Chatbots can order flowers for you on Facebook. An intelligent assistant can schedule a meeting. Now, a new update for your iPhone will be packed with new automations to make our lives easier and maybe even reduce stress, and it won't cost you a cent when it debuts this fall (unless you need to get a new iPhone).

This week at a developer conference in California, Apple announced iOS 10 and focused mostly on how to make your phone "think differently" by thinking for you and saving time. There are some brilliant new updates, but here are the ones that impressed me the most and offer the most automation.

1. Maps will suggest better routes

This one is long overdue. With hints of the Waze app (now owned by Google), the Apple Maps app in iOS 10 will route you around traffic problems automatically. As a bonus, the app also knows which routes you typically prefer and suggests those. The app can look through your calendar as well and suggest routes to a meeting place.

2. Automated text responses

If you're texting with someone, new features related to Quick Type in the Messages app will suggest more than just the correct spelling. If someone asks "where are you?" the app can drop in a map to your current location. If someone asks when you can meet, the app will offer a time on your calendar for when you are available next.

3. Facial recognition for photos

The Photos app will now recognize people in photos and offer to group them for you. For example, the app can identify all family members from a trip to Florida. This feature has been on the Mac desktop for some time, but the great thing about having it on the iPhone (other than the fact that we now use smartphones as cameras) is that the processing is all local to the phone. This means it's more secure because the photos don't need to be processed in the cloud.

4. Your voicemails, transcribed

Even though it's been available in the Google Voice app for years, the iPhone can now transcribe your voicemails automatically and turn them into text. This saves time because you can scan through written text much faster than you can listen to a message.

5. Your phone knows when you lift it up

There's no angelic choir, but when you pick up your phone, you won't need to press a button to turn it on and the screen will shine. The accelerometer knows when you have raised the phone to look at it, so you can glance at notifications and then set the phone down to dim the screen again.

6. Siri can order an Uber

The voice assistant on the iPhone (and iPad) known as Siri is now much smarter. Apple is now allowing the assistant to work with third party apps. That means you can ask Siri to order an Uber, send a text in WhatsApp, or maybe order a pizza using the Domino's app.

7. Automated videos of events

Apple touted a new feature called Memories. It grabs video snippets and photos, identifies the places and people at an event, and stitches them into a highlight video--say, after a wedding or birthday party. The feature lets you tweak some settings to make the video longer or shorter, or to emphasize the action or quieter moments.

8. Smarter News app will automatically group stories

Another new automation has to do with the revamped News app. The current version tends to be a mishmash of sources and articles with no correlation, but the new version will create sections for news stories on the fly and group them so you can quickly scan through, say, only the latest business stories.

Published on: Jun 14, 2016
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