When will iOS 10 be released in the UK? What are iOS 10's best new features, and in what ways has it been redesigned? What are the differences between iOS 10 and iOS 9? And is it possible to install iOS 10 right now?
iOS 10, Apple's latest mobile operating system software for iPad & iPhone, was announced at the company's WWDC 2016 get-together in San Francisco on 13 June 2016. Read on for our detailed analysis of its 10 best new features and everything else you need to know about iOS 10, from the iPads and iPhones that can run iOS 10 to the best way to install it right now.
iOS 10 release date rumours: How to get iOS 10 now - Public Beta out now and iOS 10 beta 3
iOS 10 became available to non-developers in the form of a Public Beta on 7 July, which means even non-developers can download the preview version of the software now ahead of its final release later in the year. But bear in mind that it still won't be officially finished, and there are likely to be bugs and compatibility issues with some apps. If that doesn't concern you, find out more about downloading iOS 10's public beta here.
On 19 July, Apple released beta 3, which adds a few new tweaks to the mobile operating platform.
The developer preview beta version of iOS is also available, but you'll need a developer account to get it. If you're keen, read more here: How to get iOS 10 on your iPhone/iPad now. (If you change your mind afterwards, see How to remove iOS 10 and reinstall iOS 9.
Typically, Apple announces its new iteration of iOS every June at its WWDC event in the US, with the final release date scheduled to coincide with the launch of new iPhones in the following September: this year, we'd expect iOS 10 to be made available for consumers at some point in September 2016, days before the (as yet unannounced) iPhone 7 is released.
This three/four-month gap between the announcement and its release gives developers a chance to squash any bugs and add any new features to their third-party iOS apps, in time for general release.
iOS 10 release date rumours: Which iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices can run iOS 10?
iOS 10 will be released as a free upgrade for the following devices:
- iPad 4 and later (ie, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (9.7in and 12.9in)
- iPad mini 2 and later (iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4)
- iPod touch 6th generation
- iPhone 5 and later (iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE)
iOS 10 release date and new features: podcast discussion
iOS 10 release date rumours: New features
At its WWDC unveiling, Apple focused on 10 new, redesigned or tweaked areas of iOS 10's feature set:
1. General redesign and user experience
Apple says it has "redesigned the experience of the lock screen". But before we get to that, there's a new feature that will mean you'll see more of the lock screen.
At the moment, particularly with the faster second-gen Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, there's a tendency to hit the Home button and blast straight to the Home screen, But Apple has unveiled Raise to Wake, which makes the iPhone light up, and go to the Home screen, when you just lift it up. One of several features where we'll see the influence of the Apple Watch on the iOS ecosystem, incidentally.
Onscreen notifications have become more interactive. There are now lots of 3D Touch shortcuts that let you respond to notifications in clever ways without leaving the lock screen, and plenty of dynamic features that can happen in the notification itself.
You can accept invitations, respond to messages, and stay in a messages thread, live, all on the lock screen. You can see live animated progress of your Uber driver after 3D Touching an Uber notification. And - exactly like on the Apple Watch - you can do 3D Touch press and then clear all notifications. That's a handy one, that.
Control Centre has been redesigned. We didn't see much of it in detail, but it looks like it's either customisable or varies in look depending on the context. At any rate it has multiple screens, so if you swipe from the right you get to a special music section. More generally, you can swipe from the right in the lock screen to bring up the camera. That'll be less fiddly than the small icon you had to swipe upwards in iOS 9. You can also swipe from the left to get a list of customisable widgets.
'Slide to Unlock' has been removed, and instead you'll see 'Press home to open'. Doing so will prompt you to enter your passcode or will unlock the phone if you use Touch ID.
The biggest change to Siri (other than the fact that it's launching on Mac! See our macOS Sierra update for that) seems to be that Apple is opening it up to 3rd-party developers. This means that you'll be able to activate non-Apple apps and functions via voice control.
As an example, Craig Federighi explained that you can now ask Siri things like "Send a WeChat to X" (or, using natural language, "WeChat Nancy that I'll be five minutes late" and so on). There will be Siri support in Slack, WhatsApp, Uber, Lyft, Shutterfly, Pinterest, Map My Run, RunKeeper and lots more apps.
