iOS 10 Preview: fun meets functionality in the biggest iOS update ever

It is not the kind of news you can easily miss – Apple announced a major new iOS version at the annual WWDC event. It is called iOS 10, as expected, and it is jam-packed with goodies, including a redesigned lock screen, a more engaging Messages app, a smarter Siri, and new 3D Touch actions. In all likeliness, the iOS 10 release date is set in September, when Apple is going to announce the iPhone 7, and for those feeling extra curious, a beta version of the new software will be made available in July for public testing.

Patience, however, is not something we have a lot of. Since waiting a month to get a taste of the upcoming release didn't feel like an option, we installed the iOS 10 developer preview on our iPhone 6s soon after it became available. This isn't something we'd advise anyone to do, unless they make apps for a living. The early iOS 10 release we're testing is still too rough around the edges – it is suitable for devs to adapt their apps for use on the new release, but not reliable enough to be a daily driver. Yet for now, this is the only way to get a first-hand impression of iOS 10, so let's dive into it and see what Apple's new software might impress us with. 

The lock screen, reimagined

Over the years, the iOS lock screen hasn't really changed much. Sure, we got a camera shortcut and rich notifications in earlier releases, but no redesign has been as major as what iOS 10 brings. And that's not necessarily a great thing, knowing that people are creatures of habit. For starters, the swipe to unlock gesture is now gone. Instead, you press the home button once to wake your device and then once again to get to your home screen. Killing a feature that has been a trademark of the OS since day one seems odd, to say the least, and its omission will upset many an iPhone user. Its sacrifice, however, must have been necessary to make room for lock screen widgets to be added, but more on the topic in a bit.

Speaking of the iOS lock screen, owners of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus surely know how fast their phone's fingerprint scanner is. It could be regarded as too fast in a way – pressing the home button unlocks the device instantly, not giving us a chance to peek at our lock screen notifications. To rectify this, iOS 10 wakes the screen of our iPhone 6s as soon as we physically lift the device up. This lets us catch up on notifications without having to press a single button. All in all, this is a neat addition to the lock screen experience, but we also think that it could have been executed better. In its current form, the feature lights the screen up only if we lift our iPhone vertically, as if to hold it in our hand. The screen rarely turns on if the handset is lying on a table and we tilt it sideways. 

It must be clarified that this lift-to-wake action works only on our iPhone 6s, while the iPhone 6 does not support the feature. However, we can still get our notifications at a glance, whether or not we've enabled fingerprint locking on the last-gen iPhone. Pressing the home button and lifting our finger will light the screen up, but won't unlock the device. Pressing the home button without lifting our thumb reads our fingerprint and unlocks the iPhone. Overall, it is a workaround we find reliable, despite this being just an early iOS 10 release. 

Another tweak we must highlight is the new camera shortcut. Sliding to the left from any point of the lock screen will instantly take us to the camera app, meaning that we don't have to aim for that tiny button in the corner anymore. On the downside, the swipe has to be really convincing for the shortcut to work. Its sensitivity might change in time for the official iOS 10 release, or course.

A new home for all your widgets

As we stated above, the swipe to unlock gesture has been removed in iOS 10. Instead, sliding a finger to the right on the lock screen takes us to a page with our widgets, arranged in a vertical list, with a quick search bar stuck permanently at the very top. The same swiping gesture also works on the iOS 10 home screen if you're looking at the first page of apps. Whether we like it or not, this is where widgets are meant to reside in the new iOS release. Meanwhile, the pull-down notifications panel is now just that – a panel with all your notifications and nothing more getting in the way. It's a change we don't mind, actually.

Still, we're not sure how to feel about the inclusion of widgets on the lock screen. It seems like an unnecessary complication – one that Android abandoned years ago. On the other hand, Android's implementation of lock screen widgets was never the most elegant one, while iOS 10's execution is simpler, therefore more promising. Folks who actually use iOS widgets might find it convenient to have them at a swipe's distance, but for now, we can't really say whether we like their addition or not.

3D Touch is more useful than ever

Apple gave the iPhone 6s 3D Touch to set it apart from the crowd, but didn't quite tap into the full potential of this admittedly innovative functionality. With iOS 10, however, our iPhone's force-sensing screen suddenly feels a lot more useful. That's not only because new shortcuts have been added to many of the stock apps – the Settings app now provides quick access to our Cellular Data controls, for instance, while the Phone app offers us to view recent calls or search for a particular contact. In iOS 10, 3D-touching an app will also display a widget, if available, which can be extremely convenient in many situations. To give a few examples, Phone lists our favorite contacts, Weather shows the current conditions, Activity displays how active we've been throughout the day, and Calendar gives us a glimpse at our agenda – all without the need to open any of these applications. This is practical innovation at its finest! Still, we can't overlook the fact that the new widgets panel, which we highlighted above, makes having widgets accessed by 3D Touch somewhat redundant.

