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Until Project Titan develops into an actual Apple Car and hits the road, Apple will award “the best iPhone experience on four wheels” title to its CarPlay infotainment feature which it says offers “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car.” Available on a growing number of vehicles from select manufacturers, CarPlay lets you connect your iPhone to your car for using Siri and an on-screen interface optimized to let you safely access apps while driving.

CarPlay relies on intelligence from your iPhone, using car hardware like microphones and built-in displays for input, so annual iOS updates mean the feature can learn some new tricks just like your iPhone and iPad. So what’s new with CarPlay in iOS 9 and how has the feature changed since my initial review a year ago? Let’s take a look:

Looking at the home screen launcher, there are a couple new icons in CarPlay on iOS 9 compared to CarPlay a year ago. Since we last looked at CarPlay closely, iBooks added Audio Books playback for those purchased through iTunes.

The Apple Music subscription service launched in June with iOS 8.4 and replaced the pinkish-orange and white icon with a mostly white and multicolor version. CarPlay did pick up the new icon then but hasn’t gained much of the music service’s features. That’s still mostly the case with iOS 9, although there are a few notable differences.

You won’t find the For You or New sections from Apple Music on CarPlay yet, but Apple’s free Beats 1 live radio station is featured up top in Radio and you can favorite and unfavorite songs with the redesigned Now Playing screen to let Apple Music know more about your taste.

You can also playback both streaming and local songs from My Music including Apple Music playlists, although Music in CarPlay is still organized like the old Music app on iPhone which means yes, Bono’s singing silhouette still graces the Artists button for now. What has changed is the Now Playing screen. Album art appears behind a transparent mask rather than a dark gradient that fades to black. Text buttons for repeat and shuffle have also been replaced with wire icons keeping with iOS 9 design.

The built-in Podcasts app also sports a new icon, improved interface, and redesigned Now Playing screen. Apple has changed how it handles podcasts over the years. Playback was first included in the iPod app on iOS, then moved to its own Podcasts app on the App Store, only to be built-in again with iOS 8. Just like with the Music app on iOS 8.4, Apple delivered a major overhaul of its Podcasts app on iOS 9 and CarPlay benefits.

Navigating the app is now easier with unplayed episodes easier to access with fewer taps. You can also access what you’re playing much easier in the hierarchy with a new pause and resume option. Podcast playback pauses for audio interruptions like navigation guidance so you don’t have to rewind to hear what Siri interrupted. And even if you use a third-party podcast app, the top charts spot makes it easy to quickly find something to play when you run out of episodes of your regular podcast client.

The first of only three things mentioned in the release notes, CarPlay in iOS 9 now supports playing back voice recordings sent over iMessage:

Plays back audio messages, letting you hear from people in their own voices

You still can’t send audio messages, however, which would take out all the guess-work with Siri-powered speech-to-text. Apple Watch, on the other hand, by default allows you to dictate iMessages as either speech-to-text or an audio message. I’ve previously made the case for Apple Watch being a better driving companion than CarPlay, and I’ll be revisiting that thought soon with watchOS 2 in mind.

As I mentioned in my initial review last year, I would prefer to send audio messages to my iMessage contacts by default when using CarPlay. While that’s not even an option yet, playing back audio messages is a start. The only catch is that you only get one play; tapping Read Again tells you there is an attachment but can’t replay it.

CarPlay benefits from iOS 9’s new features in Reminders too. iOS 9 adds “Getting in the car” and “Getting out of the car” as triggers for location-based reminders. These alert you when connecting to or disconnecting from “any paired car” which means supported Bluetooth systems or CarPlay. I’m a frequent CarPlay user and rely on Reminders to keep my head straight, so I really appreciate this new feature.

In addition to adding a new trigger option to existing reminders, this opens up the door for useful driving-specific reminders. Tell Siri “remind me to fill up with gas when I get in the car” or “check my tire pressure when I get out of the car” for example. These also work with iOS 9 and compatible Bluetooth systems, but CarPlay presents the alert and additional options like marking it completed or snoozing it on-screen.

