15 ways iOS 10 will make the iPhone better

iOS 10 enhances everything from the lock screen to Siri, and trots out a boatload of new crazy-fun messaging features.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
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Watch this: 10 reasons to upgrade to iOS 10

Apple's new software for iPhone and iPads includes an exhaustive list of features, including upgrades to the Siri voice assistant, photos, maps and -- my personal favorite -- the ton of new ways to interact with friends using the Messages app.

Any iPhone 5 and newer will run Apple iOS 10, as will most recent iPads (sorry, iPhone 4 and 4S) -- check out the complete list here. Features that use 3D Touch for pressure sensitivity will only work on the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Some of the additions are admittedly more interesting than others, but they'll all help build on Apple's OS empire. In order of my favorites, here they are.

iOS 10 beta's best parts

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1. Incredibly interactive messages

Disco balls! Invisible ink! Emoji out the wazoo! This is Apple jumping on the zeitgeist of social messaging with the new Messages app in iOS 10. This is Apple's most developed change to the sprawling software, and also its broadest-reaching and most light-hearted. You'll get:

  • Rich links that show photos and video when you paste a URL
  • Better access to the camera and photo gallery
  • Emoji appear in your predictions list (and you can tap words to replace with emoji)
  • Emoji appear 3 times larger in the chat dialog
  • Text bubbles paste in sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large
  • Double-tap a bubble to send a reaction
  • Invisible ink message you scrub with your finger to unveil
  • Animated stickers (like from JibJab)
  • Pay friends using Apple Pay, right in the message

Messages for iOS 10 is now open to developers, so expect a dizzying amount of options by launch.

2. Lock screen becomes more of a hub

You'll be able to:

  • Raise the phone to wake the lock screen
  • Use 3D Touch to jump into a notification
  • Respond to messages from the lock screen
  • Slide right to open the camera
  • Slide left to open widgets
  • Access to the new Home app

This, too, will work with third-party apps, which means that you may be able to take care of much of your business without even needing to unlock the phone (we expect this to be optional, in case you're worried about others messing with your lock screen.)

3. Voice-command Siri to do stuff in your favorite apps

Expanding on the theme of newfound openness, Apple is letting app-makers latch on to Siri, so you can dictate Apple's voice assistant to do your bidding in other apps. Example: "Siri, use WhatsApp to tell Andy I'm running 5 minutes late."

You'll then be able to preview the message within the Siri app before sending it on its way.

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4. Buy stuff from your Mac, but pay from your iPhone

You could already answer iPhone calls on your Mac, but a change to Mac and iPhone software means you'll be able to pay for things as well. Let's say you're shopping on your laptop. Come checkout time, you can place your thumb on the iPhone home button and use TouchID to authenticate the purchase taking place on a totally different device (with an Apple Pay partner). Genius.

Also, Apple Pay is coming to Safari on iOS.

5. New keyboard tricks spare your tired, typing hands

While you're typing, Siri can now anticipate what you might want to do or say and suggest information you may need, like a contact's phone number, or an action, like put your dinner reservations on the calendar.

6. Control your smart home from any screen

A quick swipe to call up the Control Center gets you quick access to gear in your house that works with Apple's HomeKit, like a doorbell camera. In addition, the brand-new Home app groups controls for all your HomeKit-enabled appliances into one screen for you to adjust one at a time or as part of a "scene," or profile. (Bonus! You can say "Good morning, Siri" -- or tap it on the Home app -- to launch the morning scene.)

7. Paste iPhone URLs on your Mac, and vice versa

As part of the same set of iPhone/Mac bridging software called Continuity, you'll also have a universal clipboard that will let you paste URLs and other text on either your Mac or your iPhone or iPad. As a Mac user who has access to an iPhone (and a million other phones as well), the convenience factor is going to be huge.

Watch this: iOS 10 makes organizing your photos easier with facial recognition

8. Find photos more easily

iOS 10 uses facial recognition software to automatically build albums of people, places and events. This takes a lot of organizing work out of your hands, and also makes photos a heck of a lot easier to search.

Watch this: Apple plays catch up to Google with Maps update

9. Better mapping for your phone and car

I'm a Google Maps kind of gal, but Apple is making a big effort to catch up. It's refreshed Maps app starts with suggestions when you slide up. It also bakes in alternate routes, traffic information along the route, as well as gas stations and restaurants -- the app will also tell how you much time a fill-up will take. You can order an Uber from the app (and track it), and even book a dinner reservation with OpenTable and pay with Apple Pay, all without leaving the app.

If you have Apple Car Play, turn-by-turn directions read out on your car's instruments.

Watch this: Apple Music gets simple with cleaner look and design

10. Music app redesign lets you rock and rap along to lyrics

You can sum up the completely redesigned Music app like this: Lyrics, discovery and recommendations. For music lovers who don't use a third-party service, this one makes music easier to find than before. But the best part of the app was still the way it was announced on stage.

11. Automatic photo albums and videos

Click the Memories tab in your iOS 10 photo reel to see auto-organized albums (see #8) and video highlights, like of a family vacations. You'll also see a map of all your locations, and other related content, like another event where Grandpa and Grandma also tagged along.

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You'll be able to easily reach contacts that use third-party services.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

12. More ways to contact friends from the address book

I suffer from having contact information spread out across all my chatting platforms, so I love the idea of Apple making it easy to contact friends on third-party apps (like What's App, for example) directly from their contact card.

Likewise, a VoIP call from this service or others can integrate into the lock screen and your list of recent calls. iOS 10 will also include voicemail transcription, and you can use a third-party app to suggest if an unknown caller is spam (Apple demoed Tencent.)

13. Reading subscription magazines in the News app

You can already see newsfeeds laid out in snazzy ways, but in iOS 10, you'll be able to also see spreads for content you already subscribe to, like The Wall Street Journal. Breaking news notification also make the cut. This is how the old Newsstand should have always been.

14. Delete unwanted Apple apps

You know those apps on your home screen that you never use and don't really want? You can yank 'em out in iOS 10. Here's how.

15. Collaborate in a Note

I use Notes all the time to write stories and to-do lists, so the option to collaborate is pretty welcome.