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

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Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10

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Apple News

Apple’s News app also gets a major redesign, in the same styling as the Apple Music and Maps apps, providing a much cleaner and less cluttered presentation that focuses more on the content and not the UI. The For You section gets a huge facelift in terms of typography, color and separation of sections, and a new Top Stories section highlights the most important stories of the day, as curated by Apple’s editors, and Featured Stories provides a human-curated list of stories for the week.

Trending Stories brings popular stories to the top based on what others are reading, and stories are now more clearly grouped into sections based on the user’s preferred topics. Sharing articles with friends has also been simplified, and you can choose to receive notifications of breaking news from selected sources.

News in iOS 10 also adds support for magazine and newspaper subscriptions, essentially replacing the ill-fated Newsstand app that Apple introduced in iOS 4 and killed off in iOS 9 following a lingering fade into obscurity. Subscriptions in Apple News will hopefully get a bit more buy-in as publications now simply need to provide properly formatted content for Apple’s News app, rather than going through the complexity of building their own special standalone apps to deliver content.

QuickType

Apple has expanded its QuickType predictive text system with additional deep learning technology, so you’ll now see predictive suggestions for emoji based on what you’re typing, as well as contextual predictions for things like current location, recent addresses, contact information, calendar appointments, and more. So if somebody texts you a question like, “Where are you?” you’ll automatically see a QuickType suggestion for sending your current location, or if you enter something like “Phil’s number is” you’ll see suggestions taken right from your address book.

Clock + Sleep Tracking

The iOS Clock app doesn’t often see many changes, but iOS 10 brings an interesting surprise in the form of a new Bedtime section. Designed to help you get optimal sleep, this screen automatically provides bedtime reminders and wakeup alarms distinct from the normal Clock alarms.

A circular display allows you to draw an arc that represents your preferred bedtime and wakeup times, with a total of the number of hours of sleep that represents shown in the center. An Options button in the top-right corner allows you to choose which days of the week the schedule will apply to, select how many minutes before bedtime you’d like to receive a bedtime reminder, and choose a wake up sound and volume.

The Bedtime alarm also uses a collection of nine unique wakeup sounds that aren’t available for normal alarms; many of these are more soothing sounds suitable for slowly waking up. A “None” option is also available if you’d like to use the sleep tracking option without it being tied to an alarm.

The Bedtime feature goes beyond simply setting a reminder and alarm, however, and actually tracks your sleep based on when you actually go to bed and when you wake up, including any times where you happen to get up in the night and reach for your iPhone — the accelerometer appears to be used to determine when you’re actually using your iPhone, and therefore not actually sleeping. A bar graph at the bottom of the Bedtime screen provides the current week’s sleep analysis, and the Clock app also records this data into the Health app so it can be tracked along with your other health stats. The Show All Data section in the Health app can be used to view more detailed information on the specific times that iOS 10 decided you were actually in bed.

Mail

The Mail app sees a couple of small improvements. A new button in the bottom-left corner allows quick filtering of messages in the current mailbox by unread or flagged status, messages addressed To or CC’ed to the user, or only messages with attachments or VIPs. Tapping on the filter button enables the feature, and the filter can then be refined by tapping on the “Filtered by” text that appears in the bottom status bar when the filter is applied. The last used settings are saved as the default for the next time the filter is enabled.

While this feature is similar to the Smart Mailboxes introduced in iOS 7, it has the advantage of being more customizable on-the-fly and working in any folder that you happen to be viewing, not just the Inbox.

Mail in iOS 10 now supports a full conversation view when reading messages in a thread. Rather than simply presenting a sub-list of messages, tapping on a multi-threaded message now displays all of the messages in the conversation thread — even if some of them are in other mailboxes or folders — with the most recent at the bottom, similar to how they’re presented in the macOS Mail app. A Complete Threads option in the Mail Settings can be used to adjust this behavior if you’d rather only view messages that are in the current folder or mailbox.

To see a list of all of the messages in the thread that are in the current mailbox (as in iOS 9), you can instead tap the double-arrow to the right of the message date on a threaded message. This will expand the message list in place, rather than moving to a separate screen, but the result is the same.

The Mail app also gains some of iOS 10’s new deep learning smarts for moving messages — if you regularly move the same type of message to a specific folder, iOS 10 will remember this and suggest that folder for you the next time you move a similar message, saving you the trouble of browsing the entire folder list.

