WWDC 16: Apple Takes Apps to New Level with Great New Features in iOS 10

WWDC 16: Apple Takes Apps to New Level with Great New Features in iOS 10

Give Apple credit. The tech giant can take apps that we’re familiar with, that we use every day, and envision fantastic new features. Maybe I’m easily impressed, but one more time I came away from an Apple event amazed by what the company has done with iOS 10 to make it more fun and useful. In closing, Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to it as a “gigantic release” that’s the “mother of all new releases.”

iOS 10 will be available in July as a public beta and will be available as a free download in the fall.

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Perhaps the biggest news is that Siri, Messages, and Maps are now open to third-party developers, greatly expanding their functionality. You’ll be able to order a Uber car just by asking Siri, or make restaurant reservations. Third-party apps in Messages will let you add cute animations. And you’ll be able to order food at a restaurant without leaving the Maps app.

Apple organized their presentation around 10 major new features of iOS 10. We’ll briefly look at each one in turn, but to get the full story you’ll need to watch the video.

1. Lockscreen — new design and functionality

You’ll now be able to do much more from the Lockscreen. First off, you’ll be able to wake it just by raising your arm. Notifications will now be more interactive. For example, you’ll be able to respond to a message right from the Lockscreen and view the entire conversation without leaving the Lockscreen.

It will also now be open to third-party apps, so, for example, if you have a call coming in from a third-party calling app, you’ll be able to see the caller’s photo on the Lockscreen. Also available from the Lockscreen will be an expanded Control Panel that you swipe one way to access your Widgets and the other way to access a new interface for using your camera.

2. Siri — open to developers

You’ll be able to do so much more now that Siri will be open to developers. Apple gave a long list of examples. If you want to send a WeChat message, you’ll be able to say, “Send a WeChat to Nancy saying I’ll be five minutes late.” Siri will know to open the WeChat app, get the contact info, enter the message, and send to Nancy.

Other examples including using Siri to search photo apps such as Shutterfly, control exercise apps such as Runtastic and Runkeeper, book a car via Uber, and make calls via VOIP apps such as Skype.

3. QuickType — gets a lot smarter

QuickType predicts words as you enter so that you don’t have to type the full word. And in iOS 10 it’s going to be a whole lot smarter. The predictions will use Siri’s intelligence to make better predictions based on content. These predictions will reflect, for example, your location or recent conversations in your email or messages. Plus, it will have dynamic access to other apps so if you’re making an appointment, it will check your calendar to see available times.

It will also have multilingual typing, such that it recognizes the language you’re typing in and will use the appropriate characters — without your having to switch keyboards.

4. Photos — includes amazing automated features

The Photos app gets a huge update in iOS 10, particularly with a feature called Advanced Computer Vision. Basically, the app will now use image recognition to identify people, places, scenes, objects, and more to automatically create albums of like photos. A Memories feature clusters photos to help surface memories of your past, such as a trip you took, a weekend you spent, people groups, topics.

Access the Memory tab, and the intelligence of Photos will now draw out special photos that are related, say of a particular person such as your aunt. The Photos app actually creates a video that draws in clips of videos and select photos, and automatically adds a music track. You can use a slider to adjust the length of the memory and to select a different type of music. The Photos app re-edits the video on the fly.

5. Maps — more intelligent, new information, open to developers

Not only is Maps now open to developers, but Apple has added some major new features, most a proactive feature similar to Google Now. You slide up from the bottom to see suggestions based on your location. If you’re interested in a restaurant, then you can slide across this bottom pane to view a list of restaurants in the area. And because the app is open to developers, you may even be able to make a reservation right from within the Maps app.

Another example Apple gave is booking a ride right from within the Maps app. You can pick a car, watch its progress, and make payment with Apple Pay without leaving the app.

The app now also gives much more information, such as traffic en route. As you’re traveling, you can zoom in to see the local traffic conditions, then pan out, and then even look ahead to see traffic issues that might be coming up. Also, as you travel, if you decide to stop someplace, such as at a restaurant, the app will then tell you how much longer your trip will take as a result.

