Apple fans rejoice, these new iOS 10 features are arriving next week.
Ever since Apple’s WWDC Conference back in June, Apple fans and casual consumers alike have been eagerly awaiting these new features. From a fun new iMessage to an improved Apple Music, these updates are sure to delight; here they are for your anticipatory perusal.
For many iPhone addicts, iMessage is a way of life. As an Android user, I’ve had many friends complain that my texts appear green, to which my response is normally, “Sorry?” Despite its popularity, iMessage use rates pale in comparison to other messaging apps.
WhatsApp, the cross-platform messaging app, has around 1 billion users, three times that of iMessage. This is likely because iMessage is only available on iPhones, and because iMessage is currently little more than a slightly enhanced SMS client.
But with iOS 10, iMessenger is moving to compete. The improvements can be grouped into two categories: fun and functional. Let’s start with the fun.
Handwritten Messages, Custom Bubbles, Stickers, and Invisible Ink
In these expressive updates, Apple is adding finger drawings and handwritten notes as well as customized message “bubbles.” For example, a message balloon might shake or dance, showing the sender’s excitement.
The next feature, “Stickers,” are tiny images that can be sent in lieu of or on top of message bubbles. The example stickers shown on the iOS 10 preview are part of a Disney tie-in, with characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck making appearances (likely a move towards monetization).
Finally, users will be able to send hidden texts or pictures that can be revealed with a swipe. Not an incredibly useful feature, but a neat way to build suspense or tell jokes.
These updates in particular seem geared towards Millennials, the largest user base of messaging apps worldwide. Apple is betting that these fun new features will help steal users away from Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other competitors.
Now, for the more functional features.
Contextual Predictions, “Tap Back” Reactions, and iMessage Apps
For added speed when typing, Apple has added “Contextual Predictions,” or suggestions based on what you’re about to say. The example used is that when someone mentions a contact, their phone number appears in a prediction bar.
Another convenient feature, “Tap Back,” is a simple way of quickly responding to a text message. Similar to Facebook’s Reactions, they let users send a brief “thumbs up” and other indicators, eliminating the need for those awkward “Ok” texts letting friends know you got their message.
With “iMessage Apps”, Apple is actually a bit ahead of the curve. iMessage Apps let developers create versions of their apps that work directly from iMessage. Now, users can create calendar events, send money using Apple pay, and much more, all from iMessage.
One last functional feature that will help out the world’s bilingual population is “Multilingual Typing”. Now, users will be able to add multiple languages to their keyboard to auto-correct and predict in “múltiples languages.”
Siri Gets Smart
Back in ‘11, Siri felt revolutionary. Having an “AI assistant” was novel and felt futuristic.
But times have changed. Now, Siri has some mean competition in the form of Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and others. With iOS 10 however, Siri is finally learning some new tricks. Apple has smartly opened up Siri to allow developers to integrate it with other apps.
With the brand new SiriKit, the potential use cases span far and wide. Hopefully, for iPhone and Mac users (as Siri will soon be appearing on Apple computers), Siri’s expanded capabilities will create a true conversational interface.
One Apple software product that’s received more than its fair share of grief over the years is Maps. The launch of Maps was so filled with problems that it forced them to create the iOS Open Beta Program to prevent future fiascos. Now, complaints have slowed, but Apple is still about to revamp Maps.
In iOS 10, not only will directions be improved, but you’ll be able to find a restaurant along the route to your destination and make reservations right from the Maps app. These updates may not seem huge, but they’ll go a long way in making Maps a better competitor against the popular Google Maps.
While Apple is a bit late to the smart home/internet of things party, it's better late than never. A controller for devices on Apple’s Homekit, the Home app will allow users to “turn on lights, unlock doors, and even raise window shades.”
The iOS 10 features preview website makes no mention of how your phone will command your lights and appliances, but with the IoT market expanding rapidly, we should expect Apple to release some Homekit hardware to make that possible within the next couple of years.
Revolutionary? No. But it should be a fine foray into the market nonetheless.
iOS 10 features that don’t make the big list include an updated Apple Music, “rich notifications,” Google Photos-style image galleries, and a variety of other aesthetic updates. For a full list of these new iOS 10 features, visit Apple’s iOS 10 Preview.
These iOS 10 features come at a crucial time for Apple and their shareholders. Timed with the release of the iPhone 7, the upgraded OS should help build some hype for the iPhone, whose sales have been lagging in 2016.
Apple has made their bet on being the most “premium” product on the market, but other devices such as higher-end Samsung, HTC, and Google phones are quickly catching up. Will these new features have any real impact on iPhone sales? We’ll have to wait until after the September 13 release date to find out.