Why it matters to you
After months of anticipation, the newest version of Apple’s iOS operating system — iOS 10.3 — is finally here. In tow with the upgrade is Find My AirPods, a new filesystem, CarPlay improvements, and more.
Here is what you can expect.
Find My AirPods
One of the most significant additions is Find My AirPods, a feature which makes tracking down a pair of Apple’s wireless AirPod earbuds easier than ever.
Unlike Find My iPhone, which uses a missing handset’s GPS, Find my AirPods by querying the device to which your AirPods were last paired (if they were connected to a Mac, for instance, it will request the computer’s location). It will use that to log the earbuds’ location and serve up the info in the Find My iPhone app.
A new file system
The new version of iOS boasts an entirely new file system: Apple File System (APFS). Announced at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference in 2016, it is designed to scale across devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and more.
Apple File System replaces the 31-year-old hierarchical file system (HFS) for iOS devices — a file system originally designed for floppy and hard disks. It packs better encryption, efficient compression, and a native screenshot feature that can restore files on a Mac or iOS device.
More: Apple’s Find My AirPods features makes it nearly impossible to lose your ‘buds
APFS is also designed to be low latency, which should translate to improved read and write speeds. At WWDC last year, Apple showed how APFS saved time on a file copy compared to HFS.
Thanks to the way APFS calculates available storage, some users might see a slight bump in available storage.
Verizon iCloud calling, Apple ID, and CarPlay improvements
If you’re on Verizon, you will be happy to hear that iOS 10.3 supports iCloud calling features. Once you have installed the update, you will be able to make and receive voice calls on your Mac, iPad, iPod touch, and even Apple Watch.
In the Settings app, there is a new section for Apple ID profiles. You will see your contact information, security settings, payment information, app Store settings, Family Sharing settings, and more on a single page. You will also see every Apple device where you are signed in.
More: When iOS 10.3 ships, developers will gain ability to respond to app Store reviews
CarPlay users get an improved interface. Now, they will see three of the most recent apps in a dock aligned with the left-hand side of the screen — previously, CarPlay users had to return to the home screen to switch applications.
That is not all that’s in tow with iOS 10.3. A new section at the top of the iCloud settings page makes it easier to see how your storage space is being used. A new weather layer in Apple’s Maps apps shows the local forecast. Transition animations have been spruced and sped up. And a podcast widget helps keep track of new and existing subscriptions.
The new version of iOS is rolling to supported iPhones (iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 5S, and iPhone 5C), iPads (iPad Pro 12.9-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 3), iPod touch (sixth generation), Apple TV, and Apple Watch devices gradually. But if you’re the impatient type, check our guide on how to install iOS 10.