Yesterday the public beta for iOS 10 was released. You can download it here and check it out for yourself. A few things have struck me in the past 24 hours of using it. Here are things I like:
- The fact that you can only respond to lock screen notifications via 3D Touch has me excited. Heretofore, 3D Touch has been used in very lightweight ways, and a typical user could get through their day without using it. That’s now changed.
- Being able to see the lock screen wallpaper in its regular form even when notifications are present is great. No more darkened blurry effect. In the past I’ve often removed notifications from my lock screen just because this bothered me.
- Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the phone doesn’t instantly unlock when you press the home button. It’s still faster than it was with the iPhone 6, but not as fast as with the iPhone 6S and iOS 9. Unlocking too quickly was a huge pain point for people with the iPhone 6S because they couldn’t see their lock screen notifications. Apple’s done a good job of making it still fast if that’s what you’re wanting to do, but just barely slow enough that if you just touch the home button it won’t unlock.
- The new Messages app is amazing. Some of the new features seem childish but you don’t have to use them. The new interface has many small design improvements, and some big ones. My favorite one is the submit button. Instead of the word “send”, it’s now simply a blue circle with a white upward arrow in its center. The more you can move an interface to symbols instead of letters, the less you have to worry about i18n differences in word length affecting your pixel-perfect design.
- Panels are the future. Apple has created very distinct boundaries between visual entities by means of them in iOS 10. It’ll be interesting to see how this spills into the web because of Apple’s lead. Decisions like this on Apple’s part truly affect the choices that graphic designers make when designing their web comps.
- I know that deleting native apps isn’t a true deletion — it’s merely suppressing them from the home screen — but it’s psychologically liberating to know that my folder of unused apps has fewer than it did before. There are still some that cannot be deleted such as the Health app, but most of the nonessential ones are gone and it’s wonderful.
- Swiping from the right side of the phone’s lock screen to activate the camera is so much easier than swiping from the bottom left corner. Sometimes I snap photos on my bicycle and this is going to make it much safer.
- The new vibration type for toggling the phone to silent mode is an improvement.
- Cross-device features like global clipboard and Apple Pay for the web are things with iOS 10 implications that I’m really excited about, but they won’t be usable without Sierra. I simply can’t update my macOS to that version because I use my computer for work, and I can’t risk losing hours of time on beta desktop software.
Here are things I don’t like:
- Update 7-9-2016: It’s working now. What I was afraid was a feature turns out to be a bug. Swiping down on the home screen no longer brings up search. I hadn’t realized how much I have come to rely on this. A lot of the apps that I use 3-5 times per week aren’t on my home screen, and doing a quick downward swipe and tapping the opening 2-3 letters of the app name was an incredibly fast way to pull it up. Now I have to swipe to the left and swipe down in order to do the same. The left swipe is an extra gesture that doesn’t have to exist, especially considering that swiping down on the home screen does nothing now. The only reason I can figure that Apple disabled this feature was that too many people were accidentally swiping down. Seems a shame that we have to lose this feature though. I’m really hoping we get it back before the official release in September.
- The top section of message threads takes up a lot of precious real estate since it now shows both the avatar and the name of the recipient. Aligning the avatar to the left and the name to the right would save space compared with stacking them. It’s a change I would strongly recommend.
- I wish Apple would take wallpapers more seriously. We don’t have any new dynamic or live wallpapers (we’re stuck with a paltry 7 and 9 respectively) and there’s only one new still wallpaper. I’d like to see Apple preserve the most popular 3 wallpapers of each category and replace the remaining with new ones. It wouldn’t hurt to have a selection that’s 2 or 3 times the size, too. Finding good alternative wallpapers is a real hassle, especially if you’re a minimalist like me who deletes his entire photo library once a week.1
I’m sure other things will strike me as the days go on, but these are the big ones. Overall iOS 10 is a solid improvement. Unlike the iOS 9 beta, the battery life on the iOS 10 beta is not noticeably worse than its stable predecessor, so I will likely remain on beta until the new hardware is released in the fall.