iOS 10 will improve messaging, notifications and music
The next release of iOS promises a raft of new features covering everything from text input to music listening.
iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) make up the bulk of Apple’s profits these days, with annual "full" releases the place where Apple tends to reveal new features. Apple’s iOS 10 will feature a number of new enhancements to the iOS experience designed, if you believe Apple’s hype, to make the iOS experience easier and more fun.
Just in case you were hanging out for a new iPhone release, don't get excited just yet; that'll come later in the year, probably at the exact same time that iOS 10 is fully available. Apple announced developer availability for iOS 10 from today, with a public beta in July and full availability in the US "fall", which means it'll hit Australia sometime in the spring.
The next generation of iOS will feature a number of extensions that allow developers to access core iOS features. Odds are, you’re not an app developer, but this does open up new avenues for Apps to integrate with features such as Siri and Apple Maps.
Just as it’s doing with Siri on the new MacOS Sierra desktop, developers will be able to integrate Siri into their apps for voice activation features. Siri will now support VoIP calling apps and payment systems.
Speaking of calling Apps, Apple is also redesigning its phone app to incorporate third party applications such as Skype and WeChat, so that calls from those sources will appear as though they’re normal calls, and your contacts will interactively reveal the ways you tend to call people based on app. For actual phone calls, voicemail text transcription will be built in, although that’s likely to be a carrier-supported feature, like the new feature that allows carriers to flag suspicious phone calls as possible scam/phishing calls.
The lock screen has been redesigned with increased 3D Touch interactivity for accessing elements such as messages and calendar appointments. A slide motion from the right will launch the camera, while sliding from the left will allow you to access widgets, which can also have enhanced 3D touch functionality. The new Raise To Wake feature will bring up the lock screen when an iPhone is picked up, although again similar features have existed on other smartphone platforms previously.
The keyboard on iOS 10 will enhance the text entry side of the iOS experience, with multilingual typing support and enhanced emojis in the messaging app, as well as what Apple’s calling "emojification" of messages if you get to the end of a message and want to add them. Messages will also support handwritten messages, "invisible ink" messages that are revealed with a swipe, and full integration of Apple Music. Like Apple’s other iOS features, Messaging is also opened to developers to create their own add-on apps as well.
The Photos app will be updated with more intelligent image recognition, as well as a feature called "Memories" that will allow you to create quick slideshows and movies based on events. That’s a feature that Apple’s widely cribbed from a number of different sources, but could be useful for iOS-only households.
Apple Maps will be updated with more proactive suggestions, live traffic (where Apple is able to hook into it) and, as befits a developer keynote, open access to Apple Maps for developers.
Apple has also redesigned its iOS Music app. Apple Music was widely derided for being too complex, and Apple’s responded to that with an all-new Apple Music app said to be redesigned "from the ground up". The emphasis is on everyday features, including embedded lyrics, easier access to downloaded music and music discovery.
Apple News will be updated with subscription support allowing you to read magazine and newspaper content within the News app. Important News stories will be delivered directly to the lock screen, hopefully with an opt-out function if you’re not a fan of spoilers. Apple’s HomeKit gets its own "Home" app for full synchronisation of all HomeKit-enabled equipment, as well as being added to the Home screen for quick security access.
Apple will make iOS 10 available for iPhone 5 or better, iPad 4th generation or better, iPad Mini 2 or better, 6th generation iPod Touch and all models of iPad Air and iPad Pro. As with previous releases it's quite likely that older devices won't get every single new iOS 10 feature.