Apple started rolling out the iOS 10 public beta, or second version of the developer preview, late last week. After a bit of contemplation I have decided to take the plunge and upgrade the iPhone 6s Plus to the latest version of the Apple mobile OS.
Over the next few days I will chronicle my experience with iOS 10. Below we look at the latest addition in iMessage, Contacts, and Notifications.
My phone had over 50GB of data, and hadn’t been backed up after a point — my iCloud is on the free 5GB limit. So after I decided to upgrade, the first thing I had to do was a backup. As suggested by some experts, I chose to opt for the encrypted backup, this way it’s easier to recover the phone if things go wrong.
The entire beta download process on Apple is smooth and very easy to understand. Go to the page, download the profile and restart your phone. Then you will start seeing the new update in your software updates tab.
On my 8Mbps Wifi connection the 1.7GB download took close to an hour. The installation that followed lasted nearly 15 minutes.
The phone sprung back to life with my Slack and Whatsapp notifications buzzing on the lock screen. My data and apps were all untouched. I was happy.
The first thing that hit me was the lock screen and notifications screen. This seems to be Apple’s answer to Google Now. Everything you need to know is here from weather to calendar and news. It’s all very easy to navigate and comprehend. The search bar is on top and the only thing missing are the Siri apps. For that, we might have wait till Fall, when the full release is rolled out.
Notifications come wherever you are, as a card that can be easily dismissed or acted on. You can pull down the notifications like before, but the cards are better sorted now.
One of the first new features I ended up using was in the clock app. There is now a Bedtime tab that sort of decides when you should sleep and sends you an alert before this time. It does this based on the time you want to wake up and the expected hours of sleep. If only life what was simple.
For me the most anticipated feature was the new iMessage app. It is pure shock and awe given that the old app was basic. Now, it is the best of messaging across all third-party apps and has some cutting edge stuff on top of it.
The first new thing I tried was sharing a song with someone else on a iPhone. It went through, though the person could not reply in kind.
The App Store will give you lot of fun stuff to play with in messages, but it has limited options now.
The scribble and sketch option is what I suggest will end up being used a lot. With some practice, you can write a full message like this and pray the person on the other side understands.
The full impact of this on messaging behaviour will take some time to gauge, but it’s sure a start and one that will give some sleepless nights to third party apps like Whatsapp.
Notification, too much?
Before I write about what else I like, let me tell you about something that’s irritating me. The notifications coming on top of your screen can be irritating when you are doing something like watching a video or reading a story on the phone. I have notifications on for at least three twitter handles given the nature of my job. This means something pops up every minute and it’s now almost impossible to concentrate on something else. You will need to manage this better.
However, the notifications can now be acted upon easily using 3D Touch. Retweet and like buttons on tweets are much bigger than before.
The contacts app now has a better look and feel as well as icons that lets you make a call or text someone faster than before. Overall, the interface has become easier on the eye and involves lesser reading.
Every time there is an upgrade on iOS, users are worried their battery life will be compromised. I was worried too, as the iPhone 6s Plus I am using already needs a recharge just before end of day, thanks to the power sapping networks — or should I say lack of networks — in India.
However, over the past week, I have not noticed any significant drop in battery life. In fact, on a couple of days I felt it has last more than it does normally. But that was most probably because of other factors. Anyway, at least with the Public Beta so far, battery does not seem to a big issue.
The look and feel of the mail app has changed. The most significant aspect is the card layout being used for mails in a thread. They are easy to sort through and navigate. You can just click a card to expand.
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