Update: The iOS 10.2 update launched on Monday, further changing your iPhone and iPad. In addition to the all-new TV app and messaging changes, iOS 10.2 includes iOS 10.1 Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus. Here’s the latest.
Apple’s iOS 10 and iOS 10.2 updates for your iPhone and iPad really live up to the milestone software version number, bringing major changes to your daily phone and tablet routine.
You won’t recognize portions of the interface; that’s how different things are. But don’t worry, almost all of the new iOS 10 features are for the best – and absolutely free to download today.
We’ve been playing with the new iPhone and iPad software since the iOS 10 beta stage, and we’re still discovering new features with the iOS 10.2 and expecting an iOS 10.3 beta in 2017.
You’ll need some time to wrap your head around the new functionality of this mobile operating system, so we went ahead of broke it down for you. Here’s what we’ve learned about iOS 10 through iOS 10.2.
Watch our hands-on review of the iPhone 7
iOS 10.2 beta update
- iOS 10.2 launched on Monday, December 12
- Over 70 new emojis like shrug and fingers crossed
- Additional camera and TV app settings
- Celebration and Love message effects and three new wallpapers
Your iPhone is about to change yet again, as Apple launched iOS 10.2 on December 12, and it has some notable new features.
It introduces over 70 new emoji thanks to the adoption of Unicode 9 characters. Your iPhone is now the shortest way to express a ‘shrug’ and ‘fingers crossed.’
Hate constantly having to fiddle with camera setting each time they reset upon closing the app? Well, there’s a new configuration that lets you preserve them.
The ‘Preserve Settings’ camera submenu lets you lock in the camera mode (such as video, square, portrait), the photo filter (like chrome, mono and instant), and Live Photo (in case you want it off by default).
iOS 10.2 also jazzes you with a new ‘Celebration’ and ‘Love’ full-screen message effects and three new wallpapers. They’re artsy with different colored droplets.
There’s a new pre-loaded app from Apple and good news: you probably won’t want to immediately delete this one. It’s the all-new TV app.
It pulls from sources like iTunes and streaming services like HBO Now and Hulu. US networks like Fox, CBS, The CW, AMC, Comedy Central and Starz are here too.
The great thing about this is that, as you log into each, the TV app’s ‘Watch Now’ tab begins to populate with shows you are or should be watching. It breaks down the barriers between the different video apps out there.
Apple’s TV app is supposed to replace the neglected Videos app (but for some users, both apps are present). There’s no need for two now. The new app added our one and only TV show episode (a free iTunes promo from 2009) that ‘Videos’ had been carrying around. That tells you something about its past usefulness.
There’s thankfully a lot more to the all-encompassing TV app. Behind in scenes, there’s also a new settings menu for ‘TV Provider.’ It’s designed to let the TV app pull from subscription services like Dish and .
Basically, the new TV app delivers TV content no matter where it’s sourced from. It really breaks down the walls between siloed video apps on your iOS device.
Pro tip: There’s no Netflix channel in the ‘Store’ tab, but you can add individual Netflix shows through the ‘Search’ tab. Just search ‘Black Mirror’ and you’ll see a list of all three seasons and can open up any episode in Netflix.
Don’t see the iOS 10.2 TV app just yet? You’re not alone, actually. We didn’t see it until iOS 10.2 beta 5 and it may not launch outside the US immediately. As they say in TV, stay tuned.
iOS 10.1 update
- iOS 10.1 introduced Portrait Mode photos on iPhone 7 Plus
- Also added message replay functions and fixes bugs
- But iOS 10.1.1 users reported severe battery drain
Although Apple launches iOS 10 right on the nose on Tuesday, September 13 at 10am Pacific, it returned with another set of tweaks just 41 days later.
Portrait Mode is the highlight of iOS 10.1, but it can only be enjoyed by iPhone 7 Plus owners since it requires the rear dual-lens camera.
It’s a special camera mode within the default app that adds a distinct bokeh effect, which blurs the background and really accentuates on your subject.
Correctly framing shots in iOS 10.1 Portrait Mode can be difficult. This software-driven bokeh is picky about lighting (dimly lit environments just don’t work) and subject distance (not too far, but, hey, not too close either).
