Given the upgrade cycle I choose to follow with my phone, this past week saw me get a new iPhone (7), which has a new version of iOS (10), as well as a new Apple Watch (Series II) which itself has a new version of watchOS (3).
That’s a lot of new and whilst a lot of the improvements across all of these devices and operating systems are evolutionary in nature, the increments are telling enough for me to notice and adapt my usage accordingly. Thankfully none of the changes are negative and are probably best categorised as ‘positive disruption’.
iPhone 7 and iOS 10
I’d been running iOS 10 betas on my iPhone 6 which wasn’t kind to the battery at all but got me a sense of how I’d be using the new iPhone 7. It’s important to note that the iPhone 6 does not have 3D Touch so, for people like me, the iPhone 7 brings that into play as well.
There are a lot of software changes in iOS10, I like the new Notifications/Control Centre changes, there are parts of the new Messages features that will be useful (and others which will be distracting), and the extension of Siri is already showing up with apps like Airmail (my email client of choice) hooking in to the API.
The screen itself is noticeably better as is the new camera, a welcome boost of hardware and software capabilities in one go.
Evolution aside, the biggest two changes for me are the aforementioned 3D Touch, which I’m still adapting my muscle memory too, and the new ‘non-clicky’ Home button.
The latter, plus the change to the unlocking process, is the biggest change I’ve noticed. With the button movement replaced by ‘haptic’ taps it’s a little odd at first if you aren’t used to it, but as I’ve had similar tapping on my wrist via the Apple Watch it wasn’t that big an adjustment, and I’d warrant users of the new MacBook which uses this mechanism in the touchpad won’t take long to adjust either.
Add in the new Raise to Wake feature – lift your iPhone to see the screen (yes I know Android has done this since forever) – and you end up with a subtle new way of using your iPhone without unlocking it, meaning I can check notifications or switch tracks from the lock screen.
Top tip: don’t register all of your fingerprints for TouchID and you can use a non-registered finger to tap the home button, turning on the screen without unlocking the phone.
I was also glad to see Apple bringing their Upgrade Programme to the UK (despite some day one teething troubles getting signed up), it’ll be interesting to see if I take advantage and upgrade to the iPhone 7s (?) next year.
OK, this was a bit of an indulgence, but given the age of my old Apple Watch, and the improved water proofing, battery life, and processor speed, it felt like an easy to justify one. I wear my Apple Watch every day and probably interact with it more than my iPhone these days.
Add in the new watchOS 3 – which is a VAST improvement in many areas – and I feel more than justified. Bye bye Glances (and scribbles, and favourite contacts), hello ‘dock’ which is everything that should’ve been in the original OS but wasn’t. I couldn’t agree more with the articles I’ve read that state that what Apple did with the watch was the right thing. Release it, react to how people actually use it, and build from there (to those people complaining that you still need a phone to take calls on your Watch, how often do you actually do that? I’m not so sure that feature will ever be added to the Watch, I think Series III will be thinner before it adds in more features like that).
All in all, the Apple Watch now feels like part of the same ecosystem as my iPhone rather than the ugly sibling in the corner. It’s fast, responsive, and I’ve already started pushing more things to it (rather than limiting it as much as I could in the past because it was cumbersome and slow).
I’ve also upgraded my iPad Pro to iOS 10 so all of my Apple devices are bang up to date (well my MacBook Air (now safely gathering dust) remains on the last beta of macOS but I hardly use it these days).
In summary, I’m still a happy Apple fan boy. Yes, they aren’t as customisable, yes there are things I wish I could adjust but by and large there is nothing that gets in my way, and everything that is on my wishlist is very much down to my own personal taste. Equally, I like that every iOS update brings changes to my working/usage habits, I like that I’m challenged to tweak things, learn new things and adjust my usage a little.
Oh yeah, and no headphone jack on iPhone 7? So what? I’ve been using Bluetooth headphones for the past year anyway smug grin.