Apple Showcases the Next Version of iPhone Software: iOS 10

As expected, Apple has showcased a new version of its mobile operating system iOS at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Apple (AAPL) senior vice president Craig Federighi unveiled iOS 10 at WWDC in San Francisco on Monday. The operating system boasts an enhanced design, and as the veteran Apple executive noted, 10 new features. Like its predecessors, it’ll be available as a free download later this year.

Apple’s iOS 10 has a new lock screen, allowing users to see notifications in a new way and a new feature called “raise-to-wake,” which wakes up the iPhone’s screen by simply raising a wrist. The lock screen also features the ability to act on notifications, including accepting calendar invites, without ever jumping into the operating system. The lock-screen feature is also available with Messages and third-party apps. However, many of the nicer lock screen features, including the ability to eliminate notifications all at once, requires 3D Touch, a feature only available iPhone 6s devices and newer.

Perhaps most importantly to Apple’s developers, Apple has opened Siri support to third-party apps. That means users will be able to use Siri and perform functions inside apps, assuming apps support the feature.

But that’s not all about Siri. Apple said that the company’s “QuickType” feature, which helps users auto-populate chat windows, will rely upon Siri’s “deep learning” features to show relevant information above the keyboard. Siri might also pre-fill a calendar event and other information, based on what it’s analyzing in a chat.

Apple holds WWDC each year in San Francisco. The show is an opportunity for Apple to showcase its latest software achievements, talk about its work with the developer community, and perhaps most importantly, get consumers interested in the software experience they’ll get later in the year.

Traditionally, WWDC has been a largely software-focused affair, and all signs prior to this year’s event pointed toward the same. Apple’s next iPhone, believed to be known as iPhone 7, likely won’t launch until later this year, and the company might also showcase new Macs and iPads at some point in the future.

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Apple’s iOS is a critical component in the company’s mobile experience. The operating system comes bundled with several apps, like Mail for emailing and a Safari Internet browser. It also includes access to apps through Apple’s App Store. The operating system, which debuted in 2007 with the first-ever iPhone, works across Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and the iPod touch.

Apple updates iOS each year with several features it highlights at WWDC. The company’s software upgrade also includes a slew of under-the-hood improvements, including bug fixes, security updates, and other tweaks. At this year’s WWDC, Apple promised that the operating system would deliver better performance than the iOS 9 the company launched last year.

In addition to the aforementioned features, Apple’s iOS 10 adds improved Photos support, including the ability to recognize faces. The Photos app also features object and scene recognition to identify things inside a photo, like water or a mountain, and adds a memories tab that will automatically make memory movies.

But Apple was far from over. The company announced a new design for its Maps app, as well as the ability for third-party developers to integrate extensions in Maps. The mapping app includes improved driving directions, the ability to see traffic, and points of interest among other features.

As expected, Apple Music has also received a major overhaul, including a new design that the company says, is “more intuitive and more familiar.” Indeed, the app makes it easier for users to find their downloaded music, recently added tracks, and other features. The curated For You app has also received an upgrade, and users can see lyrics when they’re playing tracks.

Apple also showcased a new version of Apple News, which includes a new design and support for subscriptions, so daily versions of magazines or newspapers will be delivered to the app.

Even HomeKit received a boost in iOS 10 with a new app the company is calling Home. From within the app, users can control all of the devices that connect to Apple’s proprietary HomeKit service, which manages smart home products. The app also has a “Scenes” feature that informs devices when a person is home or away, and presets respond accordingly. Apple Watch also works with Home.

Next up in Apple’s list of 10 updates to iOS was the phone feature. For one, users will find voicemail transcripts, so they don’t need to listen to a long voicemail. Apple will also inform iOS 10 users if a caller is a possible spammer.

Finally, Apple’s Federighi talked about Messages, which now supports sharing YouTube videos, rich links that provide insight into what the URL might offer if a user clicks on it, and bigger emoji. Messages are promised to do a better job of predicting what a person is trying to say and responding accordingly, and there’s even a way to send a surprise message that recipients would need to swipe over in order to see. Federighi added that Messages will support handwritten messages, as well.

Interestingly, Apple added support for iMessage Apps, allowing third-party companies to create apps, like stickers, that would integrate into the company’s messaging application. Messages will also now accept payments, so users can send money to one another via the app.

Speaking to a packed house at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Monday, Apple’s Federighi said the new operating system said that iOS 10 is the biggest improvement yet to the operating system. He might be right.

Still, it’s unlikely that iOS 10 will do much to move Apple’s needle in the mobile operating system market. Indeed, over the last several years, Google’s (GOOGL) Android has only secured greater market share worldwide as an increasing number of vendors build compelling devices to compete with Apple’s iPhone. In the first quarter, for instance, Apple’s iOS market share stood at approximately 15% worldwide, according to research firm IDC. That was down from 18.3% market share in the first quarter of 2015.

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Ultimately, though, Apple is a hardware company first, and it’s most concerned about selling more smartphones than beating Android in market share. While in the first quarter of the year, Apple’s iPhone sales declined for the first time in history, the company (and analysts) believe that will change when the new iPhone, believed to be known as the iPhone 7, launches later this year. That device will be running iOS 10.

Apple will launch iOS 10 as a free upgrade this fall. It’ll be available to both iPhones and iPads.

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