We’ve been playing around with iOS 10 for some time now, and Apple’s latest mobile software release has given us enough reasons to get excited, as well as some hidden surprises that are total game-changers. If you want to experience iOS 10, you can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program. Just make sure to back up first and be aware that since this is beta, you’re bound to run into some bugs. Once you’re signed up and have installed the iOS 10 public beta, here are the first 10 things you should do.
1. Customize your widgets
iOS 10 has a screen full of widgets that you can access by sliding right from the Home screen, or in the Today view of Notification Center (which you still access by sliding down from the top). Apps like Weather and Calendar are clear shoe-ins for a widget, but there are also other less-obvious third-party choices, like Spring and VSCO.
To see all the apps that you’ve installed with a widget counterpart, tap “Edit” at the bottom of the widget page. You’ll see a list of all the available widgets. If you have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, you can also use 3D Touch to add a widget from each app icon.
2. Send a visual message
Apple spent a lot of time updating iMessage and the Messages app in iOS 10. Emoji are three times bigger and web links show up as rich media. But that’s just the start. Your messages can now come with a visual punch. Get started by typing your message and the pressing the blue up-arrow on the right of the text field. You will then get to choose from bubble effects like Invisible Ink or full-screen effects like fireworks to assure your message won’t be ignored.
These effects can be seen by iMessage users on macOS Sierra as well as iOS 10. Your green-bubble friends will get regular text messages by SMS, as always.
3. Find your best selfie
In addition to Memories, a new feature that stitches together photos and videos into themed montages, the Photos app now has facial recognition. You can search your camera roll for specific friends–or even for yourself!–to find the perfect selfies. The Albums tab also has a new People section so you can easily see get all those mugshots in one place.
For your privacy, all of this facial recognition happens on-device using the iPhone’s internal power. This means that Apple does not cross-references faces with photos on other iPhones.
4. Hide native apps
With iOS 10, you won’t ever have to see Stocks on your home screen ever again. Apple’s latest release gives you the option to remove native app icons. You’re not uninstalling the app, however, just removing the Home screen launcher. Apple has pointed out that a native app’s main functionalities (and storage size) remain even if it has been removed from the Home screen, so that the rest of iOS doesn’t crash.
Apple Music has integrated song lyrics, so now you know can karaoke to “Bohemian Rhapsody” without looking away from your iPhone. When listening to a specific song, simply pull up to reveal the lyrics module above the Up Next section. Here you can expand or hide the full lyrics. Unfortunately, Apple has not gotten the rights to display song lyrics from all the music publishers, so we still don’t know what Rihanna is singing about in her recent hit, “Work.”
6. Ask Siri to use third-party apps
Siri in iOS 10 has finally been opened to developers, so you can use voice commands to request an Uber or send a message via WhatsApp. Just launch Siri as per usual and make sure you say the third-party app in your command. Initially, Siri has only been intended to function with six types of apps, but we’re certain Apple will expand the options over time.
7. Optimize music storage
This one is a big life-changer if you own a 16GB iPhone. The new iOS 10 will automatically let you know which downloaded song files are taking way too much space and remove them for you whenever you start getting low on storage. Go to Settings > Music > Optimize Storage to enable this feature. Here you’ll also be able to choose the minimum storage you want allocated to music downloads, from 4GB (or 800 songs) to 32GB (about 6,400 songs).
8. Set your bedtime
If you have trouble getting up in the morning, Bedtime is a new tab in the Clock app that will encourage you to get a better night’s sleep. You can choose at what time you want to wake up and pick how many hours of sleep you need to get a bedtime reminder. The feature then keeps track of your sleep activity so that you can be consistent and develop a fulfilling sleep schedule.
9. Become an organ donor
According to Donate Life America, over 120,000 people in the U.S. are in need of an organ transplant that could save their lives. That’s why Apple has integrated organ donations into the Health app. When you first launch Health, you will be asked whether you are already an organ donor or if you want to sign up to the National Donate Life Registry. You can sign up later by tapping on your Medical ID tab. And know that your donor information is not sent to Apple.
10. Record a lip sync
It may sound silly, but before iOS 10 it was impossible to take photos during a dance party. Now, the music won’t automatically pause every time you launch the Camera app. Recording lip sync battles has never been this easy.
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read ouraffiliate link policyfor more details.
Oscar writes about iOS, mobile culture and digital music. He also hosts 'The iPhone Show' from Macworld's San Francisco HQ.