iOS updates aren't as exciting as they used to be, so the best stuff is often the little features that slip through the keynote cracks but make your iPhone or iPad work much better. Case in point, some of the hidden stuff in early iOS 10 betas is way more exciting than what Apple actually announced this week. Image by Sam Woolley.
Before we get into this, we should note that iOS 10 is currently in beta, so some of these features may not make it into the final release. That release is set for sometime this spring. But the developer beta is available now, and the public beta is coming sometime in July.
You Can Finally Remove Unwanted Stock Apps
Since the App Store was initially launched in iOS 2, people have been asking for the ability to delete Apple's stock apps. Now, you can. (Sort of.) When you long-press an app icon, you can now remove most of the stock apps from the home screen. This includes:
- Find My Friends
- iCloud Drive
- iTunes Store
- Voice Memos
- Watch app
This doesn't actually delete the apps though. It just removes the hooks, user data and the icon from your homescreen. So, if you delete the Maps app, when someone sends you a location in Messages, it won't work. There's currently no way to set a different app, say Google Maps, as a default app, so when you delete an app it breaks when another app attempts to link to it. To get an app back, just head to the App Store, search for the app in question and tap the cloud link to bring it back to your homescreen.
It's not the perfect solution people have asked for, but it is a great way to get rid of garbage apps that aren't deeply hooked into the system, like Tips, Stocks, Videos, the Watch app and whatever else is probably sitting in the "Apple Junk" folder on the third page of your home screen.
You Can Set Read Receipts on a Per-Conversation Basis
In any conversation thread in Messages, you can now choose to send (or not send) read receipts. This is great if you want some closer friends know that you saw a message but don't want read receipts for every single person. Just tap the "i" icon in the top-right of a conversation, then tap the toggle next to "Send Read Receipts".
Maps Automatically Remembers Where You Parked
There are countless apps that will tell you where you parked in the App Store, but if you're OK with using Apple Maps (which looks much nicer now), they're now useless. Use Apple Maps to navigate somewhere, park your car and the app sends you a notification, then drops a pin saying where you parked. When it's time to head back to your car, its location will pop up in Apple Maps as a "recommended destination".
Slide to Unlock Is Gone
The "Slide to Unlock" prompt that's been a part of iOS since the beginning is now gone. Now, to unlock your device, you press the home button. If Touch ID is set up, it automatically unlocks your phone with your fingerprint. If not, pressing the home button brings up the passcode entry screen.
You can still swipe on the screen though. When you do, it will bring up the Widget screen, which is essentially the Today screen from the current Notification Center.
The New 'Wake Alarm' Helps You Improve Your Sleep Routine
This is one of the weirder updates here. On top of the normal alarm clock we're all used to, there's now a "Wake Alarm" setting. You start by setting up how much sleep you want to get, and when you want to wake up. On top of an alarm in the morning to wake you up, you'll also get an alarm when it's time to go to bed.
It's a pretty silly thing, but if you're an adult who needs an alarm for your bed time (and honestly, we're all busy enough that some of us might), now you have one. If you do use this feature, you'll get a new sleep analysis function that shows how much sleep you're getting each night, so you can make sure you're actually adhering to the schedule you set for yourself.
You Can Free Space By Automatically Deleting Music You Haven't Listened to In a While
If you have a ton of music on your phone, you know the the pain of clearing out storage when there's an system or app update you need to download. Now, there's a setting to automatically delete music you haven't listened to recently. In Settings > Music > Optimise Storage you'll find a toggle to set up "minimum storage" for music. Pick a storage level (1GB-8GB), and iOS 10 will delete old songs to keep you under that limit. A lot of podcast apps have a similar feature, so if you've used one of those, you'll be right at home here.
There's a Dedicated Unsubscribe Button in Mail
Like Gmail, Outlook and other modern email apps, Apple Mail now has a dedicated unsubscribe button for the newsletters you get. As long as Mail can identify it as a newsletter, you'll have the option to unsubscribe without clicking a link or setting up a filter. Just open up a newsletter in Mail, tap the unsubscribe button and you'll never get that obnoxious email again.
The Torch Intensity Is Adjustable (and More 3D Touch Options in Control Center)
This is a small, silly, little thing that I personally am excited about. You can now adjust the intensity of the torch with a hard-press of the icon in Control Center. You can choose between three options — low, medium and high. This is one of those weirdly useful little things that will be handier than you'd think. Beyond that, the other apps in Control Center also now get custom 3D Touch options, which means you do things like can set a timer quickly, or open up to a specific setting on your device's camera.
The Game Center App Is Gone, but the Game Center Service Is Still Alive
Game Center, the app that lets you see all your mobile game high scores, achievements and a friend list, is gone in iOS 10. Game Center is still sort of accessible in the Settings though. This suggests that Game Center's getting demoted to a service, which is likely what most people use it for. You'll still have your user ID and you can still use it to play games online and connect with friends. Yet, for now, the app itself, and the achievements and challenges that come with it, are gone.
Opening the Camera App No Longer Pauses Music
One of the weirdly annoying features in previous versions of iOS was how opening up the camera app automatically paused any music you were listening to. It no longer does that for still photos (it still does when you want to record video, but that makes sense). This annoyed the heck out of me in iOS 9, so I'm glad it's gone.
You Get a Warning When You Connect to an Unsecure Network
When you connect to a Wi-Fi network with terrible security, you'll get an alert saying so. This includes obvious stuff like open networks, but also seems to pop up at other times, like when a network uses older protocols like WEP. The Wi-Fi screen also now tells you if the network is local only and isn't connected to the internet, or if the connection is weak.
It's these little features that end up making iOS a joy to use. We'll keep an eye on them as they come and go in the various versions of the betas, and there will certainly be more secrets to uncover in the final version of iOS 10.