Apple iOS 10: Will it make you love your iPhone again?

Apple's refining its iOS software even further with new features like quicker interactions with apps and revamps for its photos, maps and Apple Music apps.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Ian Sherr
Shara Tibken
3 min read
Watch this: Apple unveils iOS 10, packs it with new features

Is the tenth time a charm?

Apple on Monday revealed its newest mobile software, iOS 10, designed to power its iPhones and iPads with new features that aim to make its apps easier to use, interact more closely with its Mac computers, and other refinements. With all these changes, Apple is hoping it can make iOS more appealing in an age when everyone who wants a smartphone can have one and changes feel evolutionary instead of revolutionary.

Here are the coolest new features of iOS 10 (pictures)

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It's the "biggest iOS release ever for our users," said Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software engineering. The software will be offered for free to iPhone and iPad owners in the fall.

But instead of focusing on big new features, Apple has chosen to bulk up the capabilities of its existing apps and services. As a result, the phone knows what's in a photo, who's in the photo or whether it was taken while on a trip, and can automatically reassemble them into shareable videos. Programs like Apple's much-maligned Maps app have new designs to make it easier to read while driving or reserve a table at a restaurant from within the app.

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Apple's iOS 10 is a mix of refinements and moves to catch up with competitors.

Oscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The company's also reworked its Apple Music app, making it both easier to use and catching up to competitors like Spotify by offering curated playlists. And the company also revamped its text-messaging app to include new animations and the ability to work with outside programs like Square Cash to send payments to friends.

The iOS revamp serves as the starting gun for Apple's fall lineup of devices, including expected new iPhones and iPads, which are typically released in time for the holiday shopping season. The WWDC event Apple puts on during the summer acts as a preview of new features that many existing iPhone and iPad owners will get for free.

When Apple released iOS 9 in September, it included software designed to predict people's needs and interests. For instance, the device could load up music selections ahead of regular morning runs or bring up an audiobook someone is listening to while in the car. The software also came with updates to the Siri digital voice assistant and Apple's Maps and Notes apps. And Apple introduced its News app to aggregate various news sources into one easy-to-read interface.

Those features have helped Apple convince a vast majority of iPhone and iPad owners to upgrade and quick. As of last month, 84 percent of Apple's mobile devices on the market were running iOS 9, the newest version of Apple's software. Another 11 percent used iOS 8, and 5 percent of devices ran an older version, according to the company's developer dashboard.

That's far ahead of Google, which has struggled to ensure its users are regularly upgraded to the latest software, despite offering it for free. As of June 6, only 10 percent of Android devices ran the latest software, dubbed Marshmallow.

Apple did offer a new apps for iOS 10, though. The company expanded on its home-automation efforts with a new app called Home. The app is designed to allow users to more easily control their accessories, like smart doorbell ringers, from their iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. "With just a tap, open up your garage door," Federighi said.

Apple said all these features will continue to be designed with privacy in mind, using encryption to jumble information while it's traveling through the internet, among other theories.

"We believe you should have great features and great privacy," Federighi said. "You demand it and we're dedicated to providing it."

To encourage even more people to use its latest iOS software, Apple last year began offering fans a way to test its software ahead of release. The company plans to make a similar offer this year, through what it calls the Apple Seed program, starting in July.