Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10 | iLounge Article

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Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10

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Messages

The iOS 10 Messages app gets its biggest update since the introduction of iMessage, and the biggest visual and features update in the history of iOS, adding support for a number of new effects and messaging styles along with an App Store for iMessage which allows the app to be expanded with new collaborative features.

The new effects are clearly an attempt to bring Messages in line with more “fun” third-party apps and appeal to a younger user base, although many of them have a practical side as well. Digital Touch from the Apple Watch has come to the iOS Messages app, allowing you to not only receive Digital Touch messages such as taps, sketches and heartbeats from Apple Watch users, but to send them to other Apple Watch and iOS devices. Handwritten messages can also be sent, which animate on the recipient’s device, with custom script to choose from as well as the ability to add your own.

New bubble effects — slam, loud, gentle, and invisible ink — can be added to Messages to provide emphasis (or de-emphasis) on the recipient’s device, along with background effects of balloons, confetti, laser light show, fireworks, and shooting star. The iOS 10 Messages app will also sometimes add effects automatically when appropriate — for example, sending somebody the message “Happy Birthday” will automatically display the balloons background effect.

It’s also interesting to note that these effects are only available if the Reduce Motion option is turned OFF in the iPhone’s Accessibility Settings, so unfortunately if you’re not a fan of the parallax effects introduced in iOS 7, you’re going to have to either live with it or be left out in the cold on the new iMessage effects.

A new “tapback” feature also allows you to drop response icons on top of messages you’ve received or sent to act as quick replies, such as giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and stickers can also be dropped on top of bubbles or photos, with the new App Store for iMessage expected to provide a huge collection of new options in this area.

The QuickType section now displays emoji in addition to text, and it’s more contextually aware so you’ll see the appropriate emoji for whatever you’re typing. There’s also a new tap-to-replace emoji feature, which will highlight keywords when switching to the emoji keyboard, and you can tap on those words to replace them with the appropriate emoji. It’s a slightly goofy way to text in our opinion, but again, it should appeal to a younger audience.

When sending links in Messages, they’ll now be rendered as previews of the web pages you’re sharing, similar to how Facebook Messenger handles links.

The photo sharing section has also been reorganized slightly, with more previews of your photo library and a live camera preview panel, which includes a button for quickly switching between the iSight and FaceTime cameras. You can tap on an image to immediately insert it into the current conversation, or tap-and-hold to bring up the image browser, which also now includes a Markup option for annotating the image before sending. Swiping to the right on the camera/image preview panel will also reveal buttons for bringing up the full camera or your full photo library; notably, if you want your photos to be saved to the iOS Photo Library, you’ll need to use the Camera button rather than the live preview.

Messages has also been opened up to developer enhancements via the new App Store for iMessage, and from what we’ve heard there should be a huge collection of apps coming, ranging from simple graphical sticker apps to more collaborative apps for sharing content, making payments, and arranging group reservations.

Finally, one last small tweak to Messages allows you to determine whether Read Receipts are sent out on a per-conversation basis. This can be found by going into the Details section for the current conversation, where a toggle switch can be used to turn Read Receipts on or off, overriding the global setting.

Siri

While Siri doesn’t get any significant enhancements on the surface in iOS 10, the addition of SiriKit to the set of developer tools means that a whole gamut of third-party apps can now take advantage of Apple’s voice assistant for deeper integration.

For example, you’ll be able to use third-party messaging apps with Siri to send, search, and read back messages, place phone calls with third-party VoIP apps, search for images in third-party photo apps, book rides through apps like Uber, make payments through apps like Square Cash, and even integrate with CarPlay systems in the future to adjust climate control and other car settings via Siri voice commands.

Maps

One of the apps to get a major redesign in iOS 10 is Maps, which adopts a new design motif that seems to be gradually taking hold throughout the built-in apps in iOS 10. In redesigning Maps, Apple set out to make the app more accessible and allow users to access controls and details on locations more readily.

The most apparent change at first glance is the shift of the search field down to the bottom of the screen from its traditional placement at the top. On closer examination, however, you’ll discover that the search field now forms the top part of a panel-style “card” overlay similar to the redesigned Control Center. Tapping on the search field slides the card up to fill almost the entire screen, with categories and recent and favorite locations shown. However, it’s also possible to slide the card back down to occupy only the bottom third of the screen to show a list of locations alongside the map view.

In landscape orientation, the search field appears in the top-left corner, with a handle that allows it to be expanded downward to fill the left third of the screen with location results.

The display of locations has also been emboldened, with larger fonts and more colorful icons beside each location to illustrate categories. You’ll also be able to clear or share locations by swiping from right-to-left, which will show “Remove” and “Share” buttons, similar to swiping on messages in the Mail app.