Intelligence as Apple puts it is a flagship feature behind-the-scenes with iOS 9, and proactive assistance is one of its tent pole points. Maps benefits by using traffic conditions to notify you when you should leave for an appointment with an address on your calendar, and using Maps in CarPlay also includes a couple new behaviors.

During navigation Apple Maps now alerts you to congested traffic ahead during your trip. Maps also presents faster alternative routes now during travel when traffic develops and slows down your trip.

Proactive features stop at traffic alerts and alternative routes with CarPlay in iOS 9 however. Where iPhone and iPad benefit from a new Siri-focused page to the left of the main Home screen, CarPlay still doesn’t go beyond the basic app launcher. A concept by Casey Feldman featured on Dribbble illustrates what a smarter CarPlay could look like in the future.

Something else missing from CarPlay in iOS 9 is points-of-interest categories made available on the iPhone and iPad. These would fit in naturally on CarPlay, which focuses on limiting distractions in the car, so I would love to see any of these implemented.

The state of apps on CarPlay, on the other hand, has rather rapidly progressed. While there’s no specialized CarPlay App Store yet as there is for Apple Watch and developers can’t openly create and submit apps without Apple’s approval, the number of CarPlay apps available has grown from a few to a small handful of audio apps over the last year. I discovered many more less known CarPlay apps during my research for this piece. Many of these playback audiobooks and podcasts or Internet radio stations.

Apple has also opened the door to “Support for CarPlay apps from auto manufacturers” as mentioned in iOS 9’s release notes. These will allow users to stay in the CarPlay experience while controlling car-specific functions from the automaker.

Optimized for night time driving, CarPlay now features dark notification banners for alerts. These replace the standard white banners in the evening, although in my testing typically aren’t enabled without first opening Maps which uses location to determine when to use dark mode.

By default my display toggles between brightness settings based on whether or not my headlights are on, although I’ve changed this to be based on time of day instead. Perhaps others may experience this with dark banners already (I haven’t), but I would like to see these kick in consistently around 7 pm automatically.

In addition to adding support for car apps from the automakers, CarPlay in iOS 9 adds support for new display types as well. Additional screen types including ones with wider aspect ratios and high DPI can now support CarPlay. This means we should see support spread to a wider and interesting range of displays going forward.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to test it, iOS 9 actually delivers wireless support for using CarPlay as we first reported was in development. The feature isn’t available on current aftermarket displays just yet and we haven’t seen it enabled in current cars shipping with CarPlay either, but once readily available wireless CarPlay should greatly improve the whole experience. The convenience of auto-connecting between iPhones and audio systems over Bluetooth cannot be overstated. You never have to even take your iPhone out of your pocket and audio can autoplay if desired.

I’m happy to see Apple ship wireless CarPlay so soon with iOS 9 and hope we’ll see it implemented in products you can buy soon. And while I haven’t tried it out yet and can’t speak to its performance and stability, I stumbled on this iPhone battery indicator in CarPlay with iOS 9. You don’t always see it as it’s likely only meant for wireless CarPlay, but I think it would be a useful addition for wired connections too.

Lastly, iOS 9’s release notes mention tilting and spinning knob controls for navigating the CarPlay interface.

Full support for car knob controls, so you can tilt and spin to scroll through lists or pan around in Maps

We’ve seen automakers like Mercedes-Benz take this approach, relying on hardware controls rather than touch displays.

As more display types join the existing variety of screen types including both resistive and capacitive touch displays, this helps CarPlay adapt to whichever type of hardware is provided.


Redesigned Siri and Now Playing screens, a new Podcasts app, audio message playback, wireless, and visual tweaks throughout the interface really summarizes what’s new with CarPlay this year. Some of it requires new hardware and others features are steps in the right direction but don’t move CarPlay way ahead just yet.

