Initial Thoughts on iOS 10

Every year, when Apple releases their newest version of iOS to the public, I’ve typically already spent a few weeks or months with it on my main device. That was the case with almost every major iteration, until iOS 10. Whether I acquired it by nefarious means, signed up for the developer program, or sent my UDID number to a friend, I’ve always been able to get a hold of it. This year was a little different.

I installed iOS 10 on my iPad during the public beta, but it didn’t last long. Even though this was one of the best beta periods I’ve experienced from a stability standpoint, I’ve come to realize that my standards of acceptability are much higher than they’ve ever been. Now that my iPad and iPhone are my primary computers, I can’t put up with the little software bugs anymore.

In years past I could always switch to my Mac when something wasn’t working right, but that was during a time when all of my workflows were decidedly Mac-centric. Now, if something didn’t work on my iPad, I’d be left trying to piece together how I used to do it on my MacBook — often realizing that this task didn’t exist until my post-iOS era and I’ve never done it on a Mac before. iOS has become too essential for me to run beta builds. I just can’t risk anything breaking anymore.

The public beta only lasted a few days on my iPad — I reverted to iOS 9 at the first opportunity. That was a month or two ago, though, and Apple has spent their time polishing the rough edges. The public beta was good, but the final build is superb.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any complaints, though. There’s still a small number of annoyances that remain. However, iOS 10 is an incredibly well built operating system and has quickly become my favorite OS upgrade of all time. As of this writing, I only have it installed on my iPhone, but I expect to have it on my iPad and my wife’s iPhone within the next couple of days.

I’m not going to be writing a detailed review of the update — if you’re looking for that, I suggest reading Nick Heer or Federico Viticci’s. Instead, I’ll be sharing a handful of my notes, taken in the first few hours after updating.

  • It’s going to take a little time to get used to the new lock screen behavior. I’m fully prepared to be called a maniac for this, but I’ve never enabled Touch ID or a passcode. I’ve been happy enough continuing to use the “slide to unlock” gesture. Because of this, I expect I’ll accidentally swipe to my widgets instead of unlocking my iPhone on numerous occasions over the coming weeks.
  • The quicker animations for launching and closing apps is quite jarring. It makes my eyes feel weird.
  • iMessage Apps are going to be incredibly popular, but I don’t expect I’ll install many of them. I’m a bit of a minimalist and iOS’s built-in images app will get me most of what I want. I might buy a couple sticker packs, but that’s about it.
  • Games in iMessages are surprisingly great. I spent about an hour playing a connect four clone and a battleship clone with my brother-in-law. It was fun. I think I’ll be playing games like this more often in the future.
  • I like the new design of the system-wide application back buttons. They have more heft and are much more inviting to use.
  • The Music app is much better than it was in iOS 9, but I wish I could set artists as a tab along the bottom. I don’t need search and I don’t need Radio. If I had my way, the tabs along the bottom would be: recently added, artists, playlists, and more.
  • I love the Force Touch shortcut for clearing all notifications.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly view Today View widgets with an app open. You can slide from the top and swipe to the left, but iOS doesn’t remember which pane you viewed last — unlike Control Center. That puts an extra step between me and my widgets. I routinely use Fantastical’s widget to check the date, PCalc’s widget for quick calculations, and Workflow’s widget for launching workflows. With iOS 10, widgets are significantly less convenient for me.
  • It’s a little odd that you can “uninstall” default apps now. I don’t plan on going crazy with it, I don’t have much of a problem simply hiding these apps deep within a folder. But of course, I had no problem immediately deleting Tips and Stocks.