The iPhone Lock Screen on iOS 10

iOS 10 lock screen 1

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 won’t actually need to press the Home or the Power button if you just want to read your latest notification, though I’m finding the habit of pressing a hardware button difficult to break. But I do think this new feature works very well in concert with the other major changes to the lock screen.

iOS 10 lock screen 3

Home to Unlock

There is no more slide to unlock in iOS 10 — you’ll now need to press on the Home button in order to get past the lock screen. I think this is an improvement, since it was too easy to accidentally bypass the lock screen on iOS 9, especially if you had an iPhone 6S (with the faster TouchID sensor).

Because you don’t swipe on notifications any more, you’re now supposed to use 3D touch (and probably long presses on iPhones 6 and older) to expand on them. These rich notifications expand and snap to the top of the screen while open. This is a little confusing at first, because although you are still presented with options to reply or dismiss, it’s no longer clear to how launch an app from the notification itself. This used to be a simple right swipe on the notification itself, but in iOS 10 you now have to tap on the actual app icon.

My initial impression is that this makes these lock screen notifications a little harder to deal with, since the tap target has gotten smaller, and it’s now at the top of the screen. It would be easier to just tap on any part of the notification banner after pressing on it.

Swipe Left for Camera

I liked it when iOS added camera access to the lock screen, but I hated how it was implemented in previous versions. You had to grab a small camera handle in the bottom-right of the screen and swipe up. If you didn’t grab the camera handle exactly right, you didn’t up doing anything. Or, if you didn’t swipe far enough, the camera would almost launch, then the lock screen would fall back down into place.

iOS 10 simplifies this process a lot: all you do now is swipe left and the camera launches. This makes the camera a lot easier to launch, and supports a wider variety of iPhone grips. If you usually pick up an iPhone with your thumb near the top of the screen, you can now launch the camera. If your thumb usually hovers around the middle of the screen and you have trouble reaching the bottom-right corner, you’ll also love this change.

What’s more: the camera launches faster in iOS 10, and taking a photo no longer auto-pauses your music (which was a really stupid design change in iOS 9).

iOS 10 lock screen 2

Swipe Right for Widgets

Stop me if you’ve heard of this from another mobile operating system: in iOS 10 you can now have widgets right on your lock screen. Yes, some of the goodness of Android style widgets has come to the iPhone (and iPad), and it’s actually pretty cool! Most of my widgets from iOS 9 are broken right now because they don’t support the new expandable widget style of iOS 10, but others like Carrot Weather, Batteries, and Calendar are working properly .

The new widget style will take some getting used to because it’s not nearly as subtle as the iOS 7 through 9 designs. Apple really has been taking their own “Big. Bold. Beautiful.” directive very seriously. These widgets on the lock screen are the same ones you’ll see in Notification Center, so you probably won’t want to go hog wild and host a widget festival. These widgets act a lot like iOS 10 notification banners, so tapping on the app icons will launch their respective apps. This didn’t strike me until recently, but this could also be a great way to launch apps from your lock screen (provided the app has a widget).

Those are all of the major changes to the lock screen in iOS 10. It’s looking like a pretty feature-complete experience right now, and a great preview of what’s to come. I’m really excited to see what other widgets might come out for iPhone apps, and I really dig the new camera launcher. I’m happy that Apple found another way to expand on 3D Touch, but I do hope they make notifications a little easier to act on over the course of the beta.

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