It can also be difficult to adjust to iOS 10.1 Portrait Mode because the camera angle of view is extremely cropped, tighter than when recording video. Take two steps back from where you normally shoot photos.
This awful persnickety bokeh mode comes through in the end. You can really tell the difference because Portrait Mode saves both the bokeh and non-bokeh photos to your camera roll for a quick comparison.
All iOS 10 devices can now replay message animations in iOS 10.1.1. In case you miss a friend’s iMessage with balloons or lasers, it can be replayed. Hooray! [Sent with Fireworks].
iOS 10.1 isn’t without its share of problems, including extreme battery draining issues. We’ve experienced – and users have reported worse battery life than normal. This appears to be limited to iOS 10.1.1, which is all the more reason to take a leap of faith and update to the iOS 10.2 beta.
TechRadar’s take: Download iOS 10.1 (or iOS 10.2 now), especially if you have an iPhone 7 Plus. Its new Portrait Mode adds an extra layer to the camera app, giving you photos that literally stand out from the new and also stunning and camera. Just avoid iOS 10.1.1.
iOS 10 compatibility
- Works with iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad mini 2 and iPod touch 6th gen or higher
- All 30-pin dock devices are out. Lightning or nothing!
iOS 10 is available on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, unless of course you have an age-old phone or tablet that still uses the 30-pin dock connector or an older iPad mini or iPod touch.
That’s where Apple draws the line in the sand for 2016. Its forthcoming mobile operating system update won’t support for iPhone 4S and iPad 2. The iPad mini and iPod touch 5th gen are the outliers that won’t work either despite having Lightning. Time to upgrade.
It’s not a big surprise. In addition many of them not lightning connections, these devices include 512MB of RAM and it’s miraculous that they even supported iOS 9 when we thought they’d be axed from that update last year. iOS 9.3 is their software swan song.
iOS 10 raise to wake
- Just pick up your iPhone and it’ll wake up
- Notifications don’t vanish when brushing up against Touch ID
Apple redesigned the iPhone and iPad lockscreen, giving us the biggest revision since the first iPhone nine years ago. Slide to unlock is gone and replaced with simple instructions: “Press Home to open.”
What’s been added is the ability to raise your iPhone to wake it, fixing the all-too-common issue of blowing past lockscreen notifications when you hit the fast TouchID home button.
This is the sleeper hit of iOS 10 that is going to change your daily iPhone routine.
TechRadar’s take: This is the best new iOS 10 feature. It makes reaching for the tiny, side-mounted sleep/wake button a thing of the past. iOS 10 is worth downloading for this reason alone.
Rich lockscreen notifications
- No need to exit the homescreen for quick reads and replies
- Works with third-party apps like Uber and Apple Home devices
You’ll see that notifications are broken up into bubbles now and use 3D Touch to show hidden menu actions – just hard press on a calendar invite alert and you’ll be able to accept or decline it.
3D Touch-enabled iOS 10 notifications work even better for Messages. You can immediately respond to messages as soon as you pick up your phone, without ever leaving the lockscreen. It’s all done inline.
No more digging around the home screen and layers of app menus to check vital information. If you have a doorbell camera notification, you can see who’s at the front door, use the intercom or unlock the door.
This “peeking at apps” capability via the lockscreen isn’t limited to Apple’s first-party apps. Uber is just one third-party app maker that allows you to hard press on notifications. You’ll get live updates on where your driver is on a map – usually headed in the other direction.
TechRadar’s take: You don’t really need to open your phone to do half of your daily tasks anymore. Replying to messages, accepting invitations or seeing where the heck your Uber driver is (answer: circling the wrong block a third time) can all be done from the lockscreen.
Clear all notifications button
- Vanquish all notifications at once with 3D Touch. That’s it.
What may be the best change to iOS 10 notifications is the ability to clear all of your old notifications with 3D Touch. Swiping them away one by one or dismissing them in groups is a time-consuming mess in iOS 9.
Just hard press that little “x” icon within the redesigned (and now dedicated) notifications pulldown menu and tap the “clear all” box that pops up. Tap it once to just dismiss the group of notifications.