Still, I’m happy to see CarPlay not just sit parked and actually move forward if even a small amount as new features come with each iOS update. Next up I’d really like to see the ability to send audio messages, a better Apple Music experience, and maybe even more customization options like being able to rearrange app icons (it’s currently alphabetized for third-party apps).

After using CarPlay for a full year now I’m pleased at its progress and recommend considering it as a feature to look out for when buying a new car or picking out an aftermarket display. It’s still not perfect, but CarPlay is getting better with time.

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The State Of Windows 8

Only Microsoft knows how the next version of its Windows operating system will look and what it will be called, but big changes could be ahead for the OS that observers refer to as “Windows 8.”

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will support system-on-a-chip architectures using ARM processors. Unlike the x86 architecture that today’s Windows laptops and desktops work with, ARM-based chips tend to run such low-power devices as tablets and smartphones.

In his CES keynote speech, Microsoft CEO Steve Ball­mer said, “This announcement is really all about enabling a new class of hardware, and new silicon partners for Windows, to bring the widest possible range of form factors to the market.”

In other words, Windows won’t be just for laptops and desktops anymore.

Actual Facts

Microsoft’s ARM announcement represents the firm’s only officially released factual detail about Windows 8. Consistent with it, the company named Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments as silicon partners, so Windows devices built upon their three low-power platforms are likely.

At an architectural summit in London last year, Microsoft en­­couraged the idea of virtualizing Windows more heavily, possibly storing apps, data, Windows settings, and parts of the OS itself in the cloud.


No rumor about Windows 8 is more precise than a series of leaked slides that supposedly provide a blueprint for Microsoft’s next OS. The slides alone don’t indicate final features of Windows 8, but they do show where Microsoft is headed, especially since other reports have corroborated them.

One slide, for example, talks about an OS that follows users wherever they go; instead of being tethered to hardware, users may roam between desktops, laptops, and tablets in whatever way is most convenient.

Another slide speaks of a reset button that preserves apps and settings while wiping out viruses and other hindrances. Some industry watchers suggest that storing apps and data in the cloud could make this feature possible.

As for Microsoft’s goal of “instant on” computing, blogger Manan Kakkar spotted a Microsoft patent for using a hypervisor-another virtualization method-to split the operating system into a general-purpose OS and a number of appliancelike applications, such as for TVs and tablets. Those uses, Kakkar says, could switch on instantly even if the core OS took 30 seconds to start up.

How will Microsoft achieve these lightweight versions of its operating system? A ru­­mor circulated by Paul Thurrott posits that Windows 8 will introduce a tile-based interface called “Mosh” to serve as an alternative UI for tablets and other low-power touchscreen devices.

We’ve also heard rumblings about a new application de­­velopment framework code-named “Jupiter,” whose goal is to help developers create dynamic, visually appealing, and immersive applications for a forthcoming Windows app store. It may also be an attempt by Microsoft to enable developers to create apps that work on both traditional x86-based CPUs and ARM-based processors without extensive recompiling and reprogramming.


If you doubt whether Windows 8 will be a profoundly different operating system from its predecessors, consider this breathless bit of hype that briefly appeared on a Microsoft developer’s blog in 2009:

“The minimum that folks can take for granted is that the next version will be something completely different from what folks usually expect of Windows…The themes that have been floated truly reflect what people have been looking [for] for years and it will change the way people think about PCs and the way they use them. It is the future of PCs.”

Microsoft quickly removed the blog, as if to erase the evidence. So is the company really trying to shake things up with Windows 8?

The Big Picture

Microsoft clearly wants to create an operating system that scales between devices. ARM support provides the foundation, and cloud services could be a major building block. The challenge for Microsoft will be to leave the core Windows experience and legacy compatibility intact while also pursuing its lofty ambitions.

A final rumor: Reportedly, Microsoft is targeting a 2012 release for Windows 8. Think the company can get everything figured out by then?

