Apple found a way to make the iPhone exciting again
The iPhone is boring.”
That’s been the refrain for years. Apple launches a new iPhone or version of iOS and, sure enough, the tech pundits gleefully pile on with tongue clicks and eye rolls. It’s happened over and over and over again.
Those criticisms usually lean on what Apple’s rivals are up to, so it’s easy to feel like Apple is slipping when Google, Facebook, and Amazon are launching VR headsets, virtual assistants living inside WiFi speakers, and AI-powered chatbots.
But Apple is brilliant about squeezing every last bit of potential out of the iPhone with iOS updates, and iOS 10 is the most significant and robust update I’ve seen in years.
Apple talked about a bunch of changes coming to iOS 10 this fall, but four really stuck out to me.
The latest doomsday scenario for Apple is that artificial intelligence and voice control becomes a dominant new platform and rivals like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa continue to blow Siri away.
That’s a long way off thanks to the newest update to Siri, which lets app developers integrate their services. Soon, you won’t even need to open an app to accomplish a lot of things. Need an Uber? Ask Siri. Want to send a message in WeChat? Ask Siri. You get the idea.
Until now, Siri was locked down and limited to the handful of outside services Apple chose. But with iOS 10, Siri will finally be able to live up to its original potential and fundamentally change the way you use your iPhone.
When Google released its amazing new photo app last year, I gave up on Apple Photos immediately. But with iOS 10, Apple has totally caught up.
Photos can now analyze faces, group photos together into collages and movies, and let you search for photos by object. (Search “dog” and see all your puppy photos, for example.) Yes, these are all features Google Photos users have had for over a year, but now it’s accessible natively on your iPhone. It’s the biggest update to Apple Photos ever.
The iPhone home screen has always been static and boring. One of the biggest advantages Android has had over the iPhone was the inclusion of widgets, which gave you information from your favorite apps at a glance, without having to launch an app.
iOS 10 has a fresh take on widgets using 3D Touch. A firm press on an app icon now brings up rich information like sports scores, social updates, and even videos. It took nine years, but the iPhone home screen has finally matured and become useful.
iMessage got more attention than anything else during the WWDC keynote Monday. It’s getting more new features than any other app that comes with your iPhone.
That’s for a good reason too. iMessage is one of the top services that keeps users locked into iOS, but it’s felt largely ignored over the years. Send a text. Send a video. Send a photo. That’s about it.
With iOS 10, developers can now integrate their apps into iMessage. (Apple used the food delivery service Doordash as an example.) There are also several new ways to send iMessages, from adding cute stickers, to better emoji search, to animations and doodles, to changing the background of your chat window to reflect your mood.
All of those new iMessage features are building out the closest thing Apple has to its own social network. A lot of the changes may seem too cute or gimmicky, but as we’ve learned from apps like Snapchat, they’re the kinds of features that keep people coming back.