Anirudh RegidiMar 28, 2017 10:53:00 IST
Only Apple’s geekier compatriots will appreciate the iOS 10.3 update’s biggest new feature, APFS (Apple File System). For the less geeky, iOS 10.3 brings faster animations, places higher priority on account security and might free up slightly more space on your device.
A 31-year old file system is laid to rest
Let’s talk about the file system first. Apple has been using the aging HFS (Hierarchical File System) file system (now HFS+) on its Macs and iDevices (an Apple device running iOS) for over 30 years now. It’s an ancient file system that was designed for the era of floppy disks and hard drives. Support for modern SSDs and Apple’s “fusion drives” was only tacked on as needed.
APFS is optimised for flash storage and focuses on encryption.
We won’t bore you with details, but just know that APFS is designed to be faster, safer and more robust than the previous one. It also supports ‘Space Sharing’, a feature that allows logical volumes to resize on the fly. In other words, free space is better utilised by allocating it to the user or your OS as needed.
For an iDevice user, these changes will go unnoticed. The more advanced features of APFS, including faster cloning, snapshots and crash protection, will be more prominent on macOS devices. Sadly, macOS doesn’t get the official update just yet, though you can enable an experimental version in macOS Sierra using the diskutil command in Terminal.
The other major update is much more noticeable and deals with how your Apple ID is presented.
Apple ID settings are placed prominently at the top of the Settings menu and give you full access to your Apple ID -related settings, including your personal information, account security, payment methods, iCloud management and even connected devices and so on. It even shows if connected devices have Find My Device features enabled and gives you the option to remotely disconnect a device from your Apple ID.
Apple has been asking users to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) since the last couple of updates at least, but now, if you don’t enable it, you’ll get a notification in the Settings menu when you boot into iOS 10.3 for the first time. The notification will remain until you explicitly decline to enable 2FA or enable 2FA.
2FA will require a secondary authentication when you sign in with your Apple ID on any service or device. This can take the form of an SMS sent to your registered mobile number or even a code that’s thrown up on a connected Apple device.
Siri gets smarter
A number of updates to Siri have been introduced in 10.3, but most of these pertain to Apple Car Play and Home Kit support, both of which are a rarity in India. Notably, however, Siri can now follow cricket and give you scores and stats for the Indian Premiere League and International Cricket Council.
Siri also gets improved support for ride-sharing apps and can now schedule rides for you.
Faster animations, noisy AirPods, and more
The animations in iOS 10.3 are supposed to be slightly faster than they were in iOS 10.2.1. This will make your iDevice feel that little bit snappier, even if the update doesn’t actually make your device faster.
Apple is also looking to drop support for 32-bit applications in future updates to iOS. Developers have been warned to update their apps of course, but now, iOS 10.3 will show you apps the soon-to-be-incompatible apps on your device. This is good as you can look for replacements to your favourite, 32-bit apps or pester the developer to update.
A feature first seen in the beta version of iOS 10.3 is also here now. Find My AirPods will now tell you the last known location of your easy-to-lose AirPods. Note that this is the last place your AirPods connected to an iDevice rather than their last known location. The AirPods do not have in-built GPS.
To further improve your chances of finding the AirPods, Find My AirPods can be used to get your AirPods to play a loud noise.
Apple’s official release notes for iOS 10.3 are as follows:
iOS 10.3 introduces new features including the ability to locate AirPods using Find my iPhone and more ways to use Siri with payment, ride booking and automaker apps.
- Find My iPhone
- View the current or last known location of your AirPods
- Play a sound on one or both AirPods to help you find them
- Support for paying and checking status of bills with payment apps
- Support for scheduling with ride booking apps
- Support for checking car fuel level, lock status, turning on lights and activating horn with automaker apps
- Cricket sports scores and statistics for Indian Premier League and International Cricket Council
- Shortcuts in the status bar for easy access to last used apps
- Apple Music Now Playing screen gives access to Up Next and the currently playing song’s album
- Daily curated playlists and new music categories in Apple Music
Other improvements and fixes
- Rent once and watch your iTunes movies across your devices
- New Settings unified view for your Apple ID account information, settings and devices
- Hourly weather in Maps using 3D Touch on the displayed current temperature
- Support for searching “parked car" in Maps
- Calendar adds the ability to delete an unwanted invite and report it as junk
- Home app support to trigger scenes using accessories with switches and buttons
- Home app support for accessory battery level status
- Podcasts support for 3D Touch and Today widget to access recently updated shows
- Podcast shows or episodes are shareable to Messages with full playback support
- Fixes an issue that could prevent Maps from displaying your current location after resetting Location & Privacy
- VoiceOver stability improvements for Phone, Safari and Mail
Details of the security updates in iOS 10.3 are available here.