What’s New In Os X Yosemite

The WWDC in June is usually the first place new Apple hardware, software, and devices are shown. Sometimes they’re released at that point, and sometimes not until later in the fall, but it’s always a good measure of what Apple is planning. This week’s WWDC was no different and did not disappoint. Today we’ll discuss the changes to OS X Yosemite.

OS X Yosemite

Looks are everything, or at least that is usually what Apple’s motto seems to be. They always have beautiful interfaces and strive to have it be the first thing people notice. Each version seems to be even more so. For OS X Yosemite, Apple is streamlining toolbars and making windows translucent so that what you notice is your wallpaper and your project. They’ve changed to a fresh new typeface as well, a sans serif style.

The Notification Center now includes a Today feature making it look just like iOS, as it includes your Calendar, Reminders, Weather, etc. And Spotlight now has function similar to Siri. You can now look up information such as movies, Wikipedia, news, etc. Your results are also interactive.

In Mail, you can now send larger attachments, up to 5GB. Large attachments are automatically uploaded to iCloud. If your recipient is also using Mail, they’ll be able to download normally. If they don’t, they’ll receive a link to download it. Markup is now included as well. You can add shapes and text and annotation by drawing on a multi-touch trackpad. You can also fill out forms and PDFs.

No longer are iMessages just text. Now you can record a quick audio clip and send it along with your text message or instead of your text message. You can also name the conversations that you’re having to make it easier to refer back to later. Additionally, you’ll be able to add more people to the conversation without having to start a new message or can leave the conversation when you’re done with it.

iCloud will now be built right into the Finder. It will work like just another folder, allowing you to drag and drop files and folders there. Offline changes will sync up when you connect again to the Web. You can easily keep things organized with tags. iCloud Drive can be accessed on all your devices. And now to share files, you can share not just between iOS devices, but between two Macs or between Mac and iOS.

And that brings up the biggest, most exciting change. Mac and iOS will now be connected more so than they have been in the past. When a Mac running OS X Yosemite is near a device running iOS 8, they’ll recognize each other and work together.

You will now be able to answer your iPhone calls on your Mac. You’ll get a notification of your calls right on your Mac screen when the phone is ringing. It will show you the caller’s name, number, and profile picture. You can answer it speaking and listening through your Mac or decline it with the same options as your iPhone. You will also be able to make calls from your Mac.

While Pages has been doing this for awhile, several of the native apps will allow you to “handoff” from Mac to iOS and vice versa. You can be writing an email, working on a document, entering a Calendar note, or browsing in Safari. You can leave you Mac and pick up your iPad or iPhone to continue without missing a beat.

You don’t have to worry about not having WiFi for your laptop. Your Mac can use the personal hotspot of your iPhone, as long as they are within a certain range of each other. You don’t need to do any setup for this. Your iPhone will appear in the WiFi menu on your Mac. If your Mac isn’t using it, it disconnects to save battery life.

You can also now use the beta version of OS X Yosemite. Hurry, though, as only the first one million users will be allowed to use the beta. If you download and use it, let us know what you think.

Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site’s sponsored review program.

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Android 8.1 Oreo Is Here: What’s New, What’s Changed, And What’s Awesome

Get your phones ready because Android Oreo is finally here. But its name isn’t the only thing that’s sweet about Android 8. While it might not be as jam-packed with features as prior Android releases, Android Oreo has plenty of features that make it a must-download, from picture-in-picture to notification changes that will help you keep annoying alerts at bay. And now Android 8.1 has arrived to bring even more awesome features and enhancements. So bring your sweet tooth because there’s a lot to chew on.

Can I install it on my phone?

As with any new Android release, the devices on which you can install Oreo are extremely limited. Here’s the list:

When’s it coming to my non-Google phone?

Other than the devices above, you’ll need to wait for manufacturers and carriers to begin rolling out their own versions of the OS. So far, only four phones support Oreo out of the box:

As for the other manufacturers, Google says it’s working with its partners to deliver Android 8 to phones “by the end of this year,” and there are a lot betas already in the works from Samsung, Essential, HMD (Nokia), Huawei, HTC, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, and Sony. OnePlus says an Oreo update will be available by the end of the year and HTC is promising an update to the U11 and U11 Ultra by the early December.

