Apple continues adding new features and tweaking old ones with iOS 10. There were a great many changes in iOS 9 for iPad, but the follow up has more to offer iPhone. Still, there definitely are enhancements to benefit those with an iPad Pro or iPad mini.
We extensively tested iOS 10, and here are the new or updated features that will mean the most to tablet users. We also catalogued some much needed enhancements that are notably absent.
Split View Safari Tabs
iOS 9 brought much needed support for side-by-side multitasking–the ability to display two applications on-screen at the same time. While that was all very well, each app was still limited to a single window. This was especially burdensome in Safari, as people frequently want to display two web pages simultaneously.
This limitation began changing with iOS 10. Apple’s web browser can now show a pair of sites, with each taking up half the screen. Arranging the two pages on the display is simple–go to the list of open browser tabs and drag one to the side of the screen to open it in a second window–but this split-view feature is limited only to landscape mode.
Ending split view is just as easy, but not as intuitive as it could be: Touch and hold on one of the Tabs icons and choose Merge All Tabs.
This is a welcome step in the right direction, but now this functionality needs to be extended even further. iOS 11 should give third-party app developers the same feature. iPad users need to be able to work with two Word documents at the same time, for example.
iOS 10 changes the look of the Notification Center, and makes it more functional too.
Dragging from the top of the screen brings down a list of recent notifications that now appear in grey boxes with rounded corners. Dragging each of these to the left allows the user to either clear the notification or jump to the application that sent it. A small X button can be used to clear all notifications at once.
From the Recent Notifications page, dragging the screen to the right brings up two columns of widgets. These can be a thumbnail view of the calendar, weather reports, and similar snippets of information.
An Edit button at the bottom of the left column opens the controls of which settings are displayed, and in which column, and in what order.
Apple made significant changes to the way people use their tablets before they are even unlocked. First off, Slide to Open has been removed, and just pressing the Home button has taken its place. This simplifies the process considerably, especially as everyone should already be touching this button so their fingerprint can be scanned to unlock the computer.
Before the iPad is unlocked, iOS 10 can show users their newest notifications. They can also respond to these, by dragging the notification to the right. A whole conversation can take place in Messages without ever unlocking the tablet.
Dragging down from the top of the Lock Screen brings up a list of other recent notifications. Dragging to the right on the Lock Screen gives quick access to the same widgets displayed in the Notification Center.
Anyone who wants to keep private their notifications and the information displayed by these widgets should turn this feature off by going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. This is especially important because otherwise anyone can respond to incoming text messages without unlocking the tablet.
Bad news: No current iPad has the motion-sensing chip necessary for Raise To Wake, so it’s only users of recent iPhone models that don’t have push the Power button to activate their devices.
Dragging a finger up from the bottom of the screen still opens a set of controls for toggling WiFi, Bluetooth, etc., but this has received a facelift with iOS 10. It’s now split over two screens so everything is less crowded.
The main screen has the controls for various wireless functions, the backlight, as well as links to the camera and Clock app. Sweeping the finger to the left moves to a second screen that’s focused on audio.
The Notes application has been gradually improving in recent iOS versions, and has now acquired collaboration capabilities. Users can notify another person that a note has been shared with them, and then they can both see and make changes. Apple suggests using this for simple jobs, like a family sharing a grocery list, not for a team collaborating on a patent filing.
Possibly the most important change in iOS 10 for iPhone users is the improvements to the Messages app. Although instant messaging is done primarily on a phone, that doesn’t mean tablet users should overlook it. By turning on Settings > iMessage, conversations happening on a iPhone can also be displayed on an iPad. The larger screen and keyboard make longer conversations easier.
Apple added all kinds of fun features to iMessage, like bubble effects which cause texts to swell up, fall onto the screen with a bang, and more. Messages can be handwritten, or moving images can be inserted into conversations like really big emojis. These look better on a tablet than they do on a phone, even an iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple has tried to keep iOS simple, even to the point of leaving out features it doesn’t consider necessary. This is why this operating system debuted on the original iPhone without a central file system accessible to users. But what was the right decision in 2007 has since become a serious limitation. iOS 10 is intended to be used by businesspeople on tablets as powerful as laptops, and they need to be able to easily view and manage their files. Last year’s iCloud Drive was a step in the right direction, but iOS 10 should have taken it much further.
There’s another missing feature that’s forcing buyers toward Windows-based alternatives: the new iPad Pro series is being positioned as laptop alternatives, and most people aren’t yet accustomed to controlling this type of computer with a just a touchscreen. Apple recognized this when it released its Smart Keyboard, and it’s time to take the next step and add a trackpad to this accessory, as well as support for it to iOS. It would be a step backward–a touchscreen is better than a mouse–but it would increase iPad sales.
Plenty of people have been asking for a removable memory card slot in iPad and iPhone for almost a decade, and at this point it’s clear Apple isn’t ever going to add one. Fortunately, many accessory makers offer very good alternatives, allowing iOS tablets to access microSD cards and flash drives. There are very good alternatives from SanDisk, Lexar, Leef, and more.
Split-screen support in Safari is probably the best feature for iPad users, but just about all of the new features in iOS 10 are useful, and others are fun. Some oft requested changes are still missing, though.
even so, people are wondering when they should install this onto their tablet. We have been testing the official release version on an iPad Pro since it debuted, and so far have encountered no significant problems. Apple’s new strategy of allowing anyone who’s curious to install iOS betas appears to have resulted in a final release version that’s more stable than iOS 9 was when it debuted.
That said, there have been a few small bobbles. Anyone feeling very cautious might wait for Apple to introduce iOS 10.1.