On 19 July Apple added 'App Support' within Siri's settings.
Apple is "bringing Siri intelligence to the keyboard". Which mainly manifests itself in the use of artificial intelligence and context cues to offer more suitable and relevant suggestions when typing. QuickType is pretty handy and a genuine time-saver at the moment, but remains unsophisticated. If it's half as good in iOS 9 as the demos suggested, it's about to get a lot better at predicting what you want to say.
What's more, QuickType is going to become more proactive at bringing in data from other apps and offering it as part of your responses. If someone asks where you are, it will offer your location as a suggested response; if someone asks for a person's email address and iOS thinks it knows who that is, it will suggest the relevant contact details.
There will be support for multilingual typing - in other words, not in just one language or another, but in a blend of the two. You won't have to switch keyboards to do this, Apple said, although they didn't offer details. Will you have to tell iOS that you want it to make suggestions in English and Spanish, say, but not French or Italian? Or will it learn your preferences on the fly? We really hope it's the latter.
Like QuickType, Photos has been given an injection of artifical intelligence. Apple says it will use deep learning techniques to analyse faces, places and objects - the company boasted, if we didn't mishear, that 11 billion computations are made per photo - and use its findings to build smart albums for you.
Photos can draw together linked photos and videos by place, people and time, and automatically create highlight reels and trip mementoes; Apple calls this 'Memories'. It demonstrated a good-looking photo/video album created from a holiday, where individual videos had been cut to include the most relevant bits of footage. Federighi was then able to adjust some sliders and see it remade with a different mood and length. All very impressive on stage, but we'll obviously need to test this for ourselves.
Maps gets a new design in iOS 10; like some of the other apps that have been revamped for this update, it looked broadly simpler and cleaner. Apple says the controls are easier to access.
Maps now does more in advance, with the proactive elements we've seen before in iOS coming to the fore. Slide upwards from the bottom of Maps and you get suggested destinations. If you normally go to work at this time, then your workplace will be on there. Another location may be drawn from a calendar appointment for this time.
You can sub-filter when searching for nearby businesses. Fitter for restaurants; then filter for seafood restaurants.
Like Google Maps, Apple Maps in iOS 10 takes traffic into account dynamically, and offers alternative routes on the fly if traffic makes them preferable. Unlike Google Maps (we think), its interface will zoom in and out cleverly, depending on the distance to the next turning and other factors.
And, like many of the other features here, Apple is opening Maps up to developers. (Openness is a theme tonight.) This means you'll be able to book a ride with Uber and pay for the ride using Apple Pay, all without leaving Maps.
Read next: Apple Maps vs Google Maps
As we expected, Apple Music has had a major visual redesign - and to be fair, it looks good. It also gets onscreen lyrics for some songs, although you may have to wait for the lyrics for your favourite song to be added.
Better still, whilst taking Live Photos, your music will continue playing - allowing you to have uninterrupted music sessions.
We really like the look of Apple Music 2.0, and we've discussed it in far more detail in a separate article: Complete guide to Apple Music's new features.
On 19 July, Apple replaced the 'Downloads' section with 'Downloaded Music' within the Music app.
Quick one, this: Apple News has been redesigned - like the other apps here, it becomes cleaner and simpler. But more interestingly, Apple has added subscriptions in News. (More and more this is becoming the app that Apple wanted Newsstand to be.)
Now there is also a 'Breaking news' notifications from the app. You can toggle the feature from the app's settings and even custom-tune the publications you wish to see push notifications to your device.
You can access paid subscriptions, where you can read an unlimited amount of articles from various publications. There is also a widget for the News app, but given that it's still in beta expect it to be a little rough around the edges and only provide basic functionalities.
8. HomeKit & new Home app
And now a bigger one. Apple is getting serious about smart homes and the internet of things, launching a dedicated app, Home, for controlling all the appliances that are compatible with HomeKit.
If you open up Home, you'll see all your HomeKit-compatible accessories, no matter which company makes them, and you can easily control them all from one hub. Many of these will have 3D Touch shortcuts: you can force-tap and slide on a dimmer app, for instance, to adjust light levels.