Once the Android Oreo update is ready for your phone, you’ll receive a notification of a pending system update. Tap it and you’ll be taken to the Settings app where you can proceed to download and install it. If by chance you want to install the update manually, you can find the factory images for Pixel and Nexus devices here.

Do I need to unenroll from the beta program first?

Nope, there’s no need to do that. Even though your phone will continue to say you’re enrolled in the beta program, once you get the update, you’ll still be running the final version of Android Oreo, just like everyone else. And as new betas land for 8.1 and beyond, you’ll be among the first to get them, too.

As Android’s engineering team explained in a recent Reddit AMA: “Devices launching with Android O will come Treble-enabled out of the box. Project Treble will make it easier, faster and less costly for device maker partners when these devices are updated in the future.” So, while Android P might make it to non-Pixel phones quicker, it won’t have an effect on Android Oreo updates.

Android 8 Oreo features

Here’s everything that’s new in Oreo:



The Settings app in Android Oreo (left) has gotten a facelift as you can see in this comparison with Android Nougat (right).

Individual settings screens have been tweaked as well. Tap on the Battery tab, for instance, and you’ll see a new visualization of remaining run time (tap it to get back to the old chart), as well as toggles for battery saver and adaptive brightness, and the inactivity sleep timer. You’ll have to explore yourself to find out where everything is, but if you get lost, you can still use the handy search icon in the top right corner.



When you’re watching a video in Chrome using Android 8, you can turn it into a picture-in-picture window on your home screen.

Of all the new stuff in Oreo, the feature everyone is going to want to try out first is picture-in-picture. It doesn’t yet work with a lot apps, but it’s a feature developers will likely want to support as quickly as possible. Using it is easy. When you’re watching a full-screen video in YouTube or Chrome, just press the home button and the video will shrink down to a  window that floats on top of whatever else you’re doing.

From there you can move it around the screen, close it out, or tap to launch the app again. It’s a feature that’s sure to be more useful on Android Oreo tablets than phones, but on the giant screen of the Nexus 6P, the tiny window is definitely watchable.



Autofill will be super-charged to work with third-party password managers.

Just like you can customize Android’s keyboard with a better one, now you can customize password management with a third-party platform. And it works all over Android, not just in Chrome. That means when you reach an app that requires a saved login in Android 8, the fields will automatically populate using info from your personal password vault. And it’ll work with your password manager of choice: Dashlane, 1Password, and Enpass have already announced support for autofill in Android 8. So if you aren’t using a password manager, now’s a great time to start.


Every new Android release includes some changes to notifications, and like Nougat, Android Oreo brings some pretty big ones. Its starts with the notification shade. The quick settings panel is now white instead of black, and the Settings app shortcut has been moved to the space below the icon strip. A couple of the quick settings tiles have changed as well. The battery icon has been replaced with Battery saver, but you’ll still be able to see your remaining battery life in the status bar (previously it disappeared when you pulled down the shade). And there’s a new System icon that tells you the version of Android you’re running. The Night Light tile is gone as well.


The notification shade has gotten some new options in Android O.

The way notifications are handled has also changed. Swipe right and you’ll see two icons: Settings and a new clock—touch the clock to snooze the alert for up to two hours. Also, if you long press on a notification, you’ll be able to turn off all future alerts. On some apps you’ll see a simple switch, but others will have a Categories button, which lets you get granular with what notifications you receive. So, instead of an all-or-nothing decision, you can now choose what type of notification “channels” you will receive without needing to fuss with the individual app’s settings.


Android O puts small dots on icons to alert you to unread notifications. Then you can long press to see them.

Finally, Android 8 is introducing icon badges—or as Google calls them, dots—for unread notifications. They won’t display a numeral that indicates the specific number of unread notifications (a feature in Nova and other launchers), but the dots will give you a visual indication that an alert has arrived. They’re visible whether the app is on the home screen or inside the app drawer, and if you long press on an app icon, you’ll see your unread notifications. Tap to open them in the app, or clear them with a swipe.

