iOS 10 Delivers Plenty of Useful Features That Aren't Just Eye Candy

NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple is billing iOS 10 as its biggest mobile operating system release, which could be true, but most people will be interested in only a few of the improvements.

iPhone 7 First Look 2

Installing a new operating system on your phone is always an adventure. There's always the question of whether it will work, and if it does, whether the improvements will be worth the effort.

In the case of Apple's iOS 10, there was real concern following reports on Sept. 13, the day the update was released, that iOS 10 would totally disable mobile devices, forcing users to clear their devices and reinstall iOS. So naturally, I decided to perform the update just a few hours before leaving the office on an extended business trip.

Fortunately, the update went smoothly, and my phone was fully functional once it was completed. The change to iOS 10 is immediately obvious because the phone wakes up as soon as you pick it up. It also displays your notifications in a new attractive format in which each notification has a header and a body.

You'll also be greeted by a message that says, "Press Home to Unlock." If your phone is set up to read your fingerprints, then you must physically press the Home button instead of simply touching it.

You'll also notice the three small dots just below those words, one of which looks a little like a tiny camera icon. What that means is that there are now three screens available when the phone is locked. Slide to the left, and you're in the camera app. Slide to the right, and you can see your notifications and widgets. You can even create additional widgets for some of the apps on the phone.

The interesting new features on iOS 10 include a number of photo editing capabilities which will be of interest to serious photographers but perhaps not so much to everyone else.

The iOS 10 photo app now supports a search function that can look for features in an image. So if you touch the search icon in the photos app and type "dog" you'll get photos you've taken of dogs. Of course it will also look at location tags and you can search those too. This feature doesn't only work with the new cameras in the iPhone 7. It works fine with photos taken with the cameras in earlier model iPhones.

One truly useful feature is the ability of the iOS 10 phone app to transcribe voicemail messages. If you press on the message in the voicemail screen, your phone will display the messages' transcribed contents.

In fact, iOS 10 has a number of other small but useful features like that. For example, you can set your phone so that if you're driving or using headphones, iOS will announce who's calling so you don't have to look at your phone.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...