I’m usually slow to embrace technology updates. When Apple rolled out the extensive changes of iOS 7 in fall of 2013, I waited as long as I could before I updated my iPhone. I’m quite comfortable with the way my phone looks and operates; I’m reluctant to sacrifice this comfort for the sake of improved functionality. Thus I acted entirely out of character when I downloaded iOS 10 as soon as it was made available. It was only after I was faced with a new operating system that I remembered I didn’t much want a new operating system. Now that I have it, I figured I might as well embrace it and share my findings so no one else finds herself adrift in a sea of superfluous functions.
Press Home to Unlock
Unlike on past iOS versions, the iPhone wakes up when it senses movement. You can still wake your phone by pressing the home button but you can also wake it just by picking it up.
Apple has done away with the ‘slide to unlock’ function. In its place is ‘press home to unlock,’ wherein the user presses home to unlock the phone and inputs a passcode. You can get around this feature if you activate Touch ID for iPhone Unlock, then choose the Rest Finger to Open option. (General > Accessibility > Home Button > Rest Finger to Open) Then entering your phone is as easy as picking it up and pressing home.
While I should be in support of Touch ID for the speed with which it enables me to unlock my phone, I prefer to use the passcode to slow down the process. That way I’m less likely to check Instagram for a twenty-fifth time or read a click bait article on Snapchat.
Sliding the home screen to the right now reveals a panel of widgets. The widget panel is accessible when the phone is locked and unlocked, from a slide down menu and a slide over page. Given that I’m still trying to slide to unlock, I have brought up the right swipe widget page enough times that I presently loathe it.
The widget panel offers at a glance information from apps of your choice. This way, you don’t have to open four different apps to check your calendar, your to do list, the weather and the sports scores. I anticipate that I’ll appreciate the convenience of information aggregation when NBA is back in season and when I have multiple meetings or appointments in a day. For now, all I’m seeing on my widget page is news on the Vancouver housing crisis and Tony Parker’s off season training.
Message banners are wider with curved edges. For no logical reason, I find this disconcerting.
A topic of greater consequence than my dislike of grey rectangles is the changes made to Messages. The new updates include:
- a blank pad, on which you can hand write messages
- a series of text images that look like handwritten messages
- a Digital Touch pad, from which you can send sketches, taps or the weird fireball you see above
- a series of visual effects you can send along with your texts
- a searchable GIF and video database, which includes the Donald Trump GIF also seen above
The ability to send sketches and short, handwritten messages is kind of cool. It adds a personal element to messaging, especially because the delivered message reenacts the writing process. I think ordinary text messages are sufficiently personal, but perhaps animated messages in my own shitty handwriting will take my friendships to the next level. The pre-written messages are for those with illegible writing or those who prefer to send tasteful store bought cards. Personally, I like to subject my friends to illegible writing and low grade artwork.
Why you would send a fireball instead of a text message, I cannot understand. I think it will only take a few updates before sending digital kisses becomes as passé as sending an e-card. Just because we have the technology to send e-cards doesn’t mean we need to send them. My mother described the digital heartbreak as “quite dramatic.” I see it as the perfect image to send your ex-lover to remind him or her that you are, in fact, too weird to date. If sending Digital Touches becomes the next communication breakthrough, I’ll declare us a doomed civilization.
With the ‘Send with effect’ function, you can send text bubbles with a slam effect (slam), in a larger format (loud), in a smaller format (gentle) or in tap-to-reveal invisible ink. More exciting than the bubble effects are the screen effects. You can send messages with the addition of full screen balloons, confetti, lasers, fireworks or a shooting star. The catch seems to be that the effects are only visible to those who have also upgraded to iOS 10.
The searchable GIF function in Messages is very similar to Facebook Messenger’s searchable GIF function. Anyone who has messaged me recently on Facebook should know that I love them but hate Messenger. I must be among the minority as someone who dislikes Facebook Messenger because Apple has added a few other comparable features. A message that consist solely of emojis is sent in a larger form without a surrounding text bubble, in the same way that it is sent on Facebook Messenger. This new format places far more emphasis than I intend on my emoji of choice. 💃🏼 Apple has added increased functions to Messages so they can take on as many of their direct and indirect competitors as possible. Apple has also added increased functions to appeal to a subset of a generation who use BuzzFeed as their browser homepage and communicate largely in memes.
The previous emoji update allowed users to choose skin tones on all of the emoji people. On iOS 10 Apple has added male and female variations for emoji, all of which are available in five skin tones plus gold. The sassy lady in pink now wears purple to reduce the gender-colour stereotype. She is displayed alongside a man in blue with the two figures in twin poses. You can now choose male or female police officers, construction workers, runners and weightlifters. All of these updates they made in response to accusations of sexism on the part of the original designers. Previously, the male emojis were depicted as athletes and professionals, while the female emojis were focused on appearance — the woman getting her hair cut — or traditionally female roles within a patriarchal society — the bride or the queen. All of the emoji additions were made in the name of political correctness, to reduce stereotypes and to make emojis more inclusive. Other new additions include the Pride flag and a water gun in place of the hand gun. Removing the hand gun is a case of political correctness gone awry: we won’t solve gun problems by pretending — even symbolically — that guns don’t exist. On a personal level, I’m unconcerned by the removal of the hand gun because the knife is my emoji weapon of choice. 🔪
You can now write a message and click on the emoji keyboard for automatic replacement options. The replacement process goes as follows:
The emoji-available words are automatically highlighted. Press the word to make your emoji selection.
This is the result of tapping to replace words with emojis. It may not make for the most articulate message but it does add some visual interest.
Apple, with its business model of planned obsolescence, will eventually make it so you have to download iOS 10 or allow your iPhone or iPad to become a relic. Eventually I will have to embrace iOS 10 as an unavoidable step in the technological march of progress. On the upside, I don’t have to adapt to the new iPhone 7. I have a 6s now and given the frequency with which I flip my technology, I won’t be due for an update until at least the iPhone 9. By then, the average smart phone might be capable of processing more than 2016’s most advanced computers. Alternatively, social and environmental decline might necessitate a return to Morse code. I’m no Apple pundit. I’m just speculating.
Song of the Day: 2 Phones by Kevin Gates