Yesterday, Apple released an update to the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 10.3, and also updated the Apple Watch software to watchOS 3.2. (Operating systems for the Mac and Apple TV were also updated.) This is a minor update, but I encourage everyone to update their iPhones and iPads whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS because virtually every iOS update includes security enhancements. It is always good to give your iPhone and iPad the best protection possible against hackers. There are also a few new minor features, and here are the ones that I think that you may find useful.
Find My AirPods
If you own a set of Apple AirPods, you know that they are amazing, but also very tiny (when not in their case), and thus it is possible to lose them. You might take one out of your ear and put it on a kitchen table, only to have it knocked to the floor, and then you will have to search for it.
Yesterday, Apple updated the Find My iPhone app to add support for finding AirPods. There are two functions available. First, if your AirPods are in their case, the app can tell you the last location where the AirPods were connected to the iPhone. Thus, you might be looking all over your home for your AirPods, and this app can tell you that they are probably at your office.
Second, if one or both AirPods are out of the case and connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth, the app can play a chirping sound — it's not terribly loud, but loud enough that if you are quiet, you should be able to find them. Because the AirPod has to be close enough to the iPhone to have a Bluetooth connection, this only works if you are in the same room as an AirPod (or maybe just outside of the room). But in my above example where the AirPod rolls off of the table and on to the floor, that chirping noise might be enough to make help direct you to the corner of the room where the AirPod landed — or to between the seat cushions on the couch, or in the pocket of your jacket, etc.
This feature won't prevent you from losing your AirPods, but I can imagine many circumstances in which it might be just enough to save the day.
If you are fortunate enough to have a relatively new car that supports Apple CarPlay, there are now three icons on the left side of the screen that you can tap to quickly jump to the most recent media app (such as Music), the most recent communication app (such as the Messages app) and the most recent travel app (such as Maps). This saves you the trouble of first tapping the on-screen Home button to go to the Home Screen and then launching the app.
New File System
iOS 10.3 features a new file system called APFS. APFS has the potential to do all sorts of neat things such as making iOS more efficient and fullproof. Here is an article from Rene Ritchie of iMore on APFS if you want to learn about all of the geeky details. But you don't need to know any of that, and for now, you won't really notice any difference with the upgrade to APFS – other than the fact that this update takes longer to install because it is doing major brain surgery on your iPhone.
Settings — Apple ID
When you launch the Settings app, you'll see a new area at the top with your name and picture. Tap that to get into many of your personal settings such as your Apple ID, and a list of all devices associated with your Apple ID. There is some new information, but mostly it is nice to just have a central spot for all of this information.
If you tap in iCloud in this section, you'll get more detailed information on how your iCloud storage is being used.
Siri — Third Party Apps
In iOS 10.3, Siri can now has the ability to do more with third party apps. Payment apps can now let you use Siri to pay or to check the status of a payment. Ride-booking apps can let you use Siri to schedule a car. Automobile apps can let you use Siri to check the fuel level, ask if the car is locked, turn on lights, and activate the horn. I'm not sure if any third party apps are taking advantage of these new Siri features yet, but I'm sure that support will come soon.
There are lots of minor updates to Apple's apps including Mail, Safari, Podcasts, Calendar, Music, iTunes, Maps, Keynote, Pages and Numbers. Most of the changes look fairly minor or cosmetic to me, but there are some nice new features. For example, in the Music app, on the Now Playing screen, you can scroll to the bottom and see what is coming up next. In the Mail app, there are numerous slight interface changes. In the Maps app, you can now search for parked car to see the last place that you parked your car.
Also, third party apps now have the ability to change the icon for their app. You first need to give the app permission to change, but once you do so, the developer can let the app provide you with limited information just based upon the appearance of the app.
Apple Watch Theater Mode
Besides updating Siri on the Apple Watch to correlate to the Siri changes in iOS, there is only one big change to the Apple Watch, a new Theater Mode. Swipe up from the bottom of the clock screen and tap the icon with the two masks to turn on this mode. When it is on, your Apple Watch screen will not light up if you lift you wrist, thus preventing you from creating a distraction to others when you move your wrist during a movie or a play. You can still use the watch by tapping the screen or touching a button, but you are far less likely to accidentally turn the watch on. Also, this will silence your Apple Watch if it otherwise makes noise. (I always keep my Apple Watch on silent mode anyway.) Theater Mode is a simple improvement, but it is a great idea.