6. Music — all new design, easier to use, and lyrics!

Apple Music now has over 15 million paid subscribers, and Apple has given it an all-new design, making it more intuitive. The biggest addition is the availability of lyrics as a song plays. The For You screen now has a Discover Mix that offers daily curated playlists. The Browse screen features top charts and curated playlists. Beats1 radio now has a listen-on-demand feature to music that has been played on the station. It also features genre-based stations. You'll now also be able more easily view your downloaded music by selecting the Library and tapping Downloaded Music.

7. News — new design and categories

The News app has a new design, with the For You screen being divided into categories such as top news, trending stories, sports, and featured stories. Plus, based on your viewing habits, the For You area will include categories related to your interests.

The app will also now offer subscriptions, such that you’ll be able to subscribe to and read publications such as National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal right from within the app. Plus, the app will now offer breaking news notifications.

8. HomeKit — new Home app for controlling your HomeKit accessories

As rumored, Apple introduced a Home app that will let you see and control all your HomeKit accessories. You’ll also be able to create and control scenes, and use Siri to interact with them. Depending on the accessories you have, you can say “Good Night” to Siri, and your doors will lock, shades will close, and lights will go off.

Plus, Home controls will now also be built into Control Center. For example, you may have a security camera as a HomeKit accessory, and if someone rings your doorbell, you can use Control Center to view the person right from your Lockscreen.

The Apple TV will now play a greater role in giving you remote access to your HomeKit devices. Geofencing will also be available, such that when you reach your driveway, you can set up a configuration of HomeKit accessories that automatically go on. The Home app will also be available via the Apple Watch.

9. Phone — voicemail transcription, integration with other calling apps

Voicemail will get more options in iOS 10, with the ability to receive transcripts of your voicemail messages. In addition, the new Phone app will be able to identify voicemail spam, which is getting to be a problem in countries like China.

The Phone app will now have more integration with other calling apps such as Skype. When you access a contact, you’ll be able to select which app you’d like to use to call that person. iOS 10 tracks what apps you like to use to call particular people and gives them as options. Another new feature is the ability to receive calls from other numbers, such as your work number.

10. Messages — a ton of new features, and open to developers

Apple saved the best for last, as the Messages app received a bunch of playful new features. The first they introduced was Rich Links. If you add a link to a message, the content of that link appears right in the message. If it’s a link to a video, the video will play right within the message.

Another new feature is that if you decide to take a photo from within the Messages app, you nice see a live image of what your camera is pointing at. 

Emojis got a lot of love, too. They’re now three times bigger, and the Messages app now has a prediction feature for Emojis. After you enter a message, this prediction feature highlights the words for which there’s an associated Emoji. Tap the word, and it’s replaced by the Emoji. 

A new Bubble Effects feature gives you a range of options regarding the bubble that your message appears in. You can change the size or behavior of the bubble. An Invisible Ink feature creates a bit of surprise for the recipient. Instead of seeing the message, the person sees a swarm of dots. As he or she swipes across the dots to erase them, the message appears.

A Tapback feature gives new options for responding, including handwritten messages. The app also now has full-screen effects. For example, you’ll be able to select from a range of lively animations to serve as a background image for your conversation. 

Perhaps most important, the Messages app will now be open to developers. One developer, for example, has created stickers that are like animated Emojis. Also, you’ll be able to attach stickers to photos. Other opportunities including making Apple Pay payments from within Messages and ordering food.

Cross-device integration

In other parts of the presentation Apple introduced features not mentioned curing the segment on iOS. Of particular interest was cross-device integration. If you’re ordering something online with your Mac, you’ll be able to use Touch ID on your iPhone or iPad to place the order, thanks to the platform’s Continuity feature. Also, you’ll now be able to cut and paste across devices, as the Clipboard also now takes advantage of Continuity.

Other features

Among other features briefly touched on are a new version of the Remote app for Apple TV that works pretty much identically to the Apple TV Remote. The Notes app now has a collaboration feature, and the Mail app will now have a conversation view.  You’ll now be able to edit Live Photos. A new feature for the iPad is Split View in Safari. Also, along with iOS 10 Apple will make available a new free Swift app for the iPad that will teach Swift programming. 

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.