Even though Apple’s latest mobile OS was launched more than two months ago, I felt no need to update or try it out. Previous updates used to have many changes and improvements to talk and be excited about, but this one felt particularly unimportant. I don’t use Siri or Apple Maps, two of the main apps reportedly improved in iOS 10. iMessage also received much hyped changes in the form of flashy, utterly unnecessary stickers and gimmicky invisible text, but it’s another app I rarely use because, well, cross-platform apps are more convenient. As a photographer, I was interested in the ability to save RAW images from the camera – alas, Apple decided to keep that feature exclusive to its newer phones (6s and above I think) – in an effort to encourage the slow replacement cycle I’m sure.
I ended up upgrading last night and was immediately disappointed and annoyed by two changes. First of all the unlocking experience: swiping is gone, but now the iPhone requires you push the Home button in addition to validating your fingerprint with TouchID. If you simply rest a finger on the button, like before, the device reads your fingerprint, displays a tiny message in the top status bar: ‘Unlocked’ – and that’s it! You’re stuck on the lock screen, even though the device is unlocked, until you press the Home button… one of the stupidest design decisions I ever saw. I unlock the device dozens of time a day, why would I want an extra step each and every time?! Fortunately this can be easily changed in the settings: under General > Accessibility > Home Button, toggle ‘Rest Finger to Open’ to On.
The other change is not so easily fixed though: notifications. The new style looks very heavy and distracting; I much preferred the more subtle look with white text on a darker background. Each notification bubble is larger because of the rounded corners and the name of the originating app, so they take up more space and you can parse fewer notifications at once. But the worst change is that Apple removed the option to group notifications by app and to decide which should have priority in the notification center – now everything is sorted by most recent. Good luck finding a missed message or email in a deluge of noise from all the other apps on your phone! If Apple doesn’t reverse this decision, the only solution I see in the long run is to cut down aggressively on notifications, which means less interaction with apps, which means less revenue on Apple’s platform – good job, Apple!
There are other annoyances and changes, but not as impactful. The only good thing so far is that the Weather app was tweaked to fix one of my earlier complaints dating back to iOS 7, the poor labeling of degrees versus hours. A neutral new feature is ‘Bedtime’ which aims to regulate your sleep patterns better, comes with some custom alarms for waking up and is feeding the data to the Health app. Among the bad things, I noticed that the Podcasts app is pausing playback every 10 minutes or so despite being set to continuous playback – I’m assuming it’s a bug, but given how badly neglected the app is I imagine I will have to live with it at least until the next major OS update. Also Settings, despite having a search field since the previous version (as far as I remember), is still unable to locate some entries, for example you get results for ‘Home button’, but not for ‘Rest’ or ‘Finger’… Overall I wish I haven’t updated from iOS 9 at all…