Smart text selection


Text selection has gotten a whole lot smarter in Android O.

Another useful feature in Android Oreo is smart text selection, which aims to cut down on various test-handling frustrations. When you tap on an address in Oreo, the text-selection engine will be smart enough to recognize a full address, not just the word you’ve tapped on. And once it’s selected (by double-tapping the original highlighted word if it didn’t get it the first time), you’ll see a new option to head straight to Google Maps or (in the case of a phone number), the Phone app. There’s also a handy new “Paste as plain text” option that will strip any formatting.

Battery improvements

Google has optimized much of Android Oreo behind the scenes to make your battery last longer, but there are a few things you can see. In the notification shade, a persistent notification will now alert you to any apps that are running in the background. You can also finally opt to display your battery percentage next to the status bar icon at the very top of your display.


There are lots of battery improvements in Android O, but you won’t be able to see most of them.

Speed boost

Google understands our pain when it comes to Nougat boot times, and it has seriously upgraded Android 8 to cut down on the time it takes to load. All Android Oreo devices should see a significantly reduced boot speed, but Pixel owners will particularly benefit. Google says boot times on the Pixel and Pixel XL have decreased by about half of the time it took to load under Nougat, and the upcoming Pixel 2 will surely push it even further.



Google wants icons to be more uniform and adaptive in Android O.

Android Oreo is introducing adaptive icons in an effort to create some unity over how they look. Much like last year’s push for circular icons with Nougat and the Pixel Launcher, Oreo is pressing developers to submit icons that can dynamically change with the system, so they can be square on one phone and circles on another without upsetting the overall vision for the icon. The new system also allows developers to add visual effects and subtle animations to their icons, such as parallax or scaling effects.



The familiar “blob” emoji (above) are gone in Android O, replaced with much more cartoonish ones (below).

Here’s something you will definitely notice in Android Oreo: New emoji. Say goodbye to the blobs and hello to a new set of easier-to-distinguish cartoons. But the old blobs aren’t gone completely: You can download the old-school emoji as an animated sticker pack in Google Allo.

What you can’t see

The State Of The Guardian’s Sotu Infographic Is…Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

Yesterday, as a run-up to Obama’s State of the Union address, The Guardian published an interactive infographic called “The state of our union is … dumber: How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined.”

The chart plotted the reading level of every SOTU address since the country’s founding along a timeline. Each bubble represents a single speech, with the height of the bubble indicating grade level, and the bubble’s size indicating speech length. With the exception of a few outliers–Madison blew everyone away in 1815 with a speech targeted for an audience in grade 25.3; Lincoln delivered an address in 1862 of exceptionally low standard–the trend is indeed clear: the annual State of the Union had gotten progressively dumber over time.

Pretty scary, huh? At least, it would be scary if the chart were actually showing the declining linguistic standard of presidential speeches. But, in fact, it’s the graphic itself–or, at least, The Guardian‘s packaging of the graphic–that is doing the dumbing-down, by using the simplistic Flesch-Kincaid readability test as a metric for the “linguistic standard” of presidential rhetoric.

In reality, the Flesch-Kincaid readability test measures two things: the length of the words in a piece of prose, and the number of words per sentence. As columnist and linguist Ben Zimmer explains, the test was developed in the 1970s, not as a metric for the intelligence, complexity, or lingual eloquence contained in a text, but as a “rough and ready analytical tool” for assessing the appropriateness of texts for different grade levels. If a book or article or written speech scores a 5, a fifth-grader should be able to get through it without getting lost in a sea of clauses and semicolons.

