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Apple has released iOS 10.3, and you may find yourself asking, “What makes it worth the update?” Turns out there are quite a few new features to make it worth your while.
There’s a new way to manage your Apple IDs all in one place, find my iPhone now includes support for AirPods, and there are new Siri and Carplay features. Safari has also had a small update, along with security and bug fixes.
Finally, this is the public debut of APFS. Wondering what all of that means? Let’s take a closer look at these changes.
All Your Apple IDs and Devices in One Place
You have always been able to keep separate accounts for iCloud and iTunes. However, managing each account has involved going between several menus on iOS. Now, iOS 10.3 consolidates your account settings into a single menu within settings.
When opening the Settings app, there is a new banner at the top with your name. Tap that to open a page that shows your iCloud, iTunes Store, and Family Sharing settings. After scrolling down, you see a list of devices you have registered to your iCloud account.
If you want to update the info on your account, tap through the first three entries on the list. The Name, Phone Numbers, Email menu holds your basic contact information. Also listed are your available email addresses for the Messages app.
The next entry is Password & Security, which lets you change your password or contact email. This menu also allows you to turn on 2-factor authentication, but hopefully you have already done that. Payment and Shipping covers your default credit card. If you have a shipping address on file with the Apple Store, it is listed here as well.
The next set of entries applies to your various accounts. The first entry is the iCloud account. Tap this to see a summary of your storage usage on iCloud Drive, as well as granular permissions for each app you use. The second entry is your iTunes account. Here you can turn on automatic downloads from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Stores. The third is Family Sharing where you can add and remove the family accounts you share.
These three entries previously existed as separate menus throughout the Settings app. It is not a significant change, but it is a nice touch to bring this account management into one place.
The next section consists of your devices tied to your iCloud account. You can click each one, and see if it has Find My Device activated. In fact, if you have lost a device, you can get straight to the Find My iPhone app (for devices with location services) to see its last logged location. If there is a connected device you already wiped, you can remove it from your account.
The entry for your current device allows you to turn these features on or off. Also, you can see cards you have paired with Apple Pay.
Where Did I Leave My Airpods?
Judging by the wait time to order a pair, AirPods are both popular and hard to get. So, the last thing you want is to lose one or both devices. iOS 10.3 has you covered there, adding them as an available device in Find My iPhone. Now, you can see the last place your phone connected to your Airpods on a map. If you cannot see them, it can play a tone. This feature works even if you lost only one Airpod.
Although most people do not yet have AirPods, it is nice to see that Apple is responding to user complaints about how easy it is to lose them. Hopefully, you are lucky enough to get your hands on some Airpods and can utilize this feature.
Ladies and Gentlemen: APFS
It is rare that we nerds get to drool over a new filesystem. Apple’s last filesystem, HFS+, has its roots back in the original Mac operating system. Though updated in the interim, it is designed for spinning disks on older hardware. The new file system, aptly named Apple File System, is built for modern storage needs.
The conversion to APFS is seamless during the upgrade to 10.3. Many of the things bolted on to HFS+ are integral to the design of APFS. Designed for large data sets and Flash Storage, Apple says the file system can handle up to 9 quintillion files and can handle advanced encryption.
There is an interesting way that the file system works with multiple versions of the same file. It uses clones and change-tracking to save space. Then, changes to the first file or the copy are saved as deltas. The files’ shared data is still stored as a single file, saving disk space.
For iOS most of the file systems’ advanced features are invisible. However, if you are looking for technical details, they are on Apple’s Developer Site.
What Else Has Changed?
There are many smaller changes in 10.3. Siri now has hooks for billing apps to let you make payments with the assistant. You can also ask Siri to order you a Lyft or Uber if you have the app installed. Cricket Fans can get scores from the Indian Premier League and International Cricket Council from Siri.
If there is another rash of Calendar spam for iCloud, there is a fix for it. You can delete the invite and report it as junk. Using 3D Touch in the Maps app gets you an hourly forecast for a location. Podcasts now has a today widget and support for 3D Touch, as well as support to share episodes via Messages. iOS now joins the desktop iTunes in supporting rentals across multiple devices.
There are a lot of smaller details that you can check out on Apple’s release notes. If the security fixes in this point update interest you, find that on this page. (Be sure to grab 10.3.1 as well to patch a Wi-Fi vulnerability.) Webkit got a little love for web developers in this update as well — you can see that on their blog.
Does the new ID management tell you that Apple is serious about iOS as the main computing platform? Is there a feature you are hoping for in the next iOS version?
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