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September 15, 2016

Apple iOS 10: Should You Upgrade?

It’s the big one. Apple iOS 10 has landed and it represents one of the biggest upgrades to iOS in recent years. But iOS 10 also kills off support for a number of older iPhones, iPads and iPod touch and it also suffered initial installation problems after release. So should you upgrade? Let’s take a look…
Apple iOS 10 upgrade

Apple iOS 10 upgrade

Who Is iOS 10 For?

Apple iOS 10 is designed for the iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4th gen or later, iPad mini 2 or later, iPad Pro range and the 6th generation iPod touch or later. Users are automatically prompted to upgrade, but if you don’t yet have a notification you can manually trigger it by going to Settings > General > Software Update

As always, the size of iOS updates differs significantly depending on your device. In the case of iOS 10 it is a major release and typically weighs in between 600MB and 1.2GB.

The Deal Breakers

iOS 10 continues where iOS 9.3.5 left off: it also blocks the recent Pangu jailbreak and it is unlikely the two major jailbreaking teams – Pangu or TaiG – will come up with a workaround any time soon.

In addition iOS 10 had a controversial start to life after upgrade problems saw a number of iPhones and iPads fail the installation and require resetting via iTunes. Apple confirmed the bug to The Verge and has now implemented a fix, but cautious users may prefer to wait a little longer before upgrading.

Finally, being a major iOS update, there are a lot of isolated incidents being reported by users in Apple’s official Support Communities forum. These include sluggish performance, weaker battery life, Bluetooth glitches and incompatibility with some third party accessories (such as battery cases) but none have so far been shown to affect a wide number of users.

So What Do You Get?

Unlike the final upgrades to iOS 9 which primarily focused on security patches, iOS 10 adds numerous new features. The highlights of which are:

New Notifications – iOS 10 goes a long way towards catching up with Android’s strongest feature with ‘Rich Notifications’. These allow direct interaction with notifications from the lockscreen (reply, view videos, etc) and there’s additional notification functionality for 3D Touch compatible devices (iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 series).

Improved widgets - gone from the notification bar, widgets are now found in the lockscreen, Spotlight and even some app icons themselves for 3D Touch capable iPhones. From launch these include official Apple apps: Calendar (Up Next), Phone (Favorites), Mail, Maps (Maps Destinations / Nearby / Transit), Music, Notes, Photos (Memories) and Tips.

iMessage Overhaul - one of the most hotly anticipated upgrades is the radical reinvention of iMessage. Endless new ways to interact have been added, from ‘invisible ink’ (expiring messages), gifs and custom animations, to handwritten notes and a mass of new emoji.

Raise To Wake - mirroring a common Android feature, iOS 10 will automatically wake devices to show their notifications when they are picked up. Unfortunately it is only for the iPhone 6S series and above.

Smarter Siri - in iOS 10 Siri has finally been opened up to third party app developers. For example, this allows voice controls to create and send WhatsApp messages, initiate Skype calls, request an Uber taxi, etc. The sky’s the limit, though it is another Android catch-up feature.

Home hits prime time - a slow burner, Apple’s IOT platform is now ready for the mainstream in iOS 10 and the Home app allows for control of all HomeKit compatible devices from a single app – whether they are thermostats, lights or the garage door. ‘Scenes’ can also be set where a single button performs a variety of actions, such as setting your environment for a romantic evening or movie night.

Apple Photos challenges Google Photos - an ‘assistant’ mode comes to Apple Photos to mimic one of the best features in Google Photos. The assistant automatically cherry picks from your photos and videos to make collages, montages and slideshows. It will also be able to recognise photos by search description (eg ‘beach’) and all processing is done on the phone, unlike Google Photos which uses Google’s servers.

Apple Maps steps up – after an awful launch, Apple Maps is an increasingly credible service. iOS 10 brings an improved UI, mid-route stops, ‘smart routing’ (which allows pre-planning of journeys based off calendar entries) and support for third party app integrations such as restaurant booking and taxi hire. There were all previously key Google Maps advantages

Polished Apple Music - iOS 10 brings a new UI, Search table and lyrics support.

Collaborative Notes - finally rivalling the likes of Google Keep, Evernote and Wunderlist, Apple Notes now enables people to share and work on notes together.

Polished Apple Music - iOS 10 brings a new UI, Search table and lyrics support.

Clever Clock - a ‘Bedtime Alarm’ can automatically add sleep schedule reminders in line with user preferences.

iPad Specific Upgrades - Safari gets Split View support allowing two tabs to be shown side-by-side. A real productivity booster.

Apple iOS 10 Install Verdict: A Cautious Thumbs Up

As always with major iOS releases, there are always isolated reports of issues but there have been no show stoppers in iOS 10 as yet (excluding the early rollout glitch Apple has now fixed).

For cautious iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users you won’t suffer in waiting a few days to ensure none of the isolated reports escalate, but bleeding edge Apple fans can jump into iOS 10 feet first now and enjoy all the benefits it brings.

The Road Ahead

Apple tends to release patches quite soon after major releases, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see iOS 10.1 or iOS 10.01 before September is out. But don’t expect any significant new features and functionality in them beyond Apple’s previously stated plans to enable an enhanced portrait camera mode which has improved Bokeh (a background blurring effect).

Text by Forbes

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