Apple has released the public beta version of its upcoming iOS 10 mobile operating system, making it available for Apple users to try out and explore its new features.
The iOS 10 Beta was launched as part of the company's public beta program, which gives users the opportunity to "test-drive" upcoming software releases and provide their input. Also released was the public beta version of macOS Sierra, the upcoming operating system for Apple Mac computers. Developer-only beta versions of both operating systems were previously released in June. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the availability of the public beta in a July 8 email reply to eWEEK.
Any Apple user with a valid Apple ID can participate at no charge in the public beta program, according to the company. Because it is beta software and not a final release, Apple recommends that users only install beta versions on noncritical devices in case there are problems with the software. The company also recommends that beta software users back up their Mac machines using Time Machine and their iOS devices with iTunes before installing beta software.
"We strongly recommend installing on a secondary system or device, or on a secondary partition on your Mac," the company says in its FAQ post about public beta releases.
Both the macOS and iOS public betas include built-in Feedback Assistant apps, which can be used by participants to report issues that arise.
In June, Apple announced the upcoming iOS 10 and macOS Sierra operating systems at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
The iOS 10 operating system will get a host of improvements and updates to many of the included apps, including Messages, Maps, News and more.
Also included will be an all-new user interface for its year-old Apple Music streaming service and some key innovations for its Photos app, including the use of artificial intelligence to accurately search for photos by topic.
The Apple Music redesign includes a design that Apple expects will be easier for users to navigate as they search for music. The Library, For You, Browse and Radio tabs inside Apple Music have been redesigned for ease of use, while a new Search tab has been added to make it easier to find music. Also new is the addition of visible lyrics when listening in Apple Music.
The changes are aimed at helping Apple further increase the user base of its Apple Music subscription service, which now has 15 million users. The original user interface had received complaints that it was hard to navigate and not user-friendly.
Apple's Photos app in iOS 10 is getting advanced search tools to make it easier for avid digital photographers to make their way through their images when they have thousands and thousands of photos to peruse for just the right shot. The new search capabilities use artificial intelligence to scour images and identify them based on search terms chosen by users. For example, a user could search for beach photos, taxi photos, dog photos or photos of horses to display images of those subjects. In addition, the search capabilities will be able to find images using facial recognition and scene recognition, based on searches such as a person's name or terms such as beaches, cities or farms.
Also included in the new photo app capabilities is a feature called "Memories," which scans a user's photos and videos and automatically organizes them into collections of memories that include old, forgotten images of people, places and things. Another new feature coming to iOS 10 is Memory Movie, which will automatically edit the images into a movie with theme music, titles and cinematic transitions, according to Apple.
The iOS 10 operating system will be available as a free upgrade to Apple users in the fall.
Earlier in July, Apple announced that it is adding an organ donor sign-up option to the Health app in iOS 10 on iPhones to encourage more people to sign up as organ, eye and tissue donors.
The new capabilities will be included in iOS 10 under an agreement with nonprofit Donate Life America, which will add registered donors to the National Donate Life Registry, which matches donors with individuals who are awaiting organ, eye or tissue transplants.
The Apple Health app on the iPhone, which debuted in 2014, gives users a wide range of health and fitness data all in one place, including Medical ID, which makes critical health information available in case of emergency to first responders and is accessible from the iPhone lock screen. Medical ID can display categories like medical conditions, allergies, medications, blood type and emergency contacts.
Another feature that could make its way into iOS 10 is a find-your-car parking lot helper that was revealed in June. The apparent feature wasn't brought up by Apple executives and developers as they outlined the coming highlights of iOS 10 during the opening keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, but was touted by an Apple developer who announced it through social media.