There are some really nice features in Home. One is called Scenes, which is effectively a pre-customised set of adjustments across a range of accessories that you can activate with a single tap or Siri command.
In the demonstration, the user is getting ready for bed and taps a button in Home labelled 'Goodnight'. This invokes an entire raft of smart-home instructions: it locks the door, adjusts the thermostat, draws the curtains and so on. Similarly, there could be a 'Good morning Siri' command that gets your home ready for the day.
Home will be built into iOS's Control Centre, and Home notifications will be interactive - Apple demonstrated a door notification that can be 3D Touched, bringing up a live feed of the door camera and the ability to unlock the door.
On 19 July, Apple organised the 'Accessories' option found within the Control Panel of the HomeKit app.
The all-important but often neglected Phone app gets a single big enhancement: voicemail transcription. iOS will convert speech into text so you can glance through a voicemail without having to listen to it. Will be great if it's accurate enough (and remember that it doesn't need to be that accurate, since you're just trying to get the gist; if it's clearly important, you can just listen to the message).
One other update: Apple has pledged to work with third parties to provide more information about known voicemail spammers, so you can be warned when one is ringing.
And to finish up, a huge (if often slightly silly) update for what Apple pointed out is the most frequently used app in iOS. There are lots of small updates here, many of them clearly aimed at a young audience.
You'll be able to use rich links in Messages. Share a link and, as it would in Slack or Twitter, artwork and a precis of the article may be pulled in, so your friends can get an idea of the gist without having to click.
Emoji will be three times the size, and emoji will be incorporated into predictive text: bad news for those who are sick of all the emoji in messages they get from iPhone-owning mates. In fact it goes even further: Messages can scan a message you're about to send and highlight all the words that could be replaced with emoji. Tap them one by one and they'll transform into the appropriate pictures.
You'll be able to add various bubble effects to your messages, too.
You can make a message (including pictures, if you wish) come up in 'invisible ink', which means it's blurred out until the recipient swipes across it with a finger. This is designed for situations when you want to surprise someone with a nice message and want to delay the moment of gratification for a little longer. We'd hope that iPhone owners won't use this for dumping their other halves.
Other effects include 'Slam', which makes the speech bubble briefly bulge outwards dramatically, and others that make the text initially smaller than normal.
Wait, there's more. You can send handwritten messages; you can use Digital Touch and send your heartbeat (another nod to watchOS). You can use full-screen visual effects on your messages, so that the entire screen lights up with a garish laser show if that's what you want. It's all a bit much for us oldies but, to quote Marty McFly, your kids are going to love it.
Also see: How to use Messages in iOS 10.
Other features: Delete preinstalled apps
Apple didn't mention this in the keynote presentation for obvious reasons - it doesn't want to highlight the fact that users have been crying out for the ability to delete its apps. But they have been crying out for that, and for the ability to get back the storage space they were taking up. (Although Apple stresses that they don't take up much space anyway: "all of them together use less than 150MB".)
It's a huge relief that in iOS 10, you'll be able to ditch many of Apple's preinstalled apps from your iPhone or iPad, but it's worth pointing out that the apps aren't really "deleted" in the strict sense; all that happens is the app icon is hidden, links to functions like Siri are temporarily severed, and user data associated with the app is deleted. But the app itself remains on your system, albeit hidden from your view.
Amusingly, if you want to bring back the app after deleting it, iOS forces you to go through the charade of visiting the App Store, finding the app and 'redownloading it' - but really this could have been accomplished by just flicking a toggle switching in Settings. Apple does it this way in order to keep the user experience consistent.
We explain how to delete (or perhaps we should say, as Apple does, "remove") preinstalled apps in iOS 10 - and some workarounds that let you do roughly the same thing in iOS 9 and earlier - in a separate article: How to delete Stocks, Maps and other preinstalled apps on iPhone or iPad.
Other features: Apple Maps in iOS 10 remembers where you parked your car
If you happen to have a car with CarPlay you'll be pleased to know that iOS 10 now remembers where you've left your car. First discovered by 9to5Mac, Apple Maps now knows when you disconnect your iOS device with your phone from the car's Bluetooth.
