iOS 10 Review: fun, fresh, more functional than ever

They call it the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It is also among the most popular, having shipped on over a billion phones and 300 million tablets since its debut. Over the years, more than 2 million applications have been developed for it, and the figure is set to rise further in the foreseeable future. We're talking about Apple's iOS, and its latest release is shaping up to be its biggest yet.

Now, this isn't the first time we take an in-depth look at iOS 10. The platform has been available - albeit in beta form - since June, and back then, we gave you a quick preview of what was coming our way. Today, however, we finally got our hands on a final iOS 10 build - the same software that iPhone users will receive over the air on September 13. And here's what we have to say about it.

The lock screen, reimagined

From the very moment you have it installed, iOS 10 feels... different. Familiar, yet different nonetheless, with quirks and tweaks we'll all have to get used to.

The lock screen, for instance, has been subjected to the biggest, boldest redesign in the platform's history. Surprisingly, there's no more “swipe to unlock”. Instead, you wake up the display, then press the home button to get to your home screen. Killing a feature that has been a trademark of the OS since day one seems odd at first, and its omission will disturb many an iPhone user. But the sacrifice was made for the sake of designing a more functional lock screen – a swipe to the right is now used for quick access to widgets. 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 as soon as we physically lift our iPhone 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. The screen lights up only if we lift our device 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 – while we have it charging, for example.

It must be clarified that this lift-to-wake action works only on our iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6 and older models do not support the feature, as it requires an M9 coprocessor or better. And if you don't like it, there's an option to toggle it off in Display settings.

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. The swipe has to be rather convincing, so it might not work for you from the first time, but you should get the hang of it quickly.

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. And who knows, the new widget panel might grow on us over time.

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.



3. ctdog4748

Posts: 797; Member since: Mar 05, 2016

Apple FTW, iPhone 7's starting to sell out, iOS 10 coming soon. It's an exciting time for us Apple users!

4. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

Why does articles on iPhone sound like a Apple sales advertisement and everything else is like meh in phone arena?

21. vampyren

Posts: 22; Member since: Apr 26, 2013

Not sure if i think iOS is more fun, sure these are nice but still iOS is way way to limited. After several iPhones i'm going to the dark side this time around. @phonearena: your comment field is broken somehow, using Safari (OSX) i can't click on the field to type, i have to tab through the whole page until it gets to the comment field. At this point i'm able to write here. If i click somewhere else again i can't type, i have to tab my way back to the field :( annoying as hell.

31. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I think it's because you have an ad blocker on.

72. yyzamin

Posts: 382; Member since: Aug 26, 2015

I did that and a few years back. Has made me really appreciate iOS.

23. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Okay, so the swipe to unlock is gone... Can't say I like it... And I also didn't like it when the removed the swipe up to open camera shortcut on the lock screen... So, I'm glad that now you can swipe right to open it (Still prefer the old gesture though)... Apple should've introduced an option to customize the lock screen... I mean, my 10 year old Nokia 3120C is more customizable with Active Standby, Navigation keys customizations and right button shortcuts...! It would be great if they allow WhatsApp and other IM clients to be integrated into the messages app...! Can't complain about anything else, really... G'Day!

28. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I liked the old lock screen more. Message hub in BB is a great app which I would like to see it copied in iOS (imagine, having all messaging apps in the same place on Mac and reacting without the need to pick up the phone or loose contact with workspace).

40. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

iOS is not really known for customizations... As Johny Ive said I am the designer... I got to decide what a user should like and what a user should do... I don't remember the exact words but this is what he meant... Talking about the Motorola X customizations...

46. AlikMalix unregistered

He never said what you just implied, and you know it. I don't like Johnny Ive, but what he said was, it's not a consumers job to design their phones - it's a designers job. He was referring to MoroX customizable back covers, which Moro dropped with new devices. I didn't agree with his ass comment toward MotoX customization - but he did not said or implied what you said!!!!

42. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

Bro i really appreciate you. You are still keeping that 10 year old nokia mobile with you. I cannot keep even a 10month old mobile with me.

67. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

If you have replied one of my previous comments about me using Nokia 1202... Yes, I do use it and it's a great device for calling. It is small and gives me more than 4 days of battery time. While it was launched more than 7 years ago. I got it a few months ago.

30. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

I'll be downloading this for my wife (she hates technology) and playing around with these features. I'll be sticking with my Note 5 for at least another year, but I can appreciate some of the features iOS 10 is bringing to the table. That being said, I'm really wanting to download Google's Allo. It looks very similar to Apple's Messaging app, but even better.

36. AlikMalix unregistered

Just curious, what makes Allo better than iMessage?

41. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

Perhaps he likes it more than the iMessage?

44. AlikMalix unregistered

I have no doubt that he does!!! But why?

59. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

They both look very similar but in my opinion, Allo looks more practical. I currently use Google Messenger and prefer it over hangouts, stock Samsung messenger, and Facebook messenger.

66. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

The phonearena comments system sucks big time... If you can't get it right why not implement diqus or livefyre? I don't understand who is replying to whome...

70. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

There is a "in response to #" right next to the date it was posted, BlackhawkFlys. Then just look up the post number.

74. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Because its cross-platform and works on both Android and iOS equally. Unlike iMessage that only works on iOS.

55. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

What about hangouts? The stock messaging app also. This is one area where iOS is better. Never could get everyone on the same page when using my Android. Like how some Androids going with the Google version of apps. But still a lot of clutter and those awful carrier apps. Verizon being the worst offender.

43. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

So you mean to say that iOS has no relation with technology. It is just designed by some random college guys and some random people like your wife who hates technology uses for the time pass. Come on buddy. You can do better than this.

32. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

guaranteed not to lag. i give it a 10 already

33. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

Eagerly waiting for iOS 010. I think by the time I learn all the features of ios10, the next update of ios11 will come out.

35. earn1sec

Posts: 23; Member since: Jul 19, 2016


37. darkkjedii

Posts: 31072; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

iOS 10 looks friggin awesome. I can't wait to get it on my 6S Plus.

48. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

If you're on Beta you have first dibs. I installed it this morning!

38. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

These new features covers a lot of jailbreak tweaks. Maybe no more jailbreaking?

47. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

Good one

50. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I actually haven't felt the need to jailbreak since I got the 6.

56. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

less functional than ever...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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