It’s super easy to clear away expired alerts with iOS 10 and it will please everyone inflicted with phone notification-clearing OCD.
TechRadar’s take: Being able to clear all notifications has been a long time coming. Our only complaint is that it didn’t arrive sooner.
- iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are water-resistant, but all other iPhones are not
- iOS 10 will warn of possible water damage and provide instructions
Only the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are water-resistant, but Apple hasn’t made a fully waterproof iPhone. So it’s making it easier to avoid potential water damage with the iOS 10 update.
The software includes a warning message to unplug the lighting cable if the phone detects water. Don’t test it out, though.
For non-iPhone 7 owners, this iOS 10 message offers a clutch set of instructions, which you should follow, and subsequently put your phone in rice, if you believe that myth.
TechRadar’s take: This is peace of mind that we never want to actually see on our screens. Powering down a phone is important – we know from experience – and this message is literal damage control.
Control Center is decluttered
- Swipe-up-from-the-bottom menus is now split into several panels
- Broken into: quick settings, media playback and Apple Home
- Touch detection issues for brightness slider vs sliding between panels
The swipe-up-from-the-bottom Control Center overlay menu has a brand new look that helps declutters the layout in iOS 10, and it’s something Apple users have been asking for.
It once again features four app shortcuts along the bottom (flashlight, stopwatch, calculator and camera app) and moves the fifth Beatle, Night Shift, to a new, bigger spot above the quartet.
That fixes an issue where people said having five app shortcuts in that bottom row, a short-lived idea that came about when Night Shift debuted in iOS 9.3, made the buttons a tad too small.
Bigger AirPlay and AirDrop buttons appear above Night Shift, too, while toggles for Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Orientation lock are unchanged (except for their new blue hue when on).
But what happened to the music controls? Slide right on the Control Center, and there’s a dedicated pane for the volume, playback and device output controls, and even music album cover art.
TechRadar’s take: Control Center is simpler because each pane is decluttered, yet it’s more complex because there are multiple panes to slide through. Overall, it’s a wise design move by Apple, though there are obvious flaws. The touchscreen gets confused whenever we want to engage the brightness slider, switching the pane. It’s a pain! Also, Night Shift’s real estate is too big within the Control Center menu. It would be better served by adding a toggle for Apple’s amazing Low Power Mode, at least to half of Night Shift’s space.
Lockscreen camera and ‘widgets’
- Slide left to reveal the new spot for the Today widgets
- It’s not as customizable as Android widgets, but closer
- Too much empty space when widgets have no content
- Slide right to reveal the new camera shortcut
It’s easier than ever to flip on the camera with iOS 10 because sliding the lockscreen right (when Control Center isn’t open) automatically transitions to the camera app.
This is a camera app shortcut we’ve seen on several Android phones and it beats reaching for the bottom right corner, where the camera shortcut remains in iOS 9. You use the camera app everyday, why not make it easier to access?
What happens when you swipe to the left on the lockscreen? Glad you asked a second question. It reveals a new spot for Apple’s Today menu “widgets.” It’s not as customizable as Android widgets, but it’s new location a big improvement.
TechRadar’s take: The lockscreen is now very busy. But the Today menu is in a much better space than it was in the pulldown notifications shade, that’s now dedicated to notifications. We still see a problem with widgets not being dynamic. Boxes still show if you have no OpenTable reservations, flights on an airline or upcoming calendar appointments. These boxes should be hidden rather than taking up space telling us “we have no content to show.”
Graphical 3D Touch shortcuts
- 3D Touch (pop) your way to more detailed information (peek)
- Activity and sports score apps like ESPN provide colorful stats
Within the home screen, 3D Touching app tiles like Activity gives you a more graphical account of your fitness goals. You’ll know faster than ever that you have to close those daily activity rings.
ESPN had even richer shortcut information within its 3D Touch menu. It runs scores and there’s a button to easily add a widget. It’s even more graphical, throwing up a drawn out play-by-play interface and video of in-progress games you’re following.
All of this peeking at apps can be done without leaving the home screen, and it means that 3D Touch is becoming a little more relevant in iOS 10.
TechRadar’s take: More developers need to take advantage of 3D Touch’s new graphical capabilities, but from the apps we’ve played with, it makes the “right click of mobile” seem less plain.