Tidying up the Control Center

On the topic of 3D Touch, the feature is now baked into parts of Control Center. For example, hard-pressing on the flashlight offers three brightness settings, and the timer presents us with a few common duration presets. As for the panel itself, it has been reorganized and feels a bit less crowded as a result. Our music controls are now placed in their dedicated tab, with plenty of room for buttons, a progress bar, and album art to be shown. 



1. isayuuhhhj

Posts: 3; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Nice, features. Can't wait to try them on my 6S Plus. Although my Nexus 6P has had some of these for a while, especially picking up phone to see notifications, I'd like to see how Apple tackles them and if they have better solutions.

3. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

It honestly seems like iOS and stock Android are meeting in the middle now. Android will always be more open for the hardcore though. For the average user, it's basically coming down to looks and ecosystem.

39. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Maybe they're meeting in the middle on their design philosophies, but Apple seems to have completely dropped the ball on their execution. Consider the following as constructively as you can: iOS 7-9 CC + LS + Siri: iOS 10 CC + LS + Siri: The iOS 7 version looks 10x better than the iOS 10 version. Where the hell did all the rounded rectangle cards come from? There was no indication that that was even part of the design paradigm for iOS 7 style theme. It looks down right ugly because it pretty much disregards the whole transparency and layers thing they had going on, which admittedly was quite elegant. Even the Siri interface looks 10x better in pre iOS 10 because it seems to follow the design language. Now all of a sudden they liked cards so much that they had to shoehorn them into their design language. Yet instead of doing it in an elegant manner, they literally just copied the competition and messed up the whole uniformity of the OS. Then you have the whole "biggest update" thing based on features like exploding animations and fireworks which are so cringe worthy it baffles me that that got through quality control. It is like they just don't care anymore about substance. They de-cluttered in some places and added a psychotic amount of crap in other places to compensate. The new music app UI sucks so badly, there are 6+ different font sizes on the same screen space why? There's some in big bold letters, some in tiny transparent letters, some in color, some in thin they care anymore? Look at this crap: Why is there a floating card button to clear seperate from the original floating card notification? There is no need for that, the button can materialize in the card and there should not be a card in the first place. It should be a sectioned transparency that expands to the right with options like they intended it (which looked great as it was). So all this about them becoming more progressive seems to be at the cost of their entire design ethos. They've lost hardware design for years now and now software as well and until next year (seems they're crippling this year on purpose), we won't know if they'll actually recover.

2. Unordinary unregistered

This isn't even a big update, compared to previous iOS releases..

5. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 688; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

It is a big update. Apple is adding a lot of functionality. Some of the functionality is certainly more useful than other new features but ok. The only thing that is really missing is split screen and picture in picture for iPhone. I hoped that Apple wouldn't limit this feature to iPad and Macs.

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

A feature like that would be a big deal for the iPhone, and would be revealed in Septembers iPhone unveiling. That's one of my demands for buying a new iPhone. No split screen, and pic n pic, no purchase. When it works right (sometimes it doesn't), the 6S Plus is an absolute beast, only missing those 2 features. I see no need to ditch it for a new one, that doesn't have them either.

16. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 688; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Well, iPhone 6s is featuring 2GB of RAM already and usually software features presented with new iPhone presentation are tied to the new models. I don't think that Apple will make split screen and picture in picture available in September because if they wanted to, they could have already showed it yesterday for iPhone 6s.

22. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Or, it'll only be available to the new hardware, in which case it would be in September. We just gotta wait and see.

23. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 688; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

I guess we have no other option than waiting. I will wait until 2017 iPhone anyway before I upgrade. For me, it is just watching and observing in 2016.

28. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Pretty much for me too, unless Apple is throwing us a serious curveball. I'm am really curious about the Apple Watch 2 though.

40. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

They're not going to reveal anything like Multiwindow in September because that is the "hardware" reveal. Even the iOS 9 multiwindow was revealed at WWDC and they have to give their developers a heads up to adapt before release. So chances of them revealing it in a surprise are very low because it would cause of a lot of software issues last minute.

55. anglosaxonengland

Posts: 64; Member since: Sep 11, 2013

Tbh, split screen on a phone is a gimmick in itself.

12. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Exactly. iOS8 was the biggest update after iOS5, this one is just some gimmicky features added with no funcionality for developers extended. I still can't believe they were talking about emojis on a keynote that some people paid 1700$ to attend to They could finally open with 10th eddition, but no, Cook is proving once again he is a number guy

17. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 688; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

I agree on the emoticon stuff. But honestly, Apple demoed it on stage because of all the Asian guys watching. Emoticons are huge in Asia. Apple's presentation just showed how important Asia (China in particular) is for Apple. This was not for the Western hemisphere.

19. AlikMalix unregistered

Yeah underwhelming for me. The only things I liked were removing stock apps, more Siri and more forcetouch features. Everything else - if I wanted it - there are apps for all of that. I was not impressed by most of it, but on contrary, thought that iMessage ballons and confetti was too much, I like that control center added forcetouch capabilities (I often try it on icons in CC out of habit, but don't like that music player is another slide away from now on. I'm hoping that most of the "flamboyant" fun they added to iOS can be disabled, or vanilla android - here I come.

45. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I am staying on 9.3.2, it's stable as rock and jailbreak has to drop for it finally. iOS10 will be filled with bugs once again and it will be another 6 months before Apple fixes them. It's not worth, especially since there are no important under the hood improvements

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 31039; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

It's actually huge. Software wise, it's probably the biggest yet.

46. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I still don't think so, what huge change does it come with?

53. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

Exactly i think Apple may have reached there peak?? Just a bigger phone that's really it, a nice next big thing would be a few things i think apple would hit a grand slam home run win!!! 1- water resistance,,,2- more ram cpu speeds 4 to 5 ram,,,3- SD cards for extra memory,,,4- better ppi resolution screens,,,5- possible removable battery!! There's more but this will be a great starters, that's a great new iOS apple has the technology and the smarts and the $$$$ and I'd pay extra for a iPhone for that any day

4. Raito

Posts: 80; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

@isayuuhhhj : Good to see that some people doesnt always rant about "oohhh finally Apple catching up with Android!!,Android rulez!!blah blah"nonsense,lets see how many green crap worshipper (besides iCrap worshipper) will post about their super powerful smartphones,lol

6. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

So, you think that Apple is catching up

20. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

at least he know the truth :-/

7. twens

Posts: 1175; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

Sometimes the words phonearena use in describing issues concerning Apple is funny. See how they making it look all glorious and new. All this features are welcome but nothing extraordinary especially on other platforms. I have a feeling it's just going to slow down my 6s plus and force me to update or something. If indeed the update slows down my phone I'm just jumping to the note 7.

14. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 688; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Dude, iPhone 6s is obliterating every other smartphone on the market in terms of performance. Even iPhone 6 is offers higher write/read speeds than 2016 Android flagships. Apple is without competition when it comes to raw performance. Check out AnandTech's benchmark for prove.

21. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

iPhone can perform well because it's hardware and software features are so inferior. A 720p display, really? prepaid phone for $70 has that same resolution, it's doesn't have high performance cameras, doesn't have advance multitasking software, notifications, gestures, wireless charging, supporting themes, layouts etc. Just think how fast a note 5 will perform if it has such a low res display and such limited software capabilities.

24. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Sounds like denial and deflecting.

27. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Doesn't just "sound" more like "is". It's really pathetic how they list off these "features" they cling to so tightly, but have no idea how or what affects performance. None of what he mentioned had anything to do with OP's summary at all. As "savvy" as Android users fancy themselves, they know very little about their supposedly superior hardware :D.

38. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Obviously more feature affects lerormance...duh. that's why they make beefier hardware. Duh. Playing a high res game needs hardware that can perform. So if you throw some cheap.solution at it, you can expect weak performance But would you go out and spend $600 on a video card to watch youtube? I! Who cares what the Note features does to performance. It has more hardware and more features yet lasts longer than an iPhone. It's bigger yet smaller, it offers the top notch available hardware at its cost. I.domt see what the problem is. For what the iPhone 6S Plus costs it should be everything the Note is and it's not even 1/2. How many times do you touch your iPhone screen wild reading? I never have to touch mine to keep. Gosh enjoy your iPhone. More iPhone users know little about their inferior iPhone. See how that works. You don't actually have to know anything about it. All you need to if you want it or not. Most people who buy phones and computers don't know.anything about them beyond turning them on and doing simple things. Gosh you sound so dumb. You and your stupid peanut gallery.

41. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Well someone forgot to turn spell check on. You might want to learn to write a coherent sentence before insulting people lol.

59. ColinW

Posts: 412; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Like you are "savvy" saying a higher resolution screen does affect performance, the iPhone 6s has a pathetic screen resolution and its "raw" speed" benefits as a result. His point is correct, yours is coming from a "head that is stuck in the sand"

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