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iOS 10 gives apps room to grow

Michael deAgonia | Aug. 25, 2016
Apple’s mobile OS turns oft-used apps into mini-platforms

The revised Maps interface also moves the search bar and suggested destinations from the top of the display to the lower two-thirds of the screen, making it a little faster to begin a search, especially if you're using your iPhone with one hand.

Maps' proactive suggestions are also a bit smarter. For instance, the app will automatically record your location when leaving a parked car so you always know where you left it -- and one of the main selections next time Maps is opened will be a route to return to it. (No more taking a picture of your parking stall just to remind you where your car is.)

You can search for stops along your route, and Maps will automatically adjust the time of arrival at your destination based on your selections. And Maps is aware of future appointments, so if calendar entries have a location and are coming up soon, Maps will automatically suggest that meeting destination as an option.

Like Messages, Maps aims to be a one-stop solution; it's now open to third-party developers to extend its functionality. This means in iOS 10 it will let you book rides with ride-sharing services, make reservations at restaurants, and even send money to friends using third-party services without having to switch to another app.

As more developers jump in on the new Maps and Messages apps, switching between apps to carry out specific functions will be less necessary, creating a more streamlined experience for users.

Siri improvements

Apple's voice-activated assistant gets its own set of improvements, including new voice options under Settings, such as male or female voices with your choice of accents, from American to Australian to British. Siri is also much faster, letting you instantly start dictating once the Home button is pressed and held; before, you needed to wait for an audible cue as it activated before speaking. Another useful feature: when dictating, Siri shows you other translation options, in case the transcript of your request isn't accurate.

siri lyft

Siri can do even more in iOS 10, including hailing a ride service.

However, the biggest improvement is one that will become increasingly popular and increasingly important over time: third party developers now have access to Siri. I can't stress how potentially important this is. Over time, Apple has steadily boosted Siri's capabilities; by opening up the app to third parties -- in essence, making it another platform-within-a-platform - the company is allowing Siri's capabilities to grow without being limited to Apple's update schedule.

No doubt, when iOS 10 arrives, initial third-party app support for Siri will be limited to certain Apple partners. But as developers spend more time developing software for iOS 10-specific features, Siri should gain a huge boost in productivity.


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