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Ten Highlights of iOS 10

iOS 10 is here. The nearly 2 GB update is available via Settings > General > Software Update or through iTunes. See “iOS 10 Promises New Lock Screen, Open Siri, and More” (13 June 2016) for an overview of the major new features.

There was an initial issue that caused the over-the-air update to brick iOS devices, which is now fixed. If you did brick your device, update iTunes to the latest version and use it to restore your device.

iOS 10 can run on the iPhone 5, iPad mini 2, iPad Air, iPad Pro, and sixth-generation iPod touch or later. Yes, the venerable iPad 2 and iPad mini have finally been dropped, as has the iPhone 4 series, so people with those older devices will have to stick with iOS 9 or earlier.

I’ve spent all summer exploring iOS 10 while working on “iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course,” and I’d like to share ten of the most useful and relevant highlights to help you make the most of iOS 10.

How Do I Unlock It? — The first major change you’ll notice with iOS 10 is that Swipe to Unlock, a trademark of the iPhone since the beginning, is gone. Also, you can’t unlock your Touch ID-equipped device by merely resting your finger on the Home button; there is a setting to return to the old Touch ID behavior, but first let me explain why Apple made this sure-to-be-controversial change.

There are now two ways to unlock your device from the Lock screen:

  • Touch ID: Place your finger on the Touch ID sensor. Notice how the lock icon at the top of the screen first says Unlocked and then vanishes. You can now press the Home button to get to the Home screen.

    With a bit of practice, you can master the art of “press, release, and linger” to unlock your Touch ID device and jump instantly to the Home screen (But keep reading, because you may not always want to do this). Just make sure that you don’t press and hold the Home button, because that summons Siri.

  • Passcode: Press the Home button and then enter your passcode to reach the Home screen.

So why is the venerable Slide to Unlock gone? Because when you swipe from left to right on the Lock screen now, you’re taken to the new Widgets screen. That’s right, widgets are no longer confined to Notification Center — they are now accessible from the Lock and Home screens as well.

There’s also a new way to access the Camera app from the Lock screen: swipe from right to left. Press Home to return to the Lock screen from Camera.

That explains Slide to Unlock, but why is it harder to unlock the device with Touch ID? Because, for security reasons, some widgets require authentication before you can use them. In the past, Touch ID would have taken you straight to the Home screen, defeating the purpose of making widgets accessible on the Lock screen.

Also, notifications are smarter in iOS 10. Swipe one from right to left and tap View to see a list of actions, or 3D Touch the notification. These action lists will grow as developers take more advantage of iOS 10’s new notification tools, such as live notifications, which allow photos and even videos to be embedded in notifications. Again, in the past, unlocking meant going straight to the Home screen, dismissing all notifications, sometimes before you’d had a chance to see them.

Now, with iOS 10, you can easily work on the Lock screen without unlocking and going to the Home screen. Wake up the phone by pressing and releasing the Home or Sleep/Wake buttons. If you need to authenticate to perform an action on the Lock screen, you can scan your fingerprint or enter your passcode without pressing the Home button and unlocking the device.

Here’s an example of where this is useful: on the Lock screen, swipe from left to right to enter the Widgets screen. Scroll down and tap Edit. You’ll be prompted to use Touch ID or enter a passcode. If you have a device with Touch ID, now you can scan your finger without getting dumped into the Home screen.

Also, if you have a newer iPhone — iPhone 6s or later — you can merely raise your phone to wake the screen, much like the Apple Watch. It’s a nice touch, but if you dislike it, disable Raise to Wake in Settings > Display & Brightness.

These changes make the Lock screen far more powerful — you may not have to unlock your iOS device nearly as often!

However, if you have trouble with the new Touch ID unlock behavior after trying it for a while, you can change it back in Settings > General > Accessibility > Home Button by enabling Rest Finger to Open.

3D Touch Everything — If you don’t have an iPhone 6s or later, skip this tip. But if you do have one, you’ll be happy to see how many apps now support 3D Touch in interesting ways. In particular:

  • If you 3D Touch an app icon that has an accompanying widget, iOS displays that widget in a popover. Seriously, try 3D Touching all the apps you use regularly for interesting shortcuts.

  • Image

  • 3D Touch the flashlight button in Control Center to set the intensity of the flashlight. Also, you can 3D Touch the timer button to choose a preset interval.

If you have an iPhone 6s or later, but haven’t been enthused with 3D Touch, give it another try!

