iOS 10's Speed Is Justification Enough
Big Boy; Big Phone still in effect, words on next Tuesday's update from a withering old man.
Thanks to this week's September 2016 Keynote, we now know that iOS 10 will be officially released in just three days. I suppose it was a bit silly of me to download the public beta so late in the game, but I did, and regret it much less than I could've imagined.
I've used my rose gold iPhone 6S Plus more than any personal device I've ever owned. For the first time in my functioning life, I've had no persistent need for a laptop, which is a pretty big deal for reasons you couldn't care less about.
Ownership of my first generation iPhone trained me to dread new releases. Expectedly, it got less and less usable every time Stevie took the stage. For relevance's sake, I decided to opt in a bit early, despite my assumption that my 6S Plus would show its first signs of struggle as a result.
Immediately, though, the opposite effect was noticeable. Everything is faster: notifications, app opening/closing, intra-app function, and text entry, even. Smoother, too – so much so, it's almost a shame we've had to use iOS 9 on these devices for a whole year. The effect of such smoothing on my perception should be kept in consideration when reading the rest of my opining.
Raise to wake is less tedious/more useful than I anticipated, though it's been briefly mistriggered a few times in transit from inside my Moshi Overture Wallet Case (an extraordinary product, by the way,) but it should be noted that I walk and carry my phone rather strangely. With relatively default sleep/wake settings, I did not notice enough mistriggering to have quantifiable power consequences.
Messages is appropriately-complex for the times, now, if that makes sense. The pressure to “compete” with Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, What'sApp, etc. is understandable, but the execution of their reply is not. For me, at least, there is simply nothing to add to SMS. Its role is purely functional. I wasn't able to try out many of the new features. Not just because nobody else had iOS 10, but because – critically – I could not think of someone I'd be willing to bother with useless garbage like... a doodle. And even if I could've, it's probably actually less trouble to use one of those third-party applications in that Application Shop Apple has been so proud of for so long. For old people like me, even cleverly stowed buttons for unused features are still buttons. It feels an awful lot like an obligatory alteration, not a visionary one, and it's a shame that Apple's losing its awareness of the appropriate time for one, the other, or neither.
I feel like competence in coverage of Apple is heavily dependent upon the ability to differentiate between the allure of an intelligently blingy feature and the allure of an intelligently functional one. Crude, I know, but ever more essential. Contextual predictions are impressive and surprisingly-clever. It's encouraging to see progress in such simple interactions, but – be honest with yourself – making use of it is actually going to cost you time in the majority of cases. Hate to be excessively meta here, but keep in mind – again – that I am not the majority. I tend to type things out... It's my thing. If this is completely obscuring my vision of any of these features' uselessness, please take the time to add to the discussion in the comments. Discourse is the handiest security in such matters.
I've loved 3D Touch all along, even though something like 75% of the time, I've been triggering it unintentionally. It's very useful for quickly grabbing web images, but I'm probably more of a thief than you'll ever be. Mostly, I just like the sensation. The curt vibration and brittle illusion of a third interactive dimension have provided more functionality than... its actual functionality. With touch and go, though, I can instantly conjure a concise summary of the current local weather conditions, and a singular story from Apple News. Though I'm undoubtedly going to need to make a conscious effort to remember to use them, anything's a plus when one's affection was already so irrational.
As to Apple News itself... It's just not the same application. The “For You” roll was amusingly messy before but actual structure (read: functional aggregation) has killed some of its beauty, I'm afraid. It is so much faster, though. We'll actually have to take it seriously, now.
I haven't gotten the opportunity to really use rich notifications yet, but I can't imagine them actually making anything much faster. Perhaps singularly, I've always found my unconscious navigation to a given application itself to be quick enough to consistently glance over “no, you don't have to leave the app” features.
I suspect the ability to search photos by content will be iOS 10's most useful addition for myself. A few trials demonstrate that it can differentiate between “nightfall” and “night,” and “clothed” and “nude.” (I have never been naked.) It's the most intriguing, too, because it means more nuanced & controversial search parameters are just a few years away. Search by expression? Even search by emotion. I can't wait until Apple gets to wrestle with the perceived difference between peace and apathy within an algorithmic context.
“Please define 'joy,' Mr. Ives.”