iOS 10.3 Beta Announcements

Even though I won’t risk putting my own primary devices through the program, I always get excited when a new iOS is released to developers. I came home from work today to see the announcement the beta versions iOS 10.3, and even though I haven’t seen it hands-on, I do have opinions from afar.

Last year, iOS 9.3 added more features to the operating system, including the blue light filter known as Night Shift, additional 3D Touch options, the ability to lock items in the Notes app, and multiple features that focused on the iPad. When 9.3 came out, many Apple pundits wondered if the x.3 release of iOS would become the heftiest update of the year from then forward, and so far, that assumption appears to be correct.

While iOS 9.3 gave users features that appealed to standard use cases, 10.3 is substantially geekier. For most users, the features of 10.3 will do little in terms of excitement, but for hardcore Apple users, there is a lot to follow.

A few weeks ago, Apple made headlines as it ushered a “Find My AirPods” app out of the App Store. Though many figured that the app was booted because of unauthorized use of Apple’s copyrighted images, it appears to be a situation similar to f.lux’s denial to the App Store last year as Apple moved towards announcing inclusion of Night Shift, similar to f.lux’s signature blue light filter, into the operating system.

While I don’t use AirPods, this seems like it could be a great utility for those who do. I’m interested in how the tech works to detect the AirPods. If the W1 chip is used in this processed, I wonder if the same feature could be used to detect other W1-enabled headsets, such as the PowerBeats 3 or Beats Solo3.

The inclusion of iCloud analytics is a timely feature that make Apple’s storage service less muddy. The release of macOS Sierra brought with it, to some infamy,purgeable storage, which deletes files that are stored on iCloud from the device to make more room. For many stalwart Mac users, this moved proved to be uncomfortable, as some worried about accessing files that were moved the cloud without their knowledge in a place without hospitable WiFi. iCloud’s paltry 5 GB of storage space, which can easily be quickly overcome with iPhone backups, also was a cause for concern with items being added to the service.

The iCloud analytics in iOS 10.3 allow for more granular controls of iCloud storage that was previously more difficult to find. The new visualized breakdown of storage usage makes it more clear as to what is being stored on the iCloud, a welcome change from the occasional guesswork that came with the service.

The geekiest thing of all is the inclusion of the new Apple File System in iOS. Everyone–myself included–figured when the new file structure was announced at WWDC last June that it would arrive with iOS 11 in the fall. Despite this expectation, the new file system will be present in iOS 10.3. For most common iOS users, this means little to nothing, but to more tech savvy users, the change is big news.

The Apple File System will likely spread to the Mac at some point, but for now, iOS’s inclusion comes as a surprise. My only concern with this implementation is its effect on battery performance immediately after the update. Generally when a device is set up for the first time, the battery suffers as Apple’s Spotlight functionality indexes all of the files on the device. With a whole new file structure being used for the first time, I worry that the battery life may struggle more than it would on other x.x releases. This could be a moot point, however, if the Apple File System eases the indexing process, in which case the feature would be without problems for most users.

While there are elements to 10.3 I haven’t discussed, the absence of others is more noteworthy, perhaps. For the past month or so, insiders teased something called “Theatre Mode,” which was supposedly indicated with a popcorn icon in Control Center. It was rumored to be a sort of dark mode, a long awaited feature for iOS. Despite the speculation, iOS 10 came with nothing of the sort, though the Apple Watch may be on its way to including a feature of the same name. The Apple community still thinks dark mode is on the horizon, but until then, I’ll be eagerly awaiting its release.

All in all, iOS 10.3 looks to be a solid release, and I am excited to see it in the flesh soon, likely some time in March by my reckoning. It may not be as full-featured as 2016’s iOS 9.3, but it still shows Apple mobile operating system moving in a positive direction.



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