Check Your Memories — iOS 10 has revved up its artificial intelligence engine to make the Photos app a lot smarter with facial and object recognition. Try searching for “trees” or “dogs” and you might find that Photos shows separate results for different types of dogs and trees. You can even ask Siri to “search for photos of oak trees,” for instance.

Apple also uses this new intelligence in a new view, called Memories. Memories are automated collections of photos and videos, collected by location, date, or even people in the photo.

Here’s the problem Memories solves: you take thousands of pictures with your iPhone, but you rarely go back to look at them — there are just too many! Disciplined photographers sort their photos into albums, but most people don’t have time for that.

Memories may take a while to generate after you install iOS 10, but since they’re added frequently, check back regularly. I’ve been enjoying them greatly.

When you view Memories, you’ll notice that the header is a video. It takes a bit to generate once you tap play, but once it does, you’ll get a full slideshow with a soundtrack.

You can edit those videos, and I explain how in “iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course,” but the bigger problem is that Photos can generate collections of photos you don’t want to see. To get rid of a shabby memory, view it, scroll down, and tap Delete Memory. You can also tap Add to Favorite Memories to save the memory in the list.

My recommendation is to check your Memories regularly, delete the ones you don’t want, and favorite those you like. It’s an easy way to build an archive of pleasant memories without sorting through thousands of photos.

Filter Your Mail — My favorite feature in iOS 10 Mail is that threads now display your own messages. That’s been my top iOS pet peeve for years, and it’s great to see Apple finally agreeing with me. Mail also offers two additional new features for making your inbox a saner, happier place.

First, you can now filter mail in iOS. Filters aren’t like rules in Mail in macOS; they’re just a way to narrow what you see in a particular mailbox. Tap the new filter button in the lower left to apply a filter. If you look at the bottom-center of Mail, you see a Filtered By line. Tap that to adjust the filter.

Second, Mail simplifies the task of unsubscribing from mailing lists. Open such a message from a mailing list, and you’ll see a banner at the top that says “This message is from a mailing list,” followed by an Unsubscribe link. Tap that, and then tap Unsubscribe again at the prompt to unsubscribe from that mailing list. Or dismiss the banner by tapping the X button to the side, which also prevents the banner from appearing on future messages from that list.

Delete Stickers in Messages — Messages includes a number of features that you’ll either find fun or annoying — or both. Press and hold the send button to see bubble and screen effects; tap the heart icon to see Digital Touch effects, or tap the App Store icon to see a wide variety of Messages apps.

There’s so much new in Messages that I dedicated an entire chapter of “iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course” to them. But one feature that I guarantee everyone will be talking about is stickers. Stickers are one of the many new app types in iOS 10 messages. You can tap one to insert it into a message, or press, hold, and drag a sticker to slap it on top of an existing message bubble.

Stickers can be fun, but they can also be obnoxious. There’s no limit to the number of stickers that can be slapped on a message, which means that an annoying friend could obscure your entire conversation.

When you receive a message bubble, press and hold it to see additional new options, including Sticker Details. Tap that to reveal a list of stickers in the conversation. Swipe a listing from right to left to reveal a delete button, which removes that sticker.

Hopefully Apple will improve this interface throughout iOS 10’s lifespan, but this should help maintain your sanity for now. (Adam can’t figure out why anyone would put up with someone who would spam stickers; it’s easier to ignore or block someone with such annoying communication habits.)

By the way, if you find the new bubble and screen effects irritating, you can reduce their effects by enabling Reduce Motion in Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.

Set News Notifications — In iOS 10, the News app features a fresh, bold design. Notably, those whose vision isn’t perfect will appreciate the darker text and headlines. The app is also faster than before, and in the For You view, it adds new headers such as Top Stories, Trending Stories, Politics, Sports, and more to help you sort through the day’s news.

What I’ve found the most useful are the new notifications you can enable in News. Go to the Favorites view and tap the bell in the upper left. On the Notifications screen, you can choose which of your favorite sources can send you notifications — all are disabled by default, but you may receive notifications when a favorite news source adds the notification feature.

News also includes two Apple-provided notification sources: News Editors’ Picks and News Top Stories. I’m a fan of News Top Stories, which has so far sent me very few notifications and only for important news stories, unlike some other news apps that send “BREAKING!” notifications for the tiniest bit of trivia (cough CNN cough).

