Welcome to iOS 10

Written by: on September 13, 2016

iOS 10 hits devices today! What should you be thinking about in order to make sure your app feels right at home on the updated platform?

There’s one core philosophy to keep in mind when developing for iOS 10:

“…place the power of your app wherever your users need it most.”

With iOS 10, Apple wants you to think outside the box. Your app isn’t just your app anymore—it’s an experience that stretches across the entire neighborhood of the system. And your users are going to expect to be able to interact with that experience in the way that’s most convenient for them.

So, what sorts of interactions should you provide in order to deliver a fantastic and engaging experience for your users, right where they need it?

Rich Notifications

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Deep-touching a notification now pops it into a detail view, providing additional information in a custom overlay built by you. This is a powerful tool for giving your user rich access to your app content, in a timely and relevant fashion, all without needing to unlock their phone or switch away from what they’re doing.

Push notifications are one of the star features offered by mobile platforms and they should already be part of your core experience. Users are going to expect to get even more out of notifications with iOS 10, so it’s critical that you provide detail views that provide meaningful glimpses into your app’s content, as well as relevant and useful quick actions that allow them to get things done simply and swiftly.

In addition to being able to provide rich content, iOS 10 enables updating existing push notifications which results in less clutter and a clearer signal to users. For insights into how to build a strategy around this new notifications feature, head on over to Push Notification Strategy in iOS 10, written by our CEO, Ben Reubenstein.

Introducing SiriKit

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Siri can talk to your app now! That’s provided your app fits into one of the supported domains. By integrating Siri into your app, you can provide a stellar and completely hands-free experience for your users on the move.

Think about users who are driving (interacting through CarPlay), exercising (speaking through their Apple Watch), or don’t have their phone in their hand (waking their phone up with “Hey Siri!”). Apple has done a lot of work across their platforms to cater to these types of users, and you’ll want to get your app in on the action too.

Be sure to check out Insights author Carl Edwards’s article Introducing SiriKit for a walkthrough in getting setup with SiriKit!

Today Widget Enhancements

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Today widgets debuted in iOS 8, but iOS 10 overhauls them and brings them right to the forefront of the iOS experience. Users can now access an app’s Today widget by either deep-touching its Home screen icon, or swiping left on their lock screen to reveal a list of all their widgets.

If your app doesn’t already have a Today widget, now is the perfect time to build one! The improved discoverability means that users will be able to find and interact with them far more easily than before. And with iOS 10’s focus on providing rich glimpses into your app’s content without actually needing to launch it, Today widgets will become a core method for users to quickly check out what’s going on right now.

And if your app already has a Today widget, you’ll still need to do a little extra work to enhance it and align it with the new changes in iOS 10!

Take a glance at Josh Woods’s piece on Today Widget Enhancements in iOS 10 for a developer’s guide to updating your today extensions to be shipshape and ready for iOS 10.

Home Screen Quick Actions

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Home screen quick actions let users initiate activities within your app by deep-touching its Home screen icon. These actions have been around since iOS 9, but you can expect to see even more users using them in iOS 10. Two important reasons why:

  1. Your Today widget now appears alongside your Home screen quick actions when its app icon is deep-touched. Since users will frequently deep-touch to check in on your Today widget, they’ll also see your Home screen quick actions more frequently than before.
  2. iOS 10 introduces more useful behaviors into the entire system through deep-touching, making it a more natural and common interaction for your users.

Home screen actions are the perfect way to springboard a user right into the activity they want to initiate within your app. Think about the most common and useful tasks they’ll want to complete, and build your shortcuts around them to make the experience as fast and fluid as possible!

Check out Apple’s documentation on Home Screen Quick Actions for more information.

iMessage Apps

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iMessage apps allow you to embed your content directly within iOS 10’s Messages app. This allows you to create a brand new user experience that’s uniquely conversational and collaborative. Think of iMessage apps as a great way to create multi-user interactions with your content, as well as a way to allow users to quickly and conveniently share that content between one another.

You can create an iMessage app as an extension to your full-fledged iOS app, or you can build a standalone iMessage app that lives solely in the iMessages App Store, with no iOS app attached. And sticker packs are an even easier way to give your users the ability to share your image content between one another within their conversations, without you needing to build an app or write any code!

Head over here for an overview, references, and sample code for iMessage apps provided by Apple.

Maps Extensions

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When a user views location-based data within your app, you can now share that location data with iOS 10. From there, the location will automatically show up as a suggestion within the Maps app.

This allows a user to view a location in your app, switch over to the Maps app, and snap right to the same location they were just viewing elsewhere. No more copying and pasting addresses to find a spot on the map! This is accomplished through the new mapItem property in NSUserActivity.

You can also integrate your content into the Maps app through a new set of extensions. Users can book rides and make reservations through the current iOS 10 feature set, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this suite expands even further in upcoming iOS releases.

iPad Multitasking

iPad multitasking hasn’t changed much since its introduction in iOS 9, but it’s just as relevant as ever with iOS 10. Apple has placed a great emphasis on getting users involved with your app from wherever they are in the system, and iPad’s split screen multitasking dovetails perfectly with those goals by allowing your app to share screen real estate with other tasks.

If you’ve built adaptive user interfaces with Autolayout and size classes, your app will already work pretty smoothly with iPad multitasking. From there, you can take additional advantage of some other neat multitasking features available, including picture-in-picture video playback.

Be sure to read Apple’s documentation on multitasking for iPad to see what form of multitasking presentation makes the most sense for your app.

Developer Friendly

In addition to great user-facing benefits, we see overall improvements in the development experience with the iOS 10 SDK and Xcode 8.

Xcode 8 ships with Swift 3, a massive language update that ushers in sweeping changes to the way we write Swift code. Ada Turner covers Swift’s makeover in Swift 3 and Declarative Programming, in which she investigates many of the radical new changes in Swift 3 and explores how the language incorporates paradigms of declarative—and even intentional—programming.

The iOS 10 SDK brings API improvements and completely new APIs from which we will craft our apps. A standout example of a much improved API is Core Data. Core Data has been given a significant overhaul that makes it much easier to setup, and more Swift compatible. Have a read through Sean Coleman’s Speech Recognition and Core Data where he demonstrates the new Core Data APIs and makes a mashup app with Speech Recognition.

Let’s Build Integrated Apps

iOS 10 offers developers unprecedented opportunities to integrate their apps into nearly every level of their users’ mobile experience. From providing rich interfaces directly embedded into notifications to the ability to activate features directly from Siri, developers can craft experiences that feel like natural parts of iOS 10.

To recap, here are five articles written by the Insights team that expand and elaborate on some of the most exciting features of iOS 10:

Chris Weathers

Chris Weathers

Chris is a lead software engineer at Possible Mobile, a high-end mobile development company. He has developed iOS apps since 2009. With a focus on front-end development, Chris has built the user interfaces for apps that have been featured on the App Store and garnered millions of downloads.
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