Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Releases iOS 10.3

Ryan Christoffel of MacStories on some of the highlights of this release:

If you own AirPods, there’s nothing you need to do to activate Find My AirPods. Simply visit the Find My iPhone app and you’ll see that AirPods are now listed among your other devices.


At the top of the Settings app in iOS 10.3 there is a new Apple ID profile menu. This new screen centralizes many important details about your Apple ID, including basic personal information and a listing of devices associated with your account. Another improvement in Settings is that iCloud storage is now visualized with a graph that shows how much data you’ve used, and what categories that data is divided into.

The biggest change in 10.3 is something you won’t even see: the update does an in-place file system switch to Apple’s custom APFS format. Ars Technica has previously covered the documented benefits of APFS, and it sounds like a more-than-robust replacement for HFS+ to help take Apple’s products into a cloud-based and encrypted future.

What’s most impressive is that this conversion is done in-place for what is, by far, Apple’s biggest device ecosystem. Over the next month, the number of devices running APFS will go from a relative handful earlier today to hundreds of millions.1

I noticed a couple of other improvements while running the 10.3 betas:

  • You can now love or dislike a topic in News by tapping the buttons to the right of the topic title.

  • At long last, there’s now a Live Photos album in Photos. Live Photos still aren’t identified in the thumbnail view, though, nor can you search for photos by type — Live Photo, Panorama, and so on. This seems like an arbitrary limitation; surely, the search engine in Photos should index photo types, camera models, and other metadata that gets created with every file.

  • You know how if you’re on a home screen that isn’t your first, and you press the home button, it will jump to the first home screen with an animation of all of your icons whizzing past? For as long as I can remember, that animation has always been super janky with a weird frame dropping hiccup in the middle of it. Every device I’ve had running every version of iOS since iPhone OS 1.1 has exhibited this bug.

    In 10.3, that animation is — wait for it — finally far smoother. It’s still not perfect — jumping from my fourth home screen to the first has some noticeable lag — but it is way nicer on both my iPhone 6S and second-generation iPad Mini.

Let me know if you find anything else of interest in 10.3 that I, or others, may have missed. It seems like a pretty big release, especially for a “point” update.

Update: Steve Troughton-Smith:

TIL 32-bit iOS devices don’t get APFS. The 64-bit train’s pulling away from the station…

I don’t anticipate any 32-bit device will support iOS 11.

Update: One more benefit to this update is that plenty of Twitter users are reporting a jump in available storage space after installing 10.3, with some reporting several gigabytes of additional space. It isn’t clear how much of this space is regained thanks to APFS — compared to, say, other improvements and optimizations — but it’s a welcome enhancement.

  1. Apple also released MacOS 10.12.4 and WatchOS 3.2 today. I’m not sure about the latter, but the former is not transitioning to APFS with today’s update. ↩︎