Baby, You Can Find My Car — Here’s an everyday problem: you park in a mall or a megastore with a sprawling parking lot, spend some time shopping, walk out, and… can’t remember where you parked. I do this all the time, and I always feel stupid wandering around the parking lot looking for my car.

Maps in iOS 10 can solve your problem, but only if you have some sort of Bluetooth or CarPlay connection in your car, such as the manufacturer’s audio system, a third-party stereo, or something like a Bluetooth FM transmitter. (I’ve heard reports that this feature requires a manufacturer Bluetooth stereo. If you know otherwise, let me know in the comments!)

If you have the appropriate equipment, check Settings > Maps and make sure that Show Parked Location is enabled — it should be on by default.

After that, when you get out of your car, you should receive a notification on your iPhone telling you where you parked your car. When it’s time to find your car, you can either open that notification or ask Siri where your car is to get directions back to it.

Collaborate with Notes — The Notes app saw a lot of love from Apple in iOS 9, and it receives even more Apple affection in iOS 10 with the addition of note collaboration.

Here is how to use it: in a note, tap the people icon, tap Add People, choose a contact method (in my testing, Messages worked best), and send an invite. Multiple people can collaborate on a note, and once they accept the invite, they can start making changes to the note. You can stop sharing by tapping the people icon again, and then either swiping a person from right to left or tapping Stop Sharing.

Unfortunately, like iWork for iCloud, collaboration is rudimentary. You can’t see who’s currently in the document or who has made edits. However, for sharing simple lists and other things, it’s a handy way to collaborate with friends and family.

Remove Tips — Here’s a tip: you can now remove the Tips app, as well as many other bundled “junk” apps on iOS. Of course, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, but here’s the surprisingly large list of bundled apps you can remove:

  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Compass
  • Contacts
  • FaceTime
  • Find My Friends
  • Home
  • iBooks
  • iCloud Drive
  • iTunes Store
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Music
  • News
  • Notes
  • Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • Stocks
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • Voice Memos
  • Watch
  • Weather

Note that “removing” an app doesn’t actually delete it from your device — iOS merely takes it off your Home screen. However, deleting the app will delete the data contained in the app. If you want to bring the app back again, search for it in the App Store and “reinstall” it.

Read the Fine Print — In “New Accessibility Features Coming to Apple’s Ecosystem” (11 August 2016), Steven Aquino wrote about the new Magnifier feature, which turns your iOS device into a magnifying glass. This capability has been offered by third-party apps for a while (see “Lumin Turns Your iPhone into an Illuminated Magnifier,” 4 January 2012), but in iOS 10, it’s available with a quick triple-press of the Home button. Enable it in General > Accessibility > Magnifier.

The Magnifier looks remarkably similar to the Camera app. Use the slider to zoom in or out. Tap the shutter button to freeze the image in place — another quick tap on the viewfinder sharpens the image, which is useful if your hands were shaking. Other buttons turn on the flash, lock the focus, and add color filters.

Even if you don’t have significant visual impairments, the Magnifier is super handy for checking the fine print on any document or reading tiny serial numbers.

Bonus Tips — iOS 10 has so many great features that I had trouble focusing on just ten. Here are a few more things to note:

  • The Music app is a lot better now, and Apple Music now features two regularly updated playlists: My Favorites Mix, updated every Wednesday with your favorite tunes, and My New Music Mix, updated every Friday with new music that Apple’s algorithms think you’ll like.

  • The new Home app is awesome. If you’ve been considering purchasing some HomeKit accessories, now is the time. I recommend the Philips Hue smart lightbulb system (see “Getting Started with the Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs,” 1 August 2016).

  • The Phone app now automatically transcribes your voicemails, at least in theory. Neither I nor most other TidBITS contributors yet see this feature, which Apple still labels as being in beta, so don’t worry if you aren’t getting transcripts either.

  • Mail, Contacts, and Calendars are now three separate entries in the Settings app, which fixes another one of my iOS pet peeves.

  • The keyboard click sound has been redesigned, and is surprisingly pleasant. If you usually leave Keyboard Clicks off in Settings > Sounds, try turning it on.

  • Safari no longer limits the number of open tabs. Press and hold the Pages icon to see an option to close all tabs.

There is so, so much more to iOS 10, and I’m speaking with some confidence about that, given that I just wrote a 143-page book about it. For complete coverage, check out “iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course,” which covers every new feature in iOS 10, including a full chapter dedicated to HomeKit and the Home app.

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