Lastly, in a long-overdue tweak, tapping-and-holding on the trashcan button when viewing a message now presents both Trash Message and Archive Message options. The opposite behavior has been in place for several years — a Trash Message option was available by tapping and holding if the default setting was Archive, but prior to iOS 10, when Trash was the default, there was no easy way to archive a message from the message view.

Notes

Notes got a big update in iOS 9, and was expanded even further in iOS 9.3 with new security features. iOS 10 adds another big missing piece of the equation in the form of collaboration. It’s as much of an iCloud feature as an iOS feature, and you can now share notes with other iOS 10 or macOS Sierra users and work on them together.

Contacts and Events found in Apps

The Contacts found in Mail and Events found in Mail options have been expanded to Contacts found in Apps and Events found in Apps, taking the iOS 9 proactive assistant feature beyond the Mail app into included data from Messages, and possibly other apps. The concept remains the same: iOS 10 will suggest appointments and new contact info based on what it finds in your email messages, but this has now been expanded to include your iMessage and text message conversations as well. If you don’t want to use these features, you can turn them off in the Contacts and Calendars sections in Settings app, respectively (note that the Mail, Contacts, Calendars section, which has been around since iOS 1, has been separated into three independent sections in iOS 10).

Safari

It’s a small change, but Safari now allows you to have an unlimited number of tabs open. Prior iOS versions limited you to 36 tabs. That said, due to memory and processing constraints, you may still find Safari struggles with many tabs open, especially on older devices, so although there’s no fixed limitation anymore, your mileage will vary depending on what you’re keeping open.

Phone

Third-party developers now have the ability to integrate more tightly into the built-in Phone app, allowing VoIP apps to receive calls properly on the lock screen — including support for features like Call Waiting and Do Not Disturb — and a new category of spam call identification apps can alert you to calls from known telemarketing numbers.

iOS 10 also adds a beta Visual Voicemail transcription feature on the iPhone 6s and later models, although this is presently only available in certain countries.

iCloud Drive

The iCloud Drive app now gets default placement — it no longer needs to be switched on from your iCloud settings, although if you don’t want to use it, you can simply delete it.

macOS Sierra users may want to keep it around, however, as you now have the option to automatically sync your Desktop and Documents folders to iCloud Drive, where all of that data will be accessible from the iCloud Drive app on your iOS device. While iCloud Drive still doesn’t have nearly the sophistication of competing cloud storage solutions, it’s a nice canned solution for somebody who doesn’t need a lot of collaboration features and just wants to have access to their Mac files on the go.

Magnifier

A new accessibility feature, Magnifier, allows you to more easily use your iPhone camera as a magnifying glass. When enabled, triple-clicking the Home button will bring up a camera view that can be easily zoomed in to view something at a stronger magnification, and captured temporarily as a still by using the camera button. Controls are also present to toggle the flash and adjust brightness, contrast, and provide inverted and color-shifted views — useful for those with color blindness and other vision challenges.

CarPlay

iOS 10 will also allow CarPlay users to reorder the on-screen apps menu, and hide some of the apps from being displayed.

You’re still going to have to keep Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Now Playing and your car manufacturer’s app on your CarPlay Home screen, but at least you can reorder them and move them to secondary screens. Podcasts and Audiobooks (iBooks) can be hidden entirely, as well as any third-party apps like Audible or Spotify that you may have on your iPhone but don’t necessarily want to use in your car.

Conclusions

iOS 10 is definitely a huge update — Apple isn’t exactly exaggerating when they call it the biggest update ever in terms of how many things have actually changed. There’s room for debate as to whether any of the new features are considered revolutionary by themselves, but iOS is also now a mature platform that has moved past the point of breaking significant new ground and into an era of quality of life improvements throughout the user experience. The design changes to Apple Music, Maps, and News, and the notification/today system are definitely welcome, and we hope they’re signs of things to come throughout the rest of the iOS experience. It’s also important to not underestimate the new APIs that allow developers to integrate more tightly into the system through Siri and the Phone, Messages, and Maps app — this is going to open up a whole new world of possibilities that can be explored by third-party developers.

If you’ve got a modern 3D Touch capable device, there’s little reason not to jump on iOS 10, other than the normal hesitation about letting Apple work out some of the bugs — although it’s been remarkably stable in our experience, even on an old iPhone 6 Plus. Users with older 32-bit devices like the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and fourth-generation iPad might be more reluctant to upgrade merely for performance reasons, and of course there’s less incentive to do so with the more limited support for some iOS 10 features. Ultimately, though, iOS 10 is a solid update.

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