What iOS 10 hints at for iPhone 7

Every year we get to see the new version of iOS twice. Once at WWDC where we see all the big new features, and a second time in the fall where we get to see the new iPhone-specific features. Sometimes the former even hints at the latter. For example, size-classes at WWDC hinting at the big 4.7-inch and bigger 5.5-inch iPhones in 2014. So, what, if anything, could iOS 10 hint at when it comes to this year's iPhone 7?

More like NOled

For years OLED (organic light-emitting diode), and its variant, AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode) had too many compromises — hello pentile! — for Apple to consider using them at iPhone scale. Last year, though, the Apple Watch launched with an LG OLED display and an energy-saving dark mode to match.

Apple didn't announce a dark mode for iOS 10 — no matter how often we've extolled its virtue — though fragments of one have been found in the beta for a variety of apps.

The advantage of OLED technology is that it doesn't require an LED backlight the way LCD does, and can be more energy efficient, especially when combined with a dark mode. So, those fragments could portend a switch to AMOLED this fall, and the unveiling of a system-wide dark mode to complement it. But there are a few gotchas:

  • 3D Touch on the iPhones 6s currently uses the LED backlight to detect pressure. So, if the iPhone switches to OLED, Apple would likely have to find some other way to enable pressure sensitivity.
  • iPhone 7 is rumored to be based on Apple's iPhone 6 platform, which generally means it'll use the same general types of technology. (Which is why, for example iPhone SE, built on the iPhone 5 platform, doesn't have 3D Touch.)
  • Other display technologies, like Quantum Dot are maturing quickly, so OLED could be a next step, or a skipped step, depending on how roadmaps line up.

Wider and truer

iOS 10, like all of Apples platform updates, supports wide gamut color. That means DCI-P3 currently, and rec 2020 in the future.

Both the 2015 iMac with 5K Retina display and 2016 iPad Pro with 9.7-inch display can show DCI-P3 color gamut. It's hard to describe the benefits of wider color gamut and higher dynamic range (HDR).

It's hard to describe the advantage, but when you show people 1080p HDR, it often looks better than 4K. So think about it that way.

We're not all the way there yet with Apple devices, but we're making progress. With the system-wide support, it's not hard to imagine the same DCI-P3 color space coming to iPhone 7.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro also has True Tone, which uses ambient light sensors to detect and match the color temperature of the area you're in. If you've ever seen a photo where a white device looks yellow and the screen looks blue, this helps eliminate that.

In other words, it makes the screen more like paper. It looks and works great on the iPad, so getting it on the iPhone would likewise be great.

Getting RAW

Up until now, we've only had processed image support on the iPhone. Take a picture, the Apple A-series processor goes to work, and gives you something that's generally really great. But in JPG form, which contains much less data than what comes off the camera sensor, and limits editing options.

iOS 10 adds RAW support, which is something higher-end camera owners have enjoyed for years. With it, you get almost all the data captured by the sensor and so, much greater editing options.

It'll be available to all devices that have the most recent 12 megapixel camera, which includes the iPhones 6s, iPhone SE, and 9.7-inch iPad Pro. And, of course, it'll include future devices. Devices that could capture even more data and make even better use of RAW.

Due to file sizes and workflows, RAW probably won't be a mainstream feature any time soon, but getting DSLR-quality photos from an iPhone has been a long-term goal, and we could well get the next step towards that goal.

Several more things

Apple typically shows off new versions of iOS twice: First in the summer, covering all the new software features, and again in the fall, covering new hardware-specific features. In the past, those have included Siri, Touch ID, and 3D Touch, as well as a variety of new camera options and modes.

It's always possible we'll get more hints as the iOS 10 betas continue coming out, and the public beta launches this July. We'll only ever know for sure, of course, when Apple announces the new iPhone this fall.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • OLED is completely overrated and I hope they don't switch to that. Even the best OLED panels still look a bit "cartoonish". They have the inherent problem of having burn in eventually (depending on your usage). And I have yet to use an OLED device where the screen didn't suck the life out of the phone. The power efficiency claims by OLED proponents are either marketing gimmicks or don't actually translate down to battery efficiency.
  • Not sure the last time you've used an OLED screen, but the latest from Samsung are far from "sucking the life out of the phone"
  • Sorry, my comment was a little much on the hyperbole scale. But I've had them all, including the S7. If the screen is on and being used with the S7, the battery is draining at a relatively rapid pace. The only reason the S7's battery life is better than the S6 (which was a battery life disaster) is because of the larger battery - well, I guess a little help from the OS (6.0) while idling. That's not all OLED's fault, it's also due to the incredibly high resolution. But my point was that I've simply never seen any battery advantages with any OLED panels over similarly spec'd LCD counterparts.
  • OLED consumes less power than LED, not more.
  • Well, technically that's true and false. OLED consumes less with darker colors, especially if the screen is displaying mostly black (hence the watchOS interface), but it will consume more if the screen is displaying lighter colors like white
  • Even better. I welcome any excuse for Apple to ditch that glaring white background theme.
  • They're very efficient, power wise, and they're also quite color accurate these days if calibrated properly at the factory. But my collegue's Galaxy S6 Edge has the magnifying class icon (from Google Maps, I think) permanently burned into his screen. That's one issue I think LED and OLED have not quite sorted yet.
  • I have yet to see any examples of screen burn-in on an iOS device.
  • Let me also add the white inconsistencies (mainly pink shading) that still come in OLED panels, yes even the best like the S7/S7 Edge.
  • You must have had a bum unit. I don't see any of the negatives you experienced or express in your opinion.
  • I've had multiple on a couple of different carriers (and unlocked). Not all of the things I mentioned are deal killers. The S7 is not a bad phone - it's an awesome phone. But it has its flaws. The whole point of my original comment wasn't to bash the S7, but rather to communicate that OLED is not all its cracked up to be and based on my experience with multiple devices over the years (I test most flagships as a part of my work), it is not superior to LCD.
  • Certainly entitled to your opinion. In mine, OLED when done right is best in class right now. Nothing on the market comes close.
  • That's good to know. I didn't know that.
  • Burn in, burn in, burn in. OLED's look great. Until they have burn in that cannot be fixed.
    And once you notice the burn in on your screen, you cant un-see it either.
    As seen personally on multiple Samsung devices, and unfortunately on my Lumia devices as well.
  • Would never happen anymore under normal use at least with Samsung. Demo phones certainly. Day to day usage not going to happen unless the user intentionally tries to get burn-in.
  • of course. I must be lying. AMOLED burns in, whether you want it to or not. and a heck of a lot easier than LED. Galaxy S4/S5 / Lumia 1020 / Nokia E7. All had bad screen burn. And realy, WHY would I try intentionally get screen burn?
  • Not sure what you're doing with your phones to cause this but as noted below even lcd will do the same with the same image stagnant on your display. At that point it's **** near intentional.
  • I could give you proof and you still wouldn't believe it.
    Go back to your dream world where this doesn't happen to normal users.
  • Yeah burn in is not a real issue. Yes it can happen, but it also can and does happen to iPhones. Ask anyone who has been an uber driver for more than a couple months. We all have had iPhone 6's and iPhone 5's with a permanent status bar on them.
  • I personally have never experienced it with LED displays, only OLED.
  • I think this article has missed the most important hint that iOS 10 has delivered to us: Apple has removed interface