So, what does this graphic really tell us? Words and/or sentences have been getting shorter. And what does that mean? Well, it could mean that the English language is being reduced to an ugly nonsense heap of monosyllabic words. Except, when you break the State of the Union addresses down by both word length and sentence length, as linguist Mark Liberman did a while back in response to another linguistic hell-in-a-handbasket Guardian article, the actual trend becomes a lot clearer:

Word Length and Sentence Length in State of the Union Addresses

Okay, so word length has decreased slightly over time, and sentence length has decreased dramatically. That trend may denote a stylistic shift in political rhetoric, says Zimmer, but it tells you very little about the quality or intellectual prowess of each sentence’s content. Instead, it probably reflects the fact that politicians have caught on to the idea that audiences don’t really want to walk away from a speech in awe of the orator’s masterful use of the semi-colon; they want to walk away knowing what the orator was talking about.

Instead, The Guardian chose to reinforce the ancient, cherished myth of cultural/societal degeneration, because that’s what people wanted to hear. Responses to the graphic on Twitter yesterday reflect people’s readiness for the news that we’re all getting lazier and dumber: “Wow, proof intelligence is on the decline”; “pretty scary”; “exactly what I’d expect.”

Next time, how about reprinting an excerpt from “A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue”? It was written by the exquisite grammarian Jonathan Swift back in 1712, when the English Tongue was much Purer:

I do here in the Name of all the Learned and Polite Persons of the Nation, complain to your Lordship, as First Minister, that our Language is extremely imperfect; that its daily Improvements are by no means in proportion to its daily Corruptions; and the Pretenders to polish and refine it, have chiefly multiplied Abuses and Absurdities; and, that in many Instances, it offends against every Part of Grammar.

Ios 10 Vs. Ios 9: What Has Changed?

iOS 10, the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system went live as a Public Beta recently, bringing with it a host of bug fixes from the Developer Beta and new features and improvements from iOS 9. I have tried the iOS 10 Public Beta hands-on, and it looks promising; Apple might finally be heading towards achieving a perfect balance between design choices and UX on iOS. It’s not perfect, but they’re definitely getting closer. That’s definitely one good thing about Apple, they accept where their products fall short, and try to improve upon that in newer updates. iOS 10 looks like it has finally fixed a lot of issues from its predecessors, and introduced some that irk me.

1. Stock Apps Begone!

At the WWDC, this year, Apple announced a host of new stuff. If you don’t remember the details, or if you live under a rock, check out our article on WWDC 2024. Among the various iOS 10 features introduced at the event, there was one that immediately drew a huge round of applause from the attendees: stock apps can be removed from iOS 10.

Still, like I said, it’s a start; at least my home screen looks less cluttered now.

2. Notification Center

The notification center has been completely revamped. Notifications now appear as large cards that display a lot more information than the old notifications from iOS 9. There’s still the “swipe-left to clear or view” action available, so you can dismiss independent notifications. The cards on the new notification center are not at all appealing, at least not to me. They look extremely bulky, and if you have more than one notification in the notification center, it doesn’t look streamlined at all.

Except the fact that notifications display a lot more information than their iOS 9 counterparts, I’m unimpressed by the new notification style in iOS 10.

Swiping right on the Notification Center reveals the “Today” view, which is full to the brim with those bulky looking cards. I was extremely disappointed by this design choice, but I’m hoping it’ll grow on me.

3. Control Center

Apple has finally started paying attention to the Control Center, and has started removing the clutter, making it more manageable and intuitively designed… kind of.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Control Center and you will immediately notice a couple of big (welcome) changes. The toggles for various connectivity options such as WiFi, Bluetooth and Airplane Mode are now coloured. That doesn’t really translate to better performance, but it does add up to a vibrant UI. Also noticeable by only their absence, are the Music controls.

The music controls are no longer placed in the main control center, instead, they get their own control panel. Swipe left on the Control Center to reveal the music controls, which, apart from being separated from the main “Controls”, also have more options to control music on your device. You can now directly select the output device from the music control pane.

If there is one thing missing in the Control Center in iOS 10, it’s the ability to customise the controls that are available. I, for one, have no use for AirPlay, as I don’t use it. It would be better if I could use that space for something like a toggle for “Personal Hotspot”.

