Siri opens up, and the iPhone gets a little deeper, with iOS 10
At WWDC 2016 today Apple has been busy announcing improvements to its four software platforms, including iOS. iOS 10, due out later this year, doesn't have any major new headline-grabbing features but does include a host of minor improvements that should add more depth and nuance to the experience of using the mobile OS.
Many of the new features are related to the apps built into iOS. Maps, Photos, News and Apple Music all get slightly redesigned interfaces and a bunch of improvements, from more proactive recommendations in Maps to curated playlists in Apple Music that suggest new tunes you might like once a day.
The Photos app, for example, now uses what Apple calls "deep learning" to recognize places, objects and people in your images. It can automatically group together images based on times or locations and will even create a short movie of memories for you based around photos and videos from a certain event (all features currently available in Google Photos).
Maps will be able to warn you about traffic up ahead and suggest a different route while Apple Music gets integrated lyrics support for singing along with your tunes. As we've said, these aren't massive changes, but they all add up to a decent upgrade for iOS.
There's going to be a new Home app in iOS 10 that finally provides a user-facing interface for Apple's HomeKit platform (possibly in advance of Apple's rumored Amazon Echo rival). Home, which also integrates into Control Center, can be used to manage all of your HomeKit devices and set up certain "scenes" or groups of settings that come into play at different times in the day.
Messages is getting more than its fair share of updates, with support for bigger emoji, rich links embedded in the app, an "invisible ink" feature that keeps messages hidden until you swipe over them, and the option to make your text bubbles appear "loud" or "quiet" (a lot like the feature arriving with Google's Allo app in the near future).
There's now the option to handwrite messages or send little drawings through the Messages app – all features that brings it up to speed with the many other instant messaging apps out there.
Outside of apps, the biggest changes are coming to the lock screen and notifications. As well as a cleaner look, the lock screen is getting a "Raise to Wake" feature that shows alerts without a touch on the screen – you simply lift up your phone to see them, much like on a smartwatch. And with phones that support 3D Touch (right now that's just the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus), you can dive right into apps from the lock screen itself.
The Control Center is being given a simpler, cleaner look, and lock screen widgets are getting a visual tidy up too.
As for Siri, Apple is opening up the digital assistant to developers, which means the list of tasks Siri can take on is about to get a lot longer. From sending a WhatsApp message to hailing an Uber, you can expect to be able to do much more with your voice when iOS 10 rolls around later this year.
Apple is also adding some Siri smarts to the iOS keyboard, improving the suggestions it makes and offering quick links to insert useful information (like your current location).
A public beta of iOS 10 is going to be available from July if you want to live on the cutting edge, before it rolls out fully in the fall (Northern hemisphere). The software will run on the iPhone 5 or later, the iPad 2 or later, and the 5th generation iPod or later.
You can see some of the new features in iOS 10 in Apple's demo video below.
Product page: Apple