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What iOS 10 can tell us about the new iPhone

Michael Simon | June 24, 2016
The next iPhone will ship with iOS 10—and everything we know about iOS 10 today can give us hints about the phone before it's even unveiled.

There was a time when WWDC belonged to the iPhone. From the S cycle to the Retina display, FaceTime, and the App Store, some of the earliest iPhone breakthroughs were unveiled at Apple’s annual developer’s conference, with long stretches of keynote time devoted to specs and speed instead of software.

These days there’s a better chance of an Android app making an appearance on the big stage than a new iPhone. But even as WWDC has consciously shifted away from splashy hardware releases, the iPhone is still very much the star of the show. The iOS portion of the presentation is both the longest and the most significant, not just because it spotlights major changes and feature upgrades, but also in how it sets the tone and direction Apple’s next round of products will take.

And of course, at the end of that roadmap is the next iPhone. This year’s timing is a little trickier than most, with most reliable rumor sources are predicting another minor refresh before the next big redesign. But if you dig a little into the iOS 10 preview, you can find some pretty big clues as to what’s in the pipeline.

1. The home-button is short-lived

The biggest impediment to a radical change to the iPhone is our dependence on the home button. Aside from shaving off a few millimeters in any direction, there’s isn’t too much Apple can do in the way of design innovation; as long as it stays below the screen, future iPhones aren’t going to deviate from the current size and shape.

ios10 lock screen cropped Apple

Slide to Unlock is already gone in iOS 10. Is the Home button next?

But iOS 10 looks to be moving beyond the home button. All throughout the system you’ll find shortcuts designed to eliminate the need to actually open apps and, consequently, continuously press the button to return to the home screen. And with features like raise to wake and rich notifications on the lock screen, our button presses should be dramatically reduced in iOS 10.

There are already rumors floating around that Apple is looking to embed Touch ID into the screen, and last year’s introduction of 3D Touch seemed to hint that Apple is considering ife beyond the button. But iOS 10 offers up the strongest evidence yet that the next big iPhone revamp will be missing its most iconic feature.

2. OLED is the future

Anyone who owns an Apple Watch knows the beauty of OLED screens. With the deepest possible blacks (thanks to its advanced backlight-less technology that keeps black pixels off rather than simply turning them opaque), OLED screens can save both eye strain and battery life simply by dimming the colors of the interface.

 

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