As an Apple fan, the annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is probably one of the most exciting technology events of the year. This year was no different, and I’m super excited about the next versions of iOS, watchOS, and macOS. Below are my first impressions of the new releases.
Despite my excitement, I swore not to jump on the beta bandwagon too soon and instead wait for the Public Beta versions, or even longer. But only a few days after Apple released the first beta version to developers, I couldn’t help but install it on my iPad Air 2. I don’t rely on my iPad for work so that the potential damage would be limited. Plus, Apple now supports upgrading iOS 9 to iOS 10 via Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, thus not requiring a complete restore.
iOS 10 Beta
To my surprise, iOS 10 Beta 1 was pretty stable, albeit sluggish. None of the apps I tried crashed and I was very impressed with the new features Apple added to Photos, including:
- Scene Recognition
- Face recognition
Those features would massively improve my current photo workflow as I could skip a lot of keywording and sorting photos into various albums. Also, I can probably stop creating those quarterly videos I do of the kids in Final Cut Pro X, and instead use Memories. Obviously, Photos doesn’t offer the flexibility I have with Final Cut Pro X and videos won’t look as “cool” but on the other hand, I don’t have to spend 2-3 hours to create a video from scratch.
Confident by the experience I made on the iPad, a few days later, I also installed iOS 10 Beta 1 on my iPhone 6S Plus. The experience there was pretty good too, considering it was the very first Beta. But I noticed that some apps wouldn’t work properly or crash on launch, including:
- Bank of America: Only the iPad version works
- Scanbot: Always crashes on launch (Fixed with the last update!)
- Facebook: Occasionally crashes on launch
- Blossom: Shows a blank screen (fixed with Beta 2)
- Up: My Jawbone UP2 band keeps disconnecting, requiring me to relink the band constantly
Apps that I didn’t have any issues with include:
- BMW Connected
- Day One
- Fly Delta
- Messenger (Facebook)
- Personal Cap
- PS Express
- Number Guru
iOS 10 Beta 2
The second Beta version of iOS 10 improved a lot of things, including overall performance and responsiveness of various UI elements. Unfortunately, the apps I mentioned above, still don’t work with the exception of Facebook, which doesn’t appear to be crashing anymore and Blossom, which no longer shows a blank screen.
New Features I Like in iOS 10
Here is a running list of features I like in iOS 10:
- Maps automatically remembers where I parked the car
- While navigating you can now move the map around to see where you’re going and what’s around
- You can now easily clear all recent notification using 3D Touch
- Raising the iPhone automatically wakes it
- You can now access the camera by swiping from the right side of the screen. While unlocked, you still have to swipe up and click on the camera icon
Activity & Workout
- For cycling workouts, the Activity app shows a map of the route you cycled. I hope they’ll add the same feature for running workouts
- You can now start a workout from your iPhone
- I like the ability to apply message filters. My Inbox doesn’t usually contain very many messages, but the feature comes in handy for my Archive mailbox
- Swiping actions now support moving messages into other mailboxes. That allows me to quickly move messages that my spam filter didn’t catch, into the “TrainSpam” mailbox.
watchOS 3 Beta
WatchOS 3 was the main driver behind my desire to upgrade to iOS 10, which is a requirement for watchOS 3. As I have written in my post about the Apple Watch release strategy, watchOS 3 makes the Apple Watch finally the device it should have been from the beginning.
Now that I have had watchOS 3 running on my Apple Watch, I can confirm that Apple has done an outstanding job making Apple Watch more responsive and ultimately more usable. I love the all-new Dock, with my ten favorite apps available at the push of the side button.
Stuff I Like in watchOS 3
- Responsiveness of apps
- The Workout app automatically pauses and resumes workouts (if enabled)
- More customizing options for Watch faces and the ability to easily switch face using a swipe gesture
Overall, watchOS 3 doesn’t have a ton of new features; it just makes the available ones finally usable.
Overall, macOS 10.12 Beta is pretty stable, especially since Beta 2. From a stability perspective, I wouldn’t hesitate to install it on my iMac if it wasn’t for a couple of apps that aren’t working yet, including:
Apple has made significant changes to the internals of its Mail app, and so most plugins won’t work without modification. The following plugins don’t work, and there are no beta versions available as of this writing:
- Mail Act-On
- Clip-o-Tron (OmniFocus)
SpamSieve does have a beta version available that works with Apple Mail 10 in macOS Sierra.
- Hazel: The first few tests were successful, but I noticed that not all rules work. One problem area I came across was filtering for “Content Creator.”
- ScanSnap: ScanSnap crashes when scanning to PDF. Workaround: ScanSnap Cloud (App Store)
- Annotate: My favorite screen shot and annotation app doesn’t work in macOS 12.10, and there is no beta version available yet. I contacted the developers, and they promised to let me know when a beta version becomes available.
Apps That Work
Below is a list of apps that I can confirm are working under macOS Sierra:
- Little Snitch (Beta version)
- Dropbox (including Finder integration)
- iStat Mini
- iA Writer
- Microsoft Office
What I like About macOS Sierra
- Siri: I haven’t had a chance to use Siri much yet, but I like the idea of being able to create Reminders or reply to Messages, without having to pull out my iPhone first or use my Apple Watch.
- Photos: The new features I mentioned above have the potential to save me a lot of time with my photos workflow.
- iCloud Drive/CloudKit Sharing: See below for more on that.
During the WWDC keynote, Apple announced the ability to invite others to view or edit notes in the Notes app. Albeit a cool feature, it’s nothing groundbreaking. However, in one of the more technical sessions, they announced CloudKit Sharing, which enables 3rd-party developers to include the same sharing capabilities in their apps. Apple also confirmed that they are using the very same CloudKit framework for native apps, such as Finder, Photos, etc. In macOS Sierra, Apple also enabled synchronizing your Desktop and Documents folders using iCloud Drive.
Why is all that so exciting? Because it seems like Apple is finally going to enable true sharing and collaboration capabilities across the board, potentially replacing the need for Dropbox and other cloud service providers. Going forward, they may also enable shared Photo Libraries, which would simplify my weekly photos workflow of importing photos from my wife’s Photos Library. I do that so we can consolidate all of our kid’s photos into a single library.
I have also noticed, that Apple finally fixed the issue of bandwidth consumption both the Photos app and iCloud Drive have been plagued with.
iOS 10, watchOS 3 and macOS 10.12 are great releases that offer a solid combination of improvements to existing features and new exciting capabilities that help to make your life easier. As of this writing, 4 of my 5 devices run beta versions. By the time this post is released, my iMac will probably run macOS Sierra as well. I’ll do a fresh install on an external SSD in the next couple of days and monitor how ScanSnap and Hazel will behave with each new beta version.
If you are interested in installing a Public Beta version of iOS or macOS (there isn’t a Public Beta for watchOS), you can sign up for it here.
What are your favorite new features of iOS, watchOS, and macOS? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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