This year I did something that I could have done last year but did not. Kate and I joined a few of the guys of Mac360 and tried out the Public Beta program. We’ve been following Apple long enough to have a few extra iPhones and iPads lying around, so ‘Why not?‘
Apple makes the Public Beta program remarkably easy to setup and use. Just register, follow the link, and the App Store does the rest. If I had to summarize what you get with iOS 10 this week I would say it’s become refined eye candy. iOS 10 is both familiar and different, especially the Home screen and a few of our most frequently used apps.
Refined Eye Candy
Apple seems to think that usability is the secret to the iPhone’s success and I won’t argue the point. After all, the original iPhone blew smart minds away back in 2007 with a simple, elegant, and obvious interface. iOS 10 and iPhone 7 are merely incremental improvements on the same theme.
Here’s what the folks at Mac360 think about iOS 10 (available for download tomorrow).
Stickers – If there is an app in iOS 10 that received more of a makeover, I don’t know which one it is. Messages gets animated stickers galore and that alone might be more people to upgrade (not that Apple has a problem with the user base upgrading to the latest anyway; but once you see the stickers in action, you’ll do the deed).
Maps – It’s just better, even here in San Francisco where roads change frequently. Searches are better, more detailed, and cover more nearby options. App developers now have access to more options like restaurant reviews and ride share services so expect many new apps to take advantage of that built-in functionality.
VOIP – There hasn’t been much talk about this, but Apple moved VOIP and messaging apps to a system wide permissions status, which means you’ll be able to make and receive calls in Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or other VOIP systems as if the call were native to the cell phone.
Siri – Apple’s once sizzle only utility has improved in the past few years, and shows up even better in iOS 10 with more third party integration, better search, and options to work with Messages, search Photos, book rides, make payments. Siri understand normal language better, too.
Mail – I hate Mail. It’s in league with Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office as an application that does more harm to humanity than politicians. Well, almost. Inbox gets new features– filters. Email threads are more easily organized. Mail even offers suggestions for moving apps to different folders. Still no Junk Mail filters.
Raise To Wake – This works much like a similar option in Watch. Pick up the iPhone in front of you and it wakes up.
Lockscreen – Uh oh. There’s much to like here, but the Lockscreen’s notifications are everywhere and if you have plenty will seem visually out of control. Instead of tapping Touch ID and heading to an app to check on this or that, the app will have options already visible and available on the Lockscreen, including 3D Touch options. That means, that just like Watch, you’ll need to monitor your app’s notifications and pay more attention to what grabs the screen, what’s useful and what’s not. Fortunately, there’s a single press way to Clear All.
Control Center – Less cluttered but bigger isn’t always better. Multiple window panes are new and not necessarily obvious. I would still like to control what apps go onto Control Center.
The Phone – Oh, yeah. iPhone is a phone, too. Sometimes I forget that. Transcriptions are available in the Visual Voicemail tab (for carriers that allow visual voicemail). Possible ‘spam’ calls get a warning. Contact shortcut icons also point to VoIP and WhatsApp. There’s even an option to warn you if the iPhone detects water. The warning is to unplug the device. Duh.
Obviously, the list of newness in iOS 10 is extensive, as with every iOS update, but other than the Lockscreen swimming in floating messages, I like what I see and most of the Mac360 team agree. Apple is polishing and refining. But it started with Messages eye candy.