Talk to Siri normally
- You don’t have to talk like a robot to your robot phone
Two billion requests a week go through Siri, and it’s now going to do “so much more,” according to Apple. With that, they announced that iOS 10 will open up Siri to third-party developers.
Now you’ll be able to ask Siri things like, “Send a WeChat to Nancy saying I’ll be five minutes late.'” It can be said variety of ways and still understood by the now-smarter Siri.
In (very literal) other words, Siri also works just fine if you say it like “Tell Nancy I’ll be five minutes late with WeChat,” and even “Siri, can you shoot a message on WeChat and say I’ll be five minutes late?”
Siri for iOS 10, all of a sudden, is going to be a whole lot less “Sorry…” for miscues. This is thanks to what Apple calls an “intense API,” which even functions in this new way in its multiple languages.
TechRadar’s take: Siri is less frustrating to use in iOS 10. Saying what you want however you want to your personal assistant means you’re likely to get results the first time around.
Siri third-party apps
- Siri now works with more third-party apps, not just Apple’s apps
- WhatsApp, Uber and MapMyRun can now use Siri, for example
Besides WeChat, Siri is ready for other chat apps, like WhatsApps and Slack, and ride hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Didi in China (which Apple invested in recently).
Searching photos through apps like Shutterfly and Pinterest can be done with your voice thanks to Siri, and you can start, pause and stop fitness workouts with MapMyRun, Runtastic and RunKeeper.
Siri can also help you send money to friends with Number26, Square and Alipay, or start a VoIP call to tell your friend why you’re not paying them on time via Cisco Spark, Vonage and Skype.
This makes Siri much more useful now that Apple’s personal assistant has broken free of pre-loaded apps, and makes driving a tiny bit safer thanks to messaging and VoIP integration for Apple CarPlay.
TechRadar’s take: Developers are just starting to take advantage of Siri, and it’s beneficial. It’s not game changing just yet, but has the potential to drive more voice-controlled automation by the time iOS 11 launches.
Siri-influenced QuickType keyboard
- Makes next-word suggestions based on whole sentence context
- Suggests address, calendar appointments and current locations
Apple’s on-screen QuickType keyboard can intelligently tell the difference between what you’re saying and what computers usually think you’re saying (but not) thanks to more advanced Siri intelligence.
Using deep learning kept locally, or what Apple calls “differential privacy,” iOS 10 understands the wider context of what you’re typing, influencing the words in the suggestion bar above the keyboard.
It has better context by taking into account the whole sentence, not just spitting out the next guess based on the previous word.
This will be completely opt-in, masked and stored on the device, according to Apple. That’s different from Google’s data-harvesting using its online servers.
QuickType is also adding a handy button for your current location whenever someone asks “Where are you?” or requests someone else’s contact information. That Contacts app will go further unused.
Locally, Siri uses deep learning to analyze a conversation and is able to pick up on you and a friend talking about food, a proposed time and resturant address, and then pre-fill in Calendar event when you go to add it to the Calendar app. “Look at that, it’s already halfway filled in,” you’ll say.
Rounding out the QuickType iOS 10 features is the ability to paste a recent address you looked up without having to copy it to the clipboard, do the same for movies and restaurants you’ve searched and adjust to your multilingual typing.
It’s Apple new “easy button” for iOS 10, and it’s all about shortcuts to everyday activities.
TechRadar’s take: Apple’s QuickType keyboard always gets a little better. It’s never been as smart as the one from Google, but the layout is ingrained in iPhone users brains, so the more improvements it sees, the better.
Photos with advanced computer vision
- iOS 10 automatically pieces together photo albums for you
- Creates mini-movies filled with video and photos, complete with titles
iOS 10 is going to make use of deep learning so that it’ll be easier to organize photos with what it calls “advanced computer vision.” This is how Apple plans to rival Google Photos.
Again, stressing that it’s done locally, Apple touts the Photos app’s ability to create albums based on face recognition, and can do the same for object and scene recognition thanks to 11 billion computations. It also serves up a way to see photos overlaid on a map based on where they were taken.
