App suggestions in iOS 10: how they work, what's changed, how to disable them


Apple is no stranger to introducing small tweaks and rearrangements whenever it updates its phone operating system — iOS. It's often the case that an already existing feature will be slightly updated, its settings might change placement or options, and all that without too much fanfare from Apple.

That said, users that have updated to iOS 10 may have noticed that the suggested app feature that pops out on your lock screen or recent apps screen works a bit differently. Namely, it's hard to get rid of it, if you happen to find it annoying, and hard to get to work, as there's no user-controlled "trigger" for it.

First things first: how do app suggestions work?

If you happen to have a set routine, where you always open an exact app around a specific time of the day, or when you reach an exact location, iOS will pick up on that and it will start "suggesting" that app, placing shortcuts to it throughout its interface. The app's icon will now appear on the lower-left corner of your lock screen, so that you will be able to quickly launch it by swiping up from the icon. Also, the app switcher screen (double-tap home) will have a banner on its very bottom, greeting you and providing a shortcut to the suggested app.

As you can see in the screenshot to the right, iOS 10 greets us with a "Good morning" and offers us the Photos app. Why? Probably because we spend a lot of time comparing cameras and looking at photos from different phones here at the office, so this iPhone in particular believes that it's camera comparison time again.

This behavior can also be seen if you always use a piece of hardware in conjunction with a specific app. For example, I use a Line 6 Sonic Port VX audio interface for my iPad Air 2, and every time I plug it in, I immediately launch an app called BeatMaker 2. iOS remembers that and the banner under the Recent Apps menu reads "Line 6 Sonic Port connected" followed by a link to BeatMaker 2.

Last, but not least, if you have two or more Apple devices (includes any modern iOS device or a Mac PC), and are using the Handoff feature (start doing something on one machine, pick it up on the other), the suggested app icon will usually change appropriately, letting you know that you can continue writing that email draft or reading that website on your iPhone.

I don't get suggested apps on my phone, how can I enable them?

All the requirements for suggested apps to work are turned on by default, the iPhone just needs some time to figure out what you want to do with it in different scenarios. However, if you don't have some sort of hard-set routine, you may end up never seeing that suggested app icon on the lock screen.

Yes, unfortunately, there is no way to manually trigger the behavior, and you can't force the iPhone to display your favorite app in the Suggested App fields. It's all automatic. That said, check the next section if you want to know which options need to be enabled for Suggested Apps to work.

I want to disable suggested apps. How do I do that on iOS 10?

Enabling / disabling app suggestions was a piece of cake on iOS 9 — there was a clearly visible option for it in Settings -> iTunes & App Store. However, the toggle has now mysteriously disappeared. The feature is currently tied to the Siri App Suggestions widget.

So, if you want to get rid of that Suggested App icon / banner, just go to your widgets screen (go left on the lock screen, home screen, or notifications shade — either one will work), tap the edit button found at the bottom, and remove Siri App Suggestions widget.

Alternatively, if you want to turn it back on, you need to enable the widget. Also, to make sure you are getting the best possible results, make sure location-based suggestions are also turned on. This option can be found in Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services.

So, there you have it. Which side of the fence are you on — do you prefer to keep App Suggestions off, or are you desperately looking for a way to make your iPhone suggest you your favorite app on its lock screen?

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