Apple recently announced a slew of new OS’s for their various platforms. iOS 10 for the iPhone was one of the crowd favorites at WWDC; and it’s definitely a favorite of mine. It is probably one of the best incremental upgrades in iOS history. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
(Also, please note that I do know iOS 10 is still in the early beta stages, and I am taking this into account during this editorial. Everything was tested on an iPhone 6.)
iOS 10 boasts a lot of new and improved features. This update has probably changed more of the UI and UX than any previous one. I really do love the widgets. I know this isn’t exactly new to the mobile OS world, but Apple’s take on them is done well. You still can’t place them on your home screen, but they are easily accessed via your pulldown menu or lock screen. This reminds me of the time Android had their widgets available from the lock screen (I still don’t know why they did away with that). This makes it easier to jump into the camera, or launch a bunch of different things.
My favorite widgets are contacts and weather. It sounds simple, but they are greatly improved over iOS 9. With the contacts widgets, I can easily contact my favorites with whatever method I choose (calling, texting/iMessaging, or FaceTiming). The weather widget also gives better information about the current weather than the previous iteration. It can now show the progression of the weather throughout the day with a simple tap to expand the widget. I can’t wait to see what developers do with this.
Another thing I love is the notification shade improvements. You can now search directly from there, making it more productive than having a whole separate page. Clearing all notifications is also a very nice step in the right direction. Having to clear notifications by each app was very annoying in iOS 9.
Siri has also been improved, but I haven’t had much time to test out her full capabilities just yet. This will change after more developers take advantage of Siri’s usefulness in their apps. I would assume this will start to show around iOS 10 Developer Beta 5 or 6. I currently don’t use any of the apps they showed off at WWDC that implemented Siri fully.
My favorite thing in all of iOS 10 is probably the revamped iMessage. I know people are absolutely going to love it. I only know one other person who has the developer beta right now, but I still prefer it over texting. I don’t think I’ll ever send a plain text message again unless I have to! Among the new features are drawing, like on the Apple Watch. This is very fun, and can lead to a more interesting conversation. I can only imagine how it will be in group chats! There is also the ability to make your message be presented to the person in different ways. If I want to say “hey”, but I don’t want it to sound boring, I just send it “loudly” using the different sending options. I can also have it slowly expand on their screen by sending it “gently”. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll put some screenshots below of the different ways to send text.
If you turn the phone sideways in an iMessage, you’ll get the handwriting send option. This allows you to write whatever you want, and it will send it to them just how you wrote it. It sounds gimmicky, but it’s actually pretty neat. I’m not sure if it’ll go over so well with people who use the landscape keyboard though. I haven’t found a way to activate that yet. There is a keyboard icon, but it doesn’t seem to activate it on my device. It’s probably just a bug that can be fixed in the future.
Invisible ink and photos is pretty cool too. You can send a picture, video, or text that will be scrambled (more like it’s in particles) until you swipe over it and reveal what’s underneath. After you’ve viewed it, it goes back to being “invisible” again. The view time for this is very fast, though. I would prefer it to last a bit longer, or for the sender to specify a time limit to view the content. It can be annoying at times.
There are only a few truly bad things. Most stuff just needs to be cleaned up and improved upon.
One thing that really annoys me is how the lock screen functions. As I stated earlier, I’m using iOS 10 on an iPhone 6. I never truly realized how much slower the fingerprint reader was on the iPhone 6 until I had to come back to it from the 6s/6s Plus. I don’t think they designed the lock screen with the slower fingerprint reader in mind. Here is the issue: When you go to unlock the device after waking it up via the power button, you have to press down the home button to do so. The more user-friendly route would be to just hold your finger to the reader and it unlocks. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it isn’t very fluid.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say this has something to do with the upcoming “3D Touch” home button for the iPhone 7. Of course, this isn’t confirmed, but it makes me think that is what’s coming. Pressing the home button to wake and unlock the device works fine. It’s a little slow, but that is to be expected with older hardware.
Another thing I don’t particularly like is the transition animation when going back to the home screen from some 3rd-party apps. It seems like it dials down the resolution to about 480p, and then glitches back to normal resolution. It might just be a bug, but it isn’t very pleasing to the eye. I was fine with the simple shrinking animation of iOS 9.
Also, I really hope they dial back the cartoonish look and feel that some of the UI has. Some parts seem a bit too “bubbly” and rounded. Sometimes, the notifications don’t seem to flow well with the rest of the UI because of this. It’s not a huge issue, but one that could be easily fixed.
Lastly, the scrollable pages where the pull-up toggles reside aren’t efficient. You have to swipe over a page when pulling up from the bottom of the screen just to get to the music navigation buttons. This isn’t very useful when you’re driving or trying to change music tracks quickly. I say put the Night Shift toggle on the second page, or at least let the user define what comes up first when first swiping up.
iOS 10 is very promising. In my opinion, it’s the best update since iOS 7. It is one of the reasons I’ll probably be using iOS as my daily driver when the iPhone 7 comes out. I base most of my decisions on what to use daily from a software perspective. What good is a really great piece of hardware if it isn’t easy to use and really optimized?
If you have anything to add regarding your likes and dislikes of the iOS 10 Beta, let me know in the comments below! I’ll be updating this article as more new features roll out in future betas.