The phone will remember where you last parked the car and give you directions back to it, so if you are often forgetful the new added feature is a nice addition. You can also edit the location of the parked car with an updated location and even add more context to the dropped pin, by adding the level/parking lot number.
Other features: RAW images in iOS 10
If you've got an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE or 9.7-inch iPad Pro, there's good news: you're going to get the option to take RAW images, meaning captured images will offer a lot more level of detail for those wanting to professionally edit the photos. The RAW images will be bigger in file size, of course, so there are down sides.
The RAW images functionality will only be available through the rear-facing camera and you won't be able to use image stabilisation.
Other new features
You'll now be able to enable or disable the read receipts that were introduced back in iOS 7 on an individual basis. Currently you can only universally change it, but now you'll be able to change it per contact or group.
There are very slight changes to the app and folder animations, which make the folders in your app drawer zoom in from the centre of the screen, rather than the folder's location on your screen.
Live Photos now feature image stabilisation, which will hopefully help make the images a little clearer.
The default Clock app now has a Wake Alarm and Bedtime feature. As well as waking you up, you can choose to be reminded when it's time to go to sleep in order for you to get your desired hours of rest.
Like macOS Sierra and its storage optimisation option, iOS 10 can be instructed to automatically remove files from your device that haven't been used in a long time, such as songs you rarely play.
Game Center is no more, and has been completely removed from the default stock apps - this is the result of apparently less than 1% of people actually using it. There are
The Safari app has also received some love, with the mobile browser now having the ability to open unlimited tabs, whereas in iOS 9 you could only open 36 tabs. Speaking about tabs, you can now close all tabs, rather than individually going through each tab and closing it - a useful feature for those who tend to leave many tabs open at once. To do this in the new iOS 10, tap and hold on the new Tab button within Safari and you'll be presented to close all your Tabs at once.
Within Safari, you can also play in-line videos without having to watch the video in fullscreen mode. This simple functionality allows you to continue reading the given article, whilst having a video play in the background.
You can now clear all of your notifications within the Notification Center, allowing you to quickly clear those Instagram likes...or messages.
3D Touch can be used to rename folders, control downloads and have Siri suggest recommended apps.
With tvOS, you can now use the new Apple TV Remote app, to control your Apple TV.
Updated 19 July 2016: On 5 July 2016, Apple released its iOS 10 update, beta 2 and on 19 July it released beta 3, where the changes were orientated around fixes over new features. The update is currently now available to everyone who signs up to the beta program.
Here's a list of best new features present in the iOS 10 beta 2 and beta 3:
The iMessage App has received an update with new animated stickers. Classic Mac, hands, hearts and smileys are the four new sticker packs freely available to download. We're sure there will be even more packs available in the future, especially from third-party companies.
Speaking of messages, you're now able to send low quality images through the Messages app, which lets you conserve data.
You can now 3D Touch Quick Action items. This makes using the Quick Actions within your Control Centre a lot faster and easier. For example, you can now change the Flashlight's intensity with three separate levels of brightness - very handy!
Widgets can now work in a larger format. Previously certain apps, such as the calculator or calendar apps wouldn't display properly due to widget limitations. Now with larger widgets, these apps work a lot better in a widget-format.
As Slide to Unlock has disappeared in iOS 10, Apple has provided the option to simply rest your finger on the screen to unlock it. You can find the 'Rest Finger to Unlock' option within the Accessibility settings.
Folders are no longer transparent. With the first iOS 10 Beta came transparent folders. Apple has since gone back on its choice to make it transparent and reverted to a glassy look.
Apple have yet again brought back the iOS keyboard sounds from beta 1. After having removed them and reverted them back to the default iOS 9 sounds, Apple has decided to return back to its beta 1 inclusion.
A feedback app has been added, allowing you to report crashes and bugs to Apple. We're not sure if the app will be present after iOS 10 comes out of beta, but it's in there now!
Widgets in the Notification Centre are now accessible through the Home Screen. Previously, you were only able to see widgets through the 'Today' section. That's now a thing of the past, as you're now able to view it in both sections.
