Apple’s slightly redesigned core apps, including Music and Maps, in the new iOS 10 are refreshing, and the revamped iMessage features are exciting to play with. But the operating system is also a productivity beast — especially when you pair it with a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.
We tend to think of digital productivity in terms of power: how many bells and whistles can an app really give us? More to the point, how many do we want before it all gets overwhelming?
A robust mobile app is great, especially when it mimics a desktop environment, but productivity can also be measured in time. Even though an app or product can do a lot, you probably don’t want to spend too long executing a task.
And iOS 10 suits those needs just fine. While quick-action responses to messages via the notifications menu was introduced in iOS 9, iOS 10 takes it a step further. Now we can 3D Touch a notification to open up a smaller preview window, which turns a quick response into a chat. If you need to have a full-blown conversation, the iMessage app is waiting for you.
Within iMessage, there are also apps. Currently, the iMessage App Store is mostly sticker packs and GIF keyboards, but by extending the platform, Apple is ushering in a new era of productivity.
We can send others money via Square Cash in iMessage, or quickly shoot them a card detailing the weather via Carrot Weather. As time rolls on, more apps will find reason to create similar experiences for iMessage, which could extend the entire iOS platform into messaging. Just think, you might be able to schedule an entire lunch date with a few iMessage apps and never dig into iOS proper.
Apps can also create custom widgets for the Today view in iOS 10, which can play media.
And all these small tweaks let you dip into tasks without opening an app. Apple knows apps are the backbone of your digital environment, but it’s a bit cumbersome to close a conversation, open Square Cash and send a friend money. Now, when someone says you owe them $20, you can just forward it along directly in iMessage.
Benefits for Developers
Newer iPhones (6S or 7) with 3D Touch take productivity a step further. A firm press on an app icon opens up a menu of options, which can range from sharing the app itself on social media to composing an email (depending on what type of app it is, of course).
Thanks to all of this, app developers can now create amazing, robust apps while still allowing users to access simpler tasks with ease. An powerful email app like Airmail may be a bit daunting, but using 3D Touch to compose and send an email makes most perfunctory tasks a breeze.
Apple also created a new chipset, the A10 Fusion, which seems custom-fit for productivity. A quad-core system-on-chip (SoC), the A10 Fusion reserves two “high efficiency” cores for tasks that don’t need a ton of processing power (the other two cores are “high performance” cores, which handle heavy lifting such as video processing or gaming). The A10 Fusion also allows for longer battery life thanks to those two high efficiency cores.
Apple is walking us into being more effective and efficient, too; more battery life available to do stuff, but less time and effort required to do finish boilerplate tasks like sending messages, email or scheduling meetings. Extensible apps and widgets make day-to-day tasks much simpler, too.
And it doesn’t stop there. In October, Apple will begin selling AirPods, a wireless iteration of the popular EarPods included with every iPhone. As you might expect, AirPods are meant for Apple devices, and come with Siri baked right in.
You can access Siri with just a tap, which leaves you with a hands-free way to navigate life while still remaining productive. And Apple is toiling behind the scenes to make Siri better, so we have to wonder what’s next.
Starting with iOS 10, developers have access to SiriKit, which lets Siri passively dip into apps and execute tasks when a user commands her to. It’s easy to envision a time when having Siri in your ear means she’ll proactively notify you when an event occurs that needs your attention, too. You might be bouncing around the house doing chores and listening to music when someone arrives at your front door. Your August Doorbell Cam sees them, but you don’t. Siri may tell you someone is at the front door, because the developers gave her access to monitor the app via SiriKit.
Similarly, Siri may (with your permission, of course) scan email or messages to see if someone is trying to schedule a meeting or has an urgent question.
iOS 10 — especially when paired with an iPhone 7 — is built for speed, efficiency and productivity. Already powerful, Siri’s inclusion with AirPods suggest the next step is voice-activated assistive task management, which has some natural convenience features when multi-tasking.
Soon, you may be able to say something as simple as “great, send them $20” when Siri lets you know a friend messaged you asking for money. By then, extensible apps you have to physically interact with will seem just as clumsy as standalone apps do today.