Searching for directions gets a similarly new bold design, with large green “Go” buttons beside each set of directions to begin navigation, larger and bolder fonts used to emphasize travel times, and slightly more detailed information on each route, such as whether tolls are required and which routes are fastest.

One other nice touch in iOS 10 is that routes requiring tolls are now clearly marked in the map view with a dollar sign symbol.

Navigation

The Navigation mode in iOS 10 has undergone an even more significant redesign. The same type of card view at the bottom provides ETA, travel time, and distance, along with a bright red “End” button to cancel navigation. Next-turn directions are displayed using a black banner at the top of the screen, which provides a much better contrast with the map view.

You can also now pan and zoom in the map view when navigating, and traffic information is also now shown on the route detail view, rather than only in overview mode. The route detail view will also zoom in and out dynamically based on the travel distance of each leg and how close the next turn is.

As with the search field, the bottom status bar also forms the top part of an overlay card that can be slid upward to reveal additional options, including switching between Overview and Detail route views, getting a list of directions, toggling audio on and off, and searching for points of interest on your route.

Points of Interest on Route

Possibly the biggest functional improvement in Maps is the ability to navigate to common points of interest on or near your current route. Sliding up from the bottom reveals buttons that provide a list of enroute gas stations, fast food restaurants, or coffee shops.

Tapping on one of these shows a list and map plot of locations in that category that will take you a minimal distance from your route, with the amount of time added to your trip displayed for each. Tap on the “Go” button and your route will be switched to take you to that location instead; a blue banner will appear at the top allowing you to resume navigation to your original destination.

CarPlay

The visual enhancements to Maps in CarPlay are more subtle than in the core iOS app. But it does gain a few improvements, including the ability to pan and zoom maps during route navigation, traffic information in detail view, and searching for points of interest enroute while in navigation mode. Zooming and panning buttons have now been moved over to the right edge of the map, and a search button now appears in the banner while in navigation mode, providing access to search for points of interest or other locations while already following a route.

The search feature also provides a few more options than it does on the iOS side, with additional categories for Parking and Shopping displayed, as well as other recent locations.

Tapping on a suggested destination in CarPlay now displays a clearer set of options, replacing the “Yes/No/Guidance” buttons with distinct options for Guidance, ETA Only, or Clear.

Proactive Suggestions

Maps is also now more proactive, bringing the system-wide “Proactive Assistant” features introduced in iOS 9 directly into the Maps app. For example, directions will be provided to places that you regularly travel to — such as your morning commute — and will appear on the bottom overlay card without having to first initiate a search.

Parking Location

Maps will also now remember where you parked your car, placing a pin on the map, flagging a “Parked car” location entry right at the top of your list. This appears to be tracked using Bluetooth and CarPlay, with the iPhone deciding that your car has been “parked” and noting its current location whenever it loses Bluetooth connectivity to the car.

Searching and Filtering Places

Improvements have also been made to the Nearby search interface, making it easier to filter diverse location categories down to the specifics and pan around the map to check different locations.

When you’re searching a category such as “Restaurants” that includes a lot of sub-categories, a slider bar will appear at the bottom of the screen to allow you to quickly narrow the displayed results down by sub-category. Panning around the map after doing a search will also collapse the results into a “Search Here” button that can be used to reinitiate the same search in the newly displayed location.

Today Screen Extensions

Three new Today Screen “widgets” are available for Maps in iOS 10: Destinations, Nearby, and Transit. The Nearby widget provides quick access to the four most popular search categories, basically replicating the same feature that was built into the Search screen in iOS 9. The Destinations widget provides a glance at recommended locations such as your parked car, the location of an upcoming appointment, or a proactive navigation route. Maps Transit provides a quick view of transit-related alerts for any transit lines that you’ve marked as favorites in the Maps app.

Driving and Transit Options

You can now choose your preferred method of transport — Driving, Walking, Transit, or Ride Booking — in the Maps section in the iOS Settings app, or via trip-specific options when plotting a new route.

There are also new options in here to avoid highways and toll routes that can be found in the Maps Settings, or by tapping on “Driving Options” when getting directions. Preferred modes of public transit can also be set in much the same way.

Ride Booking Apps + Maps Extensions

When getting directions in iOS 10 Maps, the former “Apps” category has now been renamed “Ride” and appears to be limited to tying into apps for services such as Uber. The ability to directly hand off to third-party apps such as Google Maps or Transit for other forms of trip planning appear to have been removed, and it looks like Maps extensions will be limited to things like reservations and ride sharing apps, although we’ll have to wait and see what other types of apps may appear on the App Store.

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