Apple announces iOS 10 during WWDC keynote

Raise to wake, deeper AI, overhauled services, more

During the WWDC keynote, Apple showed off some new features in iOS 10, expected later this year, including a redesigned lockscreen experience and greatly-expanded use of 3D Touch, announced developer access to Siri (to thunderous applause) alongside greatly expanded Siri abilities and artificial intelligence that enhances both Siri's ability for vocal queries, but helpfully offer better texting suggestions -- like a map in response to a question about your location as an option -- or more intelligent scheduling.

Apple also introduced a new design language throughout iOS apps including Music, Photos, and News, which unifies some of the options and controls across the apps. Another major development from the developer perspective is the opening of many APIs for control of an incorporation into technologies such as Siri, Photos, Maps, Phone, and Messages. Apple's 3D Touch technology will be greatly expanded, ironically introduced to solve a problem Apple introduced with the iPhone 6s ... the dramatically faster Touch ID means that users often unlock the iPhone too quickly to read notifications.

In iOS 10, notifications can respond to 3D Touch to respond to notifications entirely from the lockscreen. The lockscreen also gains a dedicated music-control pane, as well as new slide controls (left to access camera, right to access widgets). In addition, apps will have more options for incorporating 3D Touch. Siri has also been given greatly expanded abilities, such as incorporating third-party apps (for example, you can ask siri to send a Slack message, or WeChat message, by mentioning the brand of third-party message app.

Siri and QuickType have gained considerable artificial intelligence (which is locally processed for privacy) to offer better suggestions in QuickType, and more intelligent scheduling or understanding the context (in an example, Siri understood the difference between a band playing in a stadium versus kids playing in a park). Likewise, Photos has a better ability to use facial recognition and place information to collate automatic albums gathering photos with the same people or same place (or both).

Photos and Maps gain developer access that works both ways: photos and maps can be accessed from within third-party applications, and the native Apple apps gain "extensions" that bring in other apps' abilities. In a demo, Eddy Cue showed off being able to look at a map in Maps that listed restaurants via Yelp (an existing ability), narrow it down to seafood places, make a reservation using OpenTable, call an Uber Car, and pay for it using Apple Pay -- all without leaving Maps.

Music and News were shown to receive unified design overhauls that include new styles, but more importantly similar functionality to increase familiarity. Bowing partially to user complaints, Apple relocated the local music library to the first tab of the Music app, and made it clearer which music files are locally stored. Cue mentioned that Apple Music saw a total of 15 million paid subscribers in its first year -- fewer than rivals such as Spotify or Pandora still, but gaining rapidly.

Again responding to user feedback, the "now playing" screen is much larger and more easily accessible through out the OS, and includes lyrics where available. Likewise, the News app now has more intelligent "For You" recommendations based on what you have read and liked, offers optional breaking news notifications, and will now allow subscriptions to be honored, offering all that content for users who subscribe directly within the app, or able to subscribe to magazines through the app.

Apple also revealed its long-awaited "Home" app and control center panel for controlling HomeKit devices. Craig Federighi demonstrated the basics of HomeKit smart-device use and concepts such as "scenes" (a chain of commands to different devices tied to a single scenario, such as a "geofence" of arriving home or a Siri command of "good night" that locks doors, shades windows, turns off lights, and sets alarms). As was mentioned a few times throughout the presentation, with a larger disclaimer at the end, the Home app and HomeKit is entirely end-to-end encrypted. It was also mentioned that the Apple TV could, as previously reported, serve as a remote hub to receive commands when users were not on the local network.

Messages received the single largest and most visual overhaul, with new rich links, inline video in links, 3x bigger emoji, and a variety of animations, "stickers," backgrounds and other options to "jazz up" messages between iMessage users (none of the enhancements were seen to work with SMS, which has its own conventions and limits). Facebook users in particular will find many of the new abilities, such as the option of simply adding a "heart" or "thumbs up" to an incoming status, very familiar. The ability to add "handwritten" fonts that animate like writing, emoji substitutions for written-out words, emoji suggestions, simple sketching, photo and video decoration, and other "gussied up" additions to messages were seen alongside some genuinely useful functions such as sharing Apple Music links or easy access to recent photos to send quickly.

Federighi also mentioned some new abilities for the Phone application in iOS 10, including better integration with VOIP services (like Skype) to make incoming calls on those service look and act more like normal phone calls, and contact cards can remember how certain people are best contacted (for example Slack's new ability for team members to call each other). The option of warnings from carriers about possible spam phone numbers (demonstrated for China, where it is a major problem, but applicable to the US if carriers wish to offer it) was shown, and Apple's partnership with Cisco was mentioned to show how enterprise users could effectively add a second "work" line to an iPhone through Cisco's Spark team-communication technology.

A few other items were mentioned in passing, including Notes collaboration abilities, stabilization and editing abilities for Live Photos, and Split View in Safari for iPad. At the end of the presentation, Federighi took a moment to emphasize again the privacy built into the new features and throughout the OS, including a lack of user profiling for web searches, on-device AI processing (which hints at a significant uptick in processing power for the next Apple processor, presumably known as the A10 chip), end-to-end encryption -- and where trends and usage data needs to be gathered, the employment of a relatively new technique called "differential privacy" that uses various techniques to ensure anonymizing of gathered data.

The developer preview of iOS 10 is out today, and as with OS X there will be a public beta in July, with the final release shipping in the fall as a free update for a very wide array of older and current iPads and iPhones going back to the iPad 4 and iPhone 5. The macOS Sierra (formerly to have been known as OS X 10.12) will go back to the 2009 (plastic) MacBook and iMac, but requires 2010 and newer for all other Mac models.


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