Siri might be grabbing the spotlight at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference 2016, but the company's biggest software star is still the iPhone and iPad operating system: iOS. Apple has just made iOS 10 official at its keynote in San Francisco and is now running through the major new features we can expect from its next big upgrade. Follow along with our list below or tune in to our WWDC 2016 liveblog for up-to-the minute updates and photos.
- Before diving into iOS proper, Apple introduced a new Apple TV remote app. "A lot of our customers have told us they would love an app on their iPhone with the same capabilities as the Siri remote," said Eddy Cue. The app uses touch, voice to control Siri, and motion controls for playing games. You can enter text with the regular keyboard.
- Another new feature bridging the gap between tvOS and iOS is the automatic download of apps across your devices. Download, for example, the MLB app on your iPhone and it automatically gets installed on your Apple TV as well.
- Extending its Continuity effort to make it easier to work across Apple devices, the company also introduced a new Universal Clipboard, which was greeted with exuberant whoops and cheers. Basically, snippets of text, hyperlinks, and the like that you copy on one iOS or macOS device will be available on all the others.
- This is "the biggest iOS release ever for our users," said Craig Federighi. He notes there are 10 major new features in the new OS. The highlights include a redesigned lock screen with rich notifications, quick interactions with apps, and expanded use of 3D Touch.
- A new "Raise to wake" feature will, as the name suggests, wake the phone's lock screen when it's lifted to give you an overview of notifications and updates. The new notifications look significantly different and, with the use of a 3D Touch, you can respond to and interact with the app sending them immediately. This is very much in line with what Google's been doing with Android.
- The expansion of 3D Touch on the home screen includes widgets for apps that don't require you launching the app at all. You'll be able to see things like the latest sports scores with the ESPN app, and even get into video highlights, without entering the app proper.
- Apple is opening up Siri to developers. Now you'll be able to ask things like "send a WeChat to Nancy saying I'll be five minutes late." That brings up an interface to interact with WeChat directly. Supported apps already include Slack, WeChat, and WhatsApp for communication, as well as Uber, Didi in China, Runtastic, Runkeeper, MapMyRun, and Skype (among others) for VoIP calls.
- Siri now has more contextual awareness. It makes intelligent suggestions based on your current location, calendar availability, contact information, recent addresses, and more. It's Siri growing more and more into the role of an AI or a bot. And yes, it's based on deep learning just like Google's rival system is.
- Also based on deep learning is a major update to the Photos app that adds new object and scene detection for powerful search and sorting on your device. All the AI is local to the device, Apple is keen to stress. The phone will cluster together photos that are most relevant at any moment — trips, photos of the last weekend or last year. It can then automatically edit together highlight reels of particular trips or events. It's just like HTC's Zoe photos. This is part of a new tab at the bottom of Photos called Memories, which shows you highlights and people, a map of locations, and related memories.
- Apple Maps is getting an all-new design in iOS. Eddy Cue says the new Maps is "a lot more proactive." Rather like Siri and Photos already are: a lot more predictive stuff being introduced. Maps will offer nearby restaurant suggestions and its redesigned look is extending to navigation: the UI is cleaner and includes traffic information. If there's a lot of traffic ahead, Maps will proactively offer you an alternative route and note how much time it would save. It's part of Apple CarPlay, naturally, and will also channel turn-by-turn directions right into your car's instrument cluster if you want it. Maps, like Siri, is being opened up to developers, who can now make use of its extensions. That will allow you to book and pay for a restaurant, book and pay for a Uber ride, and then track your ride, all without leaving the Maps app.
- Apple Music is also getting in on the refresh fun with "a redesign from the ground up." Eddy Cue says the new, simpler interface makes the music king, implicitly acknowledging that the old UI was a tiny bit convoluted. That being said, the tabs at the bottom appear unchanged: Library, For You, Browse, Radio, Search. Lyrics are also being added in the new version of Music.
- Apple News, like Music, launched last year and is getting a big update in iOS 10. The all-new News interface design has some visual affinities with the new Music, showing that Apple is working on a cohesive look across its new apps, with bold, all-caps sans serif titles. Apple News is also getting breaking news notifications and subscriptions in iOS 10. In-app subscriptions are a major new feature for the OS even beyond Apple's own apps.
- Apple Home is the first major all-new app today. It builds on Apple's HomeKit infrastructure to let you manage and control all your connected and compatible accessories around the home. HomeKit is now also built right into Apple's swipe-up Control Center, so it can be accessed even from your iPhone's lock screen. The Apple Watch will also include built-in home control support as well.
- The Phone app on the iPhone is also evolving, In iOS 10, it will have voicemail transcriptions so that you can see what messages have been received without having to listen to them. Additionally, the app can now detect when an unknown caller is potentially phone spam and will label those calls as such.
- Messages is the most frequently used app on iOS. It's getting rich links in the new iOS version, allowing things like videos to play right in line inside the message. Emoji have been made three times bigger and, much to the crowd's delight, Apple is going to highlight "emojifiable" words, which you'll be able to just tap and automatically turn into emoji. Just like Google's Allo, iOS 10 will allow you to say things using larger or smaller type. Messages is also getting bubble effects, which are just cute animations when displaying messages. Apple Music is integrated into Messages — can play a track right in line. And just like Maps and Siri, Messages are being opened up to developers with iMessage apps.
Among the laundry list of smaller updates: Live Photos are now performed with digital image stabilization and can be edited, while Safari on iPad is adding a new split-screen option in iOS 10. RAW photo editing is also part of the next version update. Apple closed off its presentation by underscoring its emphasis on security with its use of end-to-end encryption "by default" on all its messaging apps. The company also does all the deep learning stuff about the user directly on the device, not creating profiles in the cloud.
Probably the most-requested new addition in iOS 10 went unmentioned during Apple's keynote presentation: stock apps will be made removable. Company CEO Tim Cook had previously suggested that Apple would look to allow users to uninstall its default apps — things like Mail, Calendar, Weather, and Stocks — and the next iteration of iOS will indeed give users that extra control and freedom to choose.
iOS 10 will be available as a free update this fall for the following devices: iPhone 5 and higher, iPod touch 6th gen, iPad mini 2 and higher, and iPad 4th generation and the subsequent iPad Air and iPad Pro models. There's a small inconsistency between the presentation and the list of compatible devices on Apple's site, which also includes the 5th generation iPod touch and original iPad mini.