iOS 10, which launches this fall, is the biggest iPhone update in years.
I’ve been testing the beta version of iOS 10 for a few days, and so far my favourite new feature is the lock screen. It’s already changed the way I use my iPhone.
Before, you couldn’t really do much in the lock screen besides checking your notifications or launching the camera. But iOS 10 adds a ton of functionality.
The biggest change: The “Slide To Unlock” feature that’s been around since Steve Jobs wowed the crowd with it way back in 2007 is gone. Now, the iPhone’s display automatically activates when you lift the device. To get to your home screen, you click the home button after unlocking it with your fingerprint.
(Tip: As you lift to activate the display, lightly place your finger on the fingerprint sensor. This will unlock your phone, but keep you on the lock screen. That way you can do what you need to do on the lock screen or click the button to see you home screen.)
All of this solves a problem a lot of people had with the iPhone 6s fingerprint sensor. People complained it was too fast and unlocked the phone before they had a chance to check the notifications or the time on their lock screen. And that’s a good thing because everything else on the lock screen is designed to help you get as much done as possible without unlocking your phone.
First, there’s notifications, which have a new look. They can include rich media like photos or GIFs if the app’s developer supports it. You also have more options to interact with notifications, like marking an email as read or liking a tweet. But my favourite feature lets you reply to text messages right from the lock screen. It saves a a lot of time.
Widgets are the other major change. When you swipe from left to right, you get the same panel of widgets you used to see in the notification center. The widgets have a similar bubbly look as the new notifications, but work just like they do in iOS 9. Many apps don’t support widgets, but I’m guessing that will change now that more people will be able to see them on the lock screen. (I’m praying for a Twitter widget.)
I have my widgets set up to show me my calendar appointments in Fantastical, weather from Apple’s Weather app, sports scores from Yahoo Sports, and headlines from The New York Times. Tapping on any of those widgets will launch the full app so you can get more information, but having everything there at a quick glance on the lock screen is a game changer.
All of this means that if you curate which notifications and widgets appear on your lock screen, you can get the information you need and respond to stuff all from the lock screen without having to unlock your phone and jump into individual apps. The lock screen is now its own mini interface with light versions of your favourite apps.
When you think about it, a lot of what you do on you iPhone is responding to incoming notifications or glancing at updates from your apps. Widgets and rich notifications on the lock screen takes care of that. In just a few days, I’ve found myself getting more done without ever having to see my home screen. Pretty cool.
If you want to try the iOS 10 beta, you can sign up here. But I don’t recommend installing it on your primary iPhone unless you’re willing to risk a few bugs and glitches. Most people should wait until the final version comes out later this year.