iOS 10 to make Apple the nerve centre of the future smart home

13 Jun 2016

Apple is moving closer to taking control of your home through the internet of things world and its latest mobile software, iOS 10.

In what it describes as its biggest-ever update to the iOS platform, Apple today (13 June) revealed how iOS 10 will make the company’s mobile devices the nerve centre of the IoT home, with the ability to use Siri to turn off all devices and heating when you go to bed at night.

In revealing iOS 10 at WWDC 2016, alongside the all-new MacOS Sierra, Apple revealed it is making a play for the internet of things (IoT) world in a big way, smartly and shrewdly.

A key new feature of HomeKit includes new categories like door locks and cameras and Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi revealed that, in the US and China, home builders are actually building HomeKit into new homes.

‘iOS 10 adds Siri intelligence into QuickType and Photos, automates your home with the new Home app and opens up Siri, Maps, Phone and Messages to developers — while increasing security and privacy with powerful technologies like Differential Privacy’

Future Human

But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. A new app called Home that will arrive on iOS 10 will allow users to use their iPhone or iPad to manage all of their IoT devices from thermostats to lights in one refined place.

Not only that, the app also works with Siri in a very customisable way. When you are going to bed at night, just say “Goodnight Siri” and Home will dim all the lights, turn off the thermostats and make sure all the security systems are armed.

Simply say “Good morning Siri” and Home will activate heating, warm up the shower and whatever else you want your devices to do, even start brewing coffee.

New lock screen capabilities

As well as Home, Federighi revealed how the user experience on iOS 10 is being changed, with new capabilities arriving in the lock screen, such as the ability to wake the screen and view notifications by simply raising the device without touching a button.

Users will be able to make expanded use of 3D touch, as well as access the control centre from the lock screen.

Not only that, but new swipe features provide access to the camera or music.

QuickType and Photos

He also revealed a new QuickType keyboard feature that makes intelligent suggestions into messaging either through voice with Siri or by touch.

A new feature in Photos will now put every photo you took on an interactive global map.

“The new iOS 10 takes advantage of advanced computer vision and deep learning techniques. It brings facial recognition to the iPhone and takes advantage of the advanced silicon in iOS devices to recognise objects and scenes. There are 11bn computations per photo to detect features in a photo such as horse, water, mountain. It also enables powerful searching on your device based on objects,” Federighi said.

“You can use advanced AI across your entire photo library to cluster photos and create Memories based on location and topics and more and edit them into Memories with music.”

Apple Maps is being opened up to developers

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, took to the stage to talk about new features in Maps, such as a new driving feature that pans and zooms to show traffic conditions ahead.

“Apple is opening up Maps to developers,” Cue proclaimed, pointing out how platforms like Zomato and Uber are already making it possible for users to find a restaurant, book a reservation, hire a car and pay for it all, all without leaving Maps.

Apple Music has also been given a major overhaul. Cue said that Apple Music now has 15m paid subscribers. “It’s the fastest-growing music service in its first year. The all-new Apple Music has been redesigned from the ground up.”

Apple News has also been given an overhaul to introduce entire subscriptions to news publications. Cue said that there are now 2,000 publications on Apple News with 60m monthly readers.

Phone and Messages

Phone and Messages have also been given a key overhaul. For example, in Phone, there is now a voicemail transcription service and an Extension API where third parties like TenCent can warn users of potential phone scams.

Another new feature is a collaboration with Cisco Spark to let users use their iPhone as a work phone in and out of the office.

New Message features on iOS 10 include handwritten bubbles, the ability to interact with apps like JibJab and a slew of new emojis and the ability to expand and reduce the size of replies with a touch of your finger.

Another key feature is Notes Collaboration where multiple people can work live in the same Note.

Federighi announced that Siri on iOS 10 will be open to developers through SiriKit.

He also revealed that, with iOS 10, Apple is using a technology called Differential Privacy to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. In iOS 10, this technology will help improve QuickType and emoji suggestions, Spotlight deep link suggestions and look-up hints in Notes.

“iOS 10 is our biggest release ever, with delightful new ways to express yourself in Messages, a native app for Home automation, and beautifully redesigned apps for Music, Maps, and News that are more intuitive and more powerful, making everything you love about your iPhone and iPad even better,” said Federighi.

“iOS 10 adds Siri intelligence into QuickType and Photos, automates your home with the new Home app and opens up Siri, Maps, Phone and Messages to developers — while increasing security and privacy with powerful technologies like Differential Privacy.”

Federighi said that from today developers will get access to a public preview with a public beta launching in July.

iOS 10 will then be available to all iOS users as a free upgrade this autumn.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years