With WWDC fast approaching, we’re looking at three smart features Apple should bring to iOS 10 to shore up the iPhone next to Android.
It’s no secret that, in the wake of Google’s I/O, Android is looking better than ever. With early previews of Android N offering some major new features and improvements, it’s time to turn our gaze towards the next update to Apple’s mobile operating system in the form of iOS 10.
Whether it be stylised iOS 10 or X, this is a round of combat in which Apple can’t afford to sit back and roll with the punches. In light of our recent article in which we focussed on how Android has thundered past iOS, it’s time to consider just what Apple’s mobile operating system could do to even the score.
Siri just wants to break free
Recent leaks have revealed Apple’s plans to open its digital assistant, Siri, to developers for the first time. This news hasn’t come a moment too soon, considering that Google’s introduction of Assistant across Google Home and Android will position the company not only in its users pockets, but further in the lounges of their homes.
While there’s already some speculation that Apple could be developing a standalone Siri unit to combat the likes of Google Home or Amazon’s Echo, the first move the Cupertino company needs to make is to rapidly open Siri for third party integration.
Since its inception, Siri has been one of the best examples of Apple’s “walled garden” approach – a tactic in which feature sets, however interesting, are left unable to cross-communicate with one another. With rumours abounding that Siri could be headed for the Mac as well, iOS 10 would seem a logical avenue for Apple to begin integrating its digital assistant across its product range.
A cross-platform Siri could effectively offer the same services Google Home does, with the added advantage of being embedded not only on laptop and desktop Mac computers, but further on television screens as well through Apple TV. Using Siri in this regard could place extra emphasis on the company’s iCloud services, such as Reminders, Mail, Contacts, Calendar and more, helping to retain users from making the switch to a third party app.
Read: Apple to open up Siri to third party developers
Let there be true multitasking
The fact that Android N will introduce split-screen multi-tasking on supported devices before Apple has been able to bring the feature to the iPhone – never mind the colossal 6 or 6s Plus – is frankly a surprise.
Whereas Android is supported across a range of devices at different sizes, Apple is in acute control of the form factors its mobile devices bear. The company first introduced split-screen viewing and slide-over app access to the iPad, but the fractured rollout of the former – only reaching iPads newer than the Air – and the fact that slide-over apps only provide information and input at a glance, rather than true side-by-side multitasking, means Apple has some catching up to do.
With iOS 10, Apple now has had the time and benefit of experience with the iPad Pro to roll out multi-tasking abilities to the iPhone. In fact, considering that iOS continues to support Reachability – in which pressing the home button twice lures an app halfway down the screen – the ability to side-by-side multitask on devices as large as iPhone Plus models is no longer a welcome addition; it’s a necessity.
Read: Three ways Android N has officially thundered past Apple’s iOS
3D Touch needs to expand its empire
3D Touch was undoubtedly the most important new feature Apple developed for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus; a technology in which an iPhone can detect varying amounts of pressure forced upon its screen. Up until now, 3D Touch has been employed to give quick timesavers from an app icon, with little context or even indication that a given app supports the new feature.
While some Android phones have made provision to support this technology as well, Android N is set to bring a timesaver of its own in the form of Instant Apps; a feature which Apple is unlikely to replicate given the app-centric focus of iOS.
With iOS 10, the time is ripe for Apple to expand 3D Touch as its own special sauce. Given the feature’s integration with the Apple Watch, Apple is well positioned to port the wearable’s digital touch feature – which allows users to draw pictures to send to others – to the iPhone. Instead of being solely limited to drawing pictures of flowers, digital touch support on the iPhone could instead bring interesting new features such as handwriting support for easy one-handed use in IM applications and more.
Further, 3D Touch could be used to extend haptic feedback throughout iOS, rather than see it limited to the home screen. Apps could make use of the technology in triggering different commands and functions once varying levels of force have been exerted through an iPad or iPhone’s screen.
Read: Android Launcher Shortcuts will add 3D Touch style timesavers
Have your say!
What killer feature do you think Apple could bring to iOS 10? What feature, above all others, is needed to give iOS a winning edge over Google’s Android mobile operating system?
Be sure to let us know your opinions in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA