You'll soon be able to get your hands on iOS 10. Apple announced the updated version of its mobile OS would be ready to download on September 13 — just threes days before the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus hit retail shelves.
First previewed by Apple this June and currently available as a public beta if you're brave enough to test it, iOS 10 promises a number of enhancements, highlighted by improvements to Siri and enhanced versions of the Messages, Photos, Music, Maps and News apps.
With iOS 10, Apple opens up Siri to third-party developers. During the iPhone 7 unveiling today (Sept. 7), Apple CEO Tim Cook specifically called out the ability to use Siri to book a ride from the Lyft ride-sharing service, though no other apps making use of Siri were mentioned. Apple does plan to use Siri's intelligence to improve the QuickType predictive typing feature, which can now suggest location and contact info when you're typing texts or emails.
Having used the public beta of iOS 10 since launch, I'm particularly impressed by the raise-to-wake feature, where your iPhone's screen comes to life as you pick up the phone. I also like the improved Today screen, which offers customizable widgets, so you can add things like sports scores, transit schedules and messages from VIPs to be visible with just a rightward swipe on the lockscreen.
Photos and Messages undergo the biggest changes for iOS's current apps. The former can now recognizes faces, and deep learning capabilities allow Photos to group together images shot in similar locations or that feature the same people and objects. The app's Memories feature automatically groups together related photos into albums, with suggestions for similar albums so that you can really dive into and explore your photo collection.
As for Messages, Apple has added bubble effects which add visual cues to your texts. (An apologetic text can appear in smaller type, for example.) Screen effects can make your text message explode into fireworks or rain down confetti. The app also gives you better access to photos and GIFs, and you can even add stickers from third party apps if you're so inclined. A more interesting integration with third-party apps will let you make mobile payments and order food from within Messages, though Apple didn't provide further details on that.
Third-party integration is also coming to Maps, where you'll be able to make restaurant reservations from within the app. Maps is also getting a modest redesign as is the Music app, to make it easier to navigate. News also has a new look that breaks stories up into top stories, trending articles and information on the topics you follow.
As for additions to iOS 10, look no further than the Home app, which will give you one place to access all those connected devices that use Apple's HomeKit standard. From the app, you can access scenarios that incorporate multiple devices like your lights, thermostats and smartlocks. Using Siri integration, you can give a command like "Good Night," and a Home app scenario will be able to lock your doors, dim your lights and lower your thermostat as you go to bed.
When the shipping version of iOS 10 arrives on Sept. 13, you'll need an iPhone 5 or later to use the updated OS. (iOS 10 will come included on the new iPhones Apple announced today.) iOS 10 also runs on the sixth-generation iPod Touch as well as every iPad Pro and iPad Air; you can also install the update on the fourth-generation iPad and the iPad mini 2 and later.