In Part I of Ten Year In, we talked about Steve Jobs’ iconic original iPhone announcement in January of 2007, and how it looks in the light of history. Ten years is a perfect time to look back at where it all started. Now let’s go from there up to the present. Where are we now, and how did we get here? Let’s take a look.
Widgets feel pretty dead on macOS, but theyâ€™re finding new life on iOS 10. Weâ€™ve had widgets on our iPhones for a little while now, but it was iOS 10 that empowered them to become mini versions of my favourite apps. Their evolution has been so gradual that Iâ€™ve forgotten to talk about them, until now. It always takes a few months after a major release to see how developers embrace new features, but here are a few widgets that Iâ€™ve really been enjoying.
I have to say, Iâ€™m really enjoying Apple Music this second time around. I find its UI much faster to use overall. What used to feel like navigating a labyrinth of music now just feels like managing a library of music â€” which is as it should be.
Iâ€™ve been using Apple Music for the past month or two, and I think Iâ€™ll stick with the service for the foreseeable future. One of the major reasons I liked Spotify so much was that it made it fun and easy to discover new music, but now that Apple Music shows related music under each song, I find myself adding several tracks per week to my library. Iâ€™ve also set both my iPhone and iPad to automatically download any new songs added to my library, so it really does feel seamless when I get home. I can put down the iPhone and start playing those new tracks from the iPad, without even having to stream anything (since the songs were already downloaded to the device in the background).
You may have already heard about iOS 10, its official launch is just a few days ahead. Apple unveiled iOS 10 beta version in its annual WWDC 2016 event so that interested iPhone/iPad users can check the new offerings of iOS 10 and may give their valuable feedback before the full public release of full version.
If you’re one of those interested users, youâ€™ll have to undergo the general public beta download and install it on your Apple device.
One of the big delightful features in iOS 10 is the automatic tagging and organizing of photos into Faces and Memories. Iâ€™ve been giving these features a workout over the past few betas, and I think Iâ€™ve had enough time to at least talk about Faces in iOS 10 beta 3 (a.k.a. Public Beta 2).
The way that iOS starts to recognize faces is when the device is plugged in and on Wi-Fi â€” for most people this will mean while the device is charging on the bedside table as you sleep. This gives the device a solid few hours to cast its magic on your photos and start to group photos together into like faces.
Youâ€™ll find all of these faces in an album called Faces (surprise!). But this isnâ€™t really like the albums youâ€™re used to on your iPhone. Unlike other albums on iOS, the only way to add new content to Faces is to use its special menus to select and approve people that iOS has recognized for you.
On the surface, Apple Music seems like such a promising service. Itâ€™s baked right into the music app I was already using, and because itâ€™s part of the OS, I donâ€™t need to wait for developers to integrate it with Siri. It already works. I tried Apple Music out for a good half a year, but decided to return to Spotify earlier this year.
One of the biggest reasons for doing so was how cavalier Apple was about replacing the album versions of my songs with the live versions from concerts. I really hated this, because I often vastly prefer the cleaner sound in album versions, and there was seemingly no way to get my old music back without quitting the service. However, I heard some good news from The Loop this week that this might be changing for the better, thanks to audio fingerprints.
Iâ€™ve wanted to use Apple Maps before, but it took a few years before it was really a practical option in the city of Toronto. The first few years, Appleâ€™s 3D view made the city look post-apocalyptic because it hadnâ€™t fully rendered all of the buildings yet. The gas station near my parentsâ€™ place looked like it was two blocks away from its actual location. However, Iâ€™ve always thought the biggest flaw of Apple Map was the way it handled Favorites (Iâ€™m spelling the word the American way because thatâ€™s also how Apple Maps does itâ€¦even in Canada).
I mark Favorites for two reasons: so I can easily identify awesome restaurants and useful businesses on the map, and for mapping out exciting places in a city Iâ€™m going to travel to. Iâ€™ve based this behaviour on years of Google Maps usage, where you can â€œSaveâ€ a location and have it show up as a yellow star on the map. These saved locations are always visible, and this makes a lot of sense to me. It makes the digital map a lot more personal â€” the cartographic equivalent of scribbling in the margins.
Third party keyboards were introduced as app extensions two years ago in iOS 8, and I was really excited by the prospect of getting to use long-standing Android keyboards like SwiftKey and Swype on iOS. Unfortunately, these other keyboards were nearly unusable when they launched. I think part of it was that developers were still getting used to how to develop input software for iOS, but the lionâ€™s share of the blame seemed to lie with iOS just handling this new kind of extension very badly.
Keyboards could very slow to load in different apps, and they would reliably crash as you switched between chats in iMessage â€” which just landed you back in the default iOS QuickType keyboard.
The lock screen on iOS has seen a pretty fundamental change in iOS 10. Although the changes carry over to the iPad, you really feel like the shift was centered around making things better for the iPhone.
You can now simply raise your iPhone up off the table, or bring it up from your pocket, and the screen will turn on. Just like the raise-to-wake on the Apple Watch, the iPhone can now watch and react to your intent with its motion sensors.
This means you wonâ€™t actually need to press the Home or the Power button if you just want to read your latest notification, though Iâ€™m finding the habit of pressing a hardware button difficult to break. But I do thinkÂ this new feature works very well in concert with the other major changes to the lock screen.