4. iMessage

iMessage now allows you to send handwritten messages, that will animate on the receiver’s screen exactly the same way that you scribbled them. You can also send hearts, kisses, broken hearts etc. In short, Apple has your love life covered. Jokes aside, the features themselves are rather interesting, and I’m sure you’ll all try them out, even if you don’t find too many uses for them. You can also send invisible messages now, that have to be swiped to be seen. So, next time you want to surprise someone, you can just send them a message with invisible ink. This is a feature some fear might be used in a, well, not entirely decent manner, but all we can do is hope.

Also among iMessages new features is the introduction of an “in-iMessage-app store“. This basically means that you will soon be able to book movie tickets or reserve tables at your favourite restaurants directly from the iMessages app.

5. Siri

Apple is finally opening Siri up to third party developers. This means that Siri will finally be able to become more than just a voice command system and truly transform itself into an intelligent virtual assistant; which, after all, is what it was always meant to be. Siri will soon be able to read out messages from third party messaging applications, and reply to them, all from your voice. Opening up Siri to third party developers is a great idea, which is coming too late to the assistant. Apple’s competitors (read: Google and Microsoft) have evolved their virtual assistants to capabilities far beyond what Siri offers right now, but all that is about to change once Siri is open to third party developers in iOS 10.

6. Collaboration in Notes

The Notes app in iOS 10 has a new collaboration feature which allows you to share a link with people over email, messages etc., which will allow them to view and edit the note that you shared the link for. This is better than the “share” option that was available earlier. The share option is still available, if you need to use it. However, collaboration in Notes is a good idea for teams that are working on an idea, or even for a group of friends trying to plan out an itinerary for their next trip. It’s just easier to view and edit a note that is visible to everyone and editable by everyone in the group.

7. Emoji Suggestions in Keyboards

The new iOS update also makes keyboards intelligent. You can now type anything on the keyboard and tap on words that you want to replace with emojis, and the keyboard will automatically suggest them to you. Simply tap to replace the word with the emoji, and you’re done. Typing messages that your parents can’t ever understand is now easier than ever, thanks to Apple. To be honest, this feature is probably only useful for teenagers, or to annoy your friends and co-workers.

8. Raise to Wake

When Apple launched the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the fingerprint sensor on the home button was so fast, that people couldn’t even look at the notifications on the lock screen before the iPhone unlocked itself. Who said faster computers are always better? Anyway, making the sensor slow would have been taking a step back, so Apple decided to figure out a different solution to this problem. Instead of having to press the home button, or the power button on your iPhone to turn the screen on, you can now simply raise your phone, and the screen lights up, letting you view your notifications without accidentally unlocking the phone.

This feature is only available in iPhone 6 and later, because these phones have their motion co-processor embedded with the processor, making it more power efficient to constantly monitor all the sensors the iPhone packs. While Apple could have easily enabled this feature for older phones, such as the 5s, it would have resulted in a massive drop in battery performance of the phones.

9. Lock-screen Changes

Another annoying thing I noticed on the lock-screen, is how unpredictably the “fingerprint scanning to unlock” works. Sometimes, the device unlocks the way I feel it should, just press your finger on the scanner and the phone gets unlocked. Other times, the phone unlocks on pressing the finger on the scanner but still requires me to press the home screen again to actually remove the lock screen from view and go to the home screen. It definitely has a reason to do this, but I can’t figure out the conditions under which the behaviour changes.

SEE ALSO: Moving From Android to iOS? Here’s Everything You Should Know

iOS 10: A Promising New Update

Overall, I feel that iOS 10 has a lot to offer, and a lot to add to our everyday experience on the iPhone, iPad and iPod. It has a number of new features, and it fixes a lot of the UI choices Apple made in the previous iterations of iOS. As far as the beta goes, it performs exceptionally well, and apart from a few glitches, it seems like Apple is getting very close to a perfect iteration of iOS.

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