There is now haptic feedback on a manual lock, making it easier to distinguish when the screen is locked. This enables users to better know when the screen is locked.
It has recently been discovered by EverythingApplePro that when a lightning port with moisture is connected to the iPhone 6s, a warning is displayed. The warning suggests you disconnect your iPhone from the lightning port to prevent any water damage for occurring. We cannot confirm on what other phones this feature will work on, but we presume it will be newer generation iOS devices, such as the 6s and 6s Plus.
It was widely expected that iOS 10 would feature a new viewing mode called Dark Mode, with black backgrounds more suitable and restful for nighttime viewing. In the event, Apple announced exactly that, but for tvOS instead, and iOS Dark Mode remains missing in action.
Oddly enough, one of the principal planks supporting pre-launch Dark Mode speculation has shifted, too.
Several Apple fans noticed that, if you asked Siri in iOS 9.3.2 to turn on Dark Mode, it responded by saying "Sorry, but I'm not able to change that setting." That setting - suggesting that the setting existed or soon would, but Siri could not yet control it.
(Generally speaking, if you ask Siri to do something that it can't, it will either say that it doesn't understand, or run an internet search of your phrase. For some other modes we invented, ranging from "Privacy Mode" to "High-Speed Mode", Siri got confused and turned on something that it seemed to think was close enough. But we couldn't get him to say "I'm not able to change that setting" for any fictional setting other than "Dark Mode".)
In the developer preview of iOS 10, however, the instruction to "turn on Dark Mode" gets a different response: "I can't find that scene." Siri now associates Dark Mode with the Home app, and assumes it must be a Scene - a preconfigured group of settings for various smart-home appliances, obviously including in this case the lights - that it hasn't been properly briefed about. The plot thickens.
Nevertheless, we expect iOS Dark Mode to appear before long. Andy Wiik, an app developer who previously released screenshots of Messages running in Dark Mode, has now posted images of the Settings app in Dark Mode that he obtained by using the iOS 10 Simulator.
Picture credit: Andy Wiik
Wiik postulates that Dark Mode will be controlled by a toggle button in Control Centre, and supports this theory with another screenshot from iOS 10 Simulator, this time showing a sixth, blank button to the right of the lock rotation switch.
The idea of Dark Mode is a sort of extension of Night Shift, but instead of simply warming up the colour output of the screen after sundown in order to reduce disruption to the human circadian cycle and loss of sleep, it proposes a radical, system-wide interface redesign for nighttime. Instead of basing the interface around the colour white, it would be based around black - a much easier colour scheme to see and use at night, as evidenced by the strategy already being used by many satnav interfaces, as well as some Apple apps.
"An iOS Dark Mode would be modelled after what Apple has already done with the Apple Watch app for iPhone and dark themes in iBooks," explains Federico Viticci, who featured Dark Mode in his iOS 10 concept video, made with the design Sam Beckett. Viticci cites benefits of such a mode including increased contrast, higher legibility and improved accessibility for those with limited vision.
Dark Mode concept designs
Here's how Viticci envisions Dark Mode. We think it's a terrific, and well-executed, concept.
Picture credit: Federico Viticci/Sam Beckett
iHelp BR has also shared concept images on how the dark theme could look like. Below is an image from iHelp BR showcasing how the settings menu could look like. With WWDC just around the corner, these latest rumours could make their way to all iOS 10-compatible devices soon.
WWDC 2016: Podcast - WWDC report
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast dissects the announcements of WWDC, including iOS 10, in its 19th episode. We've embedded the audio below in case you'd like to hear what the team have to say. The WWDC section starts at the 26:30 point.
A new episode of the UK Tech Weekly Podcast comes out every Friday. Follow the show on Twitter for links to the latest episodes.
Macworld poll: Will you update to iOS 10?
Are you convinced by the new features we've discussed in this article? Let us know if you'e planning to install the new OS by taking part in our poll:
For more details about all the announcements at WWDC 2016, head to our dedicated WWDC roundup page.
That's it for now, but if you'd like to read the predictions we made ahead of the launch and see how we got on, turn to the second page of this article.