iOS 10 is the “biggest iOS update ever” - this is what's new

Autumn will see some big changes for Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system

iOS 10 is here for developers, and senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi described it as “the biggest iOS release ever for users” during last night's WWDC keynote. Highlights of the update include a major update to the Messages app, redesigned Maps, Photos and Music apps, and the ability for developers to access Siri, Apple’s intelligent assistant.

Possibly the biggest update is to Messages, which follows the current fashion for much richer and more expressive messaging applications. Messages includes animations, “invisible ink” that obscures a message until the recipient swipes over it and handwritten notes. The app will also suggest emoji to replace words, as well as rich links that let you see content inside the app, including being able to play media.

Messages also includes the ability for developers to create extensions such as stickers, send payments, schedule events and order goods or services within the app.

Maps has been redesigned, and has also been made open for further development. Apps can integrate elements like the ability to book tables at restaurants or cars. Photos includes a new feature called Memories, which scans your photos and videos and finds favourite and forgotten events, trips and people, and presents them in a collection. Memories also performs facial recognition to group together pictures by people – but unlike similar systems from Google, all recognition takes place on the devices rather than in the cloud, something Apple claims increases user privacy.

Perhaps the most long-awaited and widely predicted feature is the opening of Siri. Previously, Siri could only access data and services in Apple’s own apps. Now, developers will be able to build Siri-based interaction into their own applications.

One intriguing feature that wasn't given too much attention on the night was voicemail transcription, which saves you the trouble of actually listening to people's flustered messages filling your inbox. Using the speech-to-text technology, Apple will give you a summary of your messages. If that works well, it could be an extremely welcome addition.

Finally, something that wasn't formally announced, but developers testing iOS 10 have discovered: you can finally delete system apps you don't use. Goodbye Stocks! 

iOS 10 is available as a release for registered developers now, and will be delivered as a public beta in July, with a final release in autumn.

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