure at this point you’re asking, “Isn’t that the antithesis of a lock screen?”  Well who cares, because Apple’s doing it anyway.

It starts with Apple’s new Rise to Wake feature, which turns on your iPhone’s screen whenever you lift it up. Motorola’s Moto X offered a similar function that showed you notifications and the time on a black and white screen to help save battery life. Apple’s solution lights up the entire screen, though — so I’m not sure how much this could impact your handset’s battery.

You can also interact with your notifications from the lock screen via 3D Touch — as long as you have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus that is. For example, if you have a text message on the lock screen, you can long-press it using 3D Touch to send a reply without opening the Messages app. Similarly, if you call for an Uber and receive an update, you can long-press the notification to see where your ride is on a map.

Swiping up from the lock screen still pulls up the Control Center, but now if you swipe from the right to the left you’ll open the music player.

Swiping in from the right on the lock screen also opens the Camera app, which is a bit easier than swiping on the tiny camera icon in the corner of the iOS 9 lock screen. Swiping in from the left, meanwhile, pulls up your widgets screen.

Photos

Apple is finally catching up with Google when it comes to its Photos app. In iOS 10 the app can now perform scene and object recognition, so you can search for things like dogs or New York City and the app will pull up photos showing those items. You can already do that in Google’s Photos app, but Apple is obviously hoping it can bring back some users that have left for its rival’s offering.

A new Memories tab organizes photos based on where you took them and with whom you took them. At the top of each entry is a premade movie created using all of the photos and videos you took on your trip. It’s a pretty neat feature that will inevitably make you wish you were still on your vacation in Aruba and not stuck in your office with your coworker Brian. (No offense, Brian.)

Siri

Everyone’s favorite voice assistant, Siri, has also received a bump with iOS 10 in that it is now available to developers. That means you’ll be able to use Siri to send messages via third-party apps like WeChat, Slack and Whatsapp, which should prove extremely useful when behind the wheel.

You can also use Siri to get an Uber or Lyft, perform voice searches for photos, make payments and start and stop workouts. It’s nice to see Siri being opened up like this, but the voice assistant still won’t prove as useful as something like Amazon’s Alexa until it breaks free of your smartphone and can be used in a larger device in the home like the Amazon Echo.

5. Apple Music

Apple Music also received a major update, with a new interface that looks far easier to navigate with big, bold text. The Now Playing screen is much more attractive and less bland and now includes lyrics. Spotify also includes lyrics, but only on the desktop version.

The For You section is also far less convoluted and seems more inviting than its current incarnation. That said, it’s hard to say whether consumers will want to give Apple Music a try after its rocky start. And pulling people away from Spotify could prove a difficult proposition for Apple Music. Unless, that is, it continues to get songs and albums from the likes of Taylor Swift whose offerings aren’t available on Spotify.

6. Maps

After a rocky start in 2012, Apple’s Maps is now a solid alternative to Google Maps. And now Apple Maps is getting some improvements that bring it more in line with its rival, though don’t outdo it. New proactive features let you see when you do things like when you usually leave for work or upcoming appointments and will provide you with the best route for that time.

That said, Google Now can also show you when you normally leave for work and the best route. And it seems to make more sense to get updates like that through something like Google Now. After all, why would you look in your Maps app to check your upcoming appointments?

You can also search for general locations like seafood restaurants using the improved search tool, which actually looks easier to use than Google Maps’ own search function.

Maps’ navigation feature now gets traffic on route, letting you plan ahead to see what traffic will be like and automatically get alternate routes based on traffic conditions (all of which Google Maps does).

Like many of Apple’s other services, Maps has also been opened to third-party developers. So you can book a restaurant with OpenTable and get an Uber there from within Maps. Google Maps also lets you make a reservation with OpenTable and call and Uber — but you have to leave the app to do the latter, which isn’t as efficient as Apple Maps.

Home

Finally, there’s Home, Apple’s new hub for all of your HomeKit-enabled devices. From Home you can see all of your devices no matter what company makes them, as long as they support HomeKit, of course.

The app’s Scenes feature lets you take control of all of your connected devices at once to fit a specific setting. So if you tap Good night, for example, your blinds will close, the doors will lock and the lights will turn off or dim all at once. Siri can also take control of your Homekit devices.

IOS 10’s new lock screen notifications also offer home support, so if someone rings your connected doorbell, you’ll get a notification on your phone that lets you view its associated camera, use the intercom and unlock your door. Here’s hoping you never do any of that by accident.

Geo-fencing in the Home app can also determine when you arrive at your house, and do things like automatically open the garage door and turn on the lights in your house. I was personally hoping Apple would say Home could make me dinner and fold my laundry, but there’s always next year, right?

 

By Daniel Howley for Yahoo Finance