Apple plans to take Photos to the next level with Memories, which are supposed to remind you of events in life by clustering together photos into trips, people and topics. It seems to have a nice magazine-style interface I can get behind.
iOS 10 will also let you assemble your captured photos and videos of a particular memory with a special movie that’s cut automatically. It’s customizable, with a number of mood choices and three length options, just in case you don’t want to fine tune it yourself.
Despite the AI-infused deep search and facial recognition capabilities, Apple promises privacy protection.
TechRadar’s take: You’ll actually be inspired to look back at photos and videos when Apple’s Photos app puts them together automatically. It’s not perfect, but this feature has huge potential down the line.
Apple Maps is way better
- Look ahead to the next turn without springing back into place
- Free to pan, zoom and explore nearby points of interest
- Still can’t compete with the juggernaut that is Google Maps
iOS 10 fixes my biggest complaint about Apple Maps – its inability to scroll ahead on a route. Right now, Maps annoyingly springs you back to your current location whenever you try to look anywhere else.
You’ll be free to pan and zoom around the map with the new Apple Maps update and the navigation software is also dynamically zooming in and out of long stretches and complex interchanges.
Maps for iOS 10 is adding traffic on route to better compete with Google Maps and expanding its Nearby functionality with more points of interest that you can find along your route.
Vehicles that supports Apple CarPlay not only get suggested alternate routes based on traffic conditions, Maps’ turn-by-turn directions can pop up on the instrument (if they have a screen next to the odometer).
Apple is weaving iOS 10 information from other apps into Maps, like if it knows you go to work at a certain time, it’ll make a suggestion for the route, or make one based on a calendar event address.
That’s just the start. It’s also opening up Maps to third-party developers, so Uber riders can call, follow and pay for their ride without ever leaving Apple’s app. It’s getting there.
TechRadar’s take: Apple Maps will still get you lost at times. Sorry. But it’s now usable with fixes to the broken functionality that didn’t make any sense before. Seriously, you couldn’t look ahead on your route before. That’s fixed.
- Cleaner interface for APple’s paid music streaming service
- Lyrics for songs, and New tab replaces Browse
Apple Music with iOS 10 is being redesigned for its 15 million paid subscribers, and it “allows the music to be the hero,” according to Apple. It lets the cover art stand out.
It looks to be a much cleaner design, highlighting cover art properly and suggesting music that you’ll like in a more logical fashion. But it’s not going to excite you for iOS 10 if you’re not a paid subscriber.
The Apple Music refresh does add some more depth by way of lyrics (though it doesn’t seem to follow along with the words like other apps do, like SoundHound does).
The For You tab is does a better job at curating your personal playlists and it absorbs the Connect tab that we previously heard was getting a diminished role. Likewise, the ‘New’ tab has become ‘Browse.’
TechRadar’s take: The changes here are minimal, and you need to pay for Apple Music to get any use out of them. It still needs work to beat Spotify.
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions incorporated
- New ‘For You’ tab filled with personalized topics
- Breaking news notifications
Apple News is reaching 60 million people every month with 2,000 publications and it’s in for a redesign, too. The For You tab now breaks news into personalized topics and hand-picked stories by editors.
News for iOS 10 will also introduce subscriptions so that you can see every issue of National Geographic or read the Wall Street Journal, periodicals usually behind a paywall.
Breaking news notifications have been added to this pre-loaded app so that big stories appear right on the iOS 10 lockscreen.
TechRadar’s take: Apple News is a worthy Flipboard alternative. It’s biggest issue it’s tucked away in an app, with a small box in the Today menu for a few story snippets. That’s how we access Apple News 90% of the time, and this should have a much bigger, graphically rich presence, like Flipboard on Samsung devices.
- New app that ties together all of household devices
- Control lights, door locks, alarms and even blinds
- Siri and Control Center menu allow for quick access
Apple’s developer-focused HomeKit is coming to end-users with iOS 10 (and also Apple Watch), and the new app appears right on the homescreen unsurprisingly called “Home.”
It’ll tie all of your home-based IoT gadgets together into a simple interface and include Scenes to change the mood of rooms in a pinch, no matter who makes your home’s previously fragmented smart tech.
Siri acts as a shortcut to interact with your home accessories, and Control Center does too. Two swipes to the right in the Control Center menu brings up a grid of home accessory toggles.
Also from the lockscreen, you can peek at home notifications, say, if you get a doorbell alert. Peek into the notification by hard pressing on the bubble and a video doorbell like Ring will give you a live camera view.
TechRadar’s take: Home automation is a tough category. That’s because houses, apartments, condos, etc are all designed differently, and it’s hard for companies to make a one-size-fits-all gadget, like a smart door lock. That leads to a lot of options out there. Apple is at least doing its part by tying everything together, and whenever Apple gets into a new category, it instantly does better. Hopefully that’s the case here.
- Transcriptions now available in Visual Voicemail tab
- Could warn that incoming calls are ‘Possible Spam’
- Contact information shortcut could point to VoIP and WhatsApp
- It’s based on how you most frequently contact that user
Hate listening to voicemails? Never actually check them? Me too. That’s why I’m excited that the rumored voicemail transcription idea made it into iOS 10.
It’ll let you know what a voicemail message says via more convenient text right within the visual voicemail. Apple is also partnering with Tencent in China to alert iPhone owners there that an incoming call might be spam.
VoIP is no longer going to take a backseat, as a WhatsApp call, for example, can be answered right from the lockscreen, just like a normal incoming call. They’ll also be part of your recent and favorites lists.
TechRadar’s take: You’re probably still going to go to WhatsApps to call friends with WhatsApp, but the fact that the contact shortcuts can be switched out to other apps is a great sign that Apple is willing to let other developers be front-and-center within its native app space. More of this, please.
- Emojis are three times bigger and it’s easy to replace words with emojis
- Adds invisible ink, tapbacks, bubble effects, digital Ink and stickers
Messages is introducing rich links within a conversation and a live camera view as soon as you press the camera button. Like emoji’s? You’re going to love iOS 10.
Apple is making bigger emojis that are now three times as large as before, and the keyboard can now identify words you can easily replace with emojis via a single tap on each word.
Apple will include the 72 new emojis developed by the Unicode Consortium. They’re already in the company’s emoji style and Android Nougat uses them. Hop (kangaroo) to it, Apple (apple fruit) and Android (robot) fans.
Expressions don’t stop there. There’ll be bubble effects so you can “say it loud” with a bursting bunch of text, or say something “gently” with slow-to-exist texts.
You can also use “Invisible Ink” that requires the message receiver to slide their finger over a text or photo. It’ll either be a nice surprise, or horrific shock to your friends.
Apple showed off an Invisible Ink demo in which a blurry photo turned out to be a bride-to-be’s hand with a wedding ring on it. I’m pretty sure there are going to be a lot of appendages sent using Invisible Ink.
You can react to individual messages with expression-driven Tapbacks (reminds me of Facebook reactions) and write out meaningful messages with handwritten “digital ink.”
With club disco lights, big emoji and full-screen fireworks for iOS 10, Messages is one crazy app. But it’ll get even more insane in the future because Apple is opening up Messages to developers with an SDK.
So far, Apple has shown off integration for licensed Disney stickers, food ordering services and bitmoji-like expressions provided by JibJab.
TechRadar’s take: Messages is now ridiculous and fully competes with Facebook and its apps. That’s good and bad. There’s a lot to learn here, and it’s only going to be more enjoyable over time if you’re not scared off. iMessages is the best combined SMS and internet messages app out there, with Mac and iPad support for easy, cross-platform messaging. You’ll have to update your Mac to Sierra to get many of the effects, but it’s well worth it.
More to come from iOS 10
Rounding up iOS 10, Apple Notes can now have multiple users editing a document, the ability to edit Live Photos without annoyingly relegating them to stills, and see threaded emails in Mail.
On the iPad, Split View support for two Safari windows has been added, finally letting you open up dual Safari windows at once on your tablet, you multitasker, you.
Apple said that despite the deep learning capabilities of iOS 10, it’ll keep that to the silicon on your device and not invade your private data thanks to “differential privacy.”
We’ll have more feature explains since the full iOS 10 update is out. We’ll certainly discover additional features to talk about in the lead up to the eventual iOS 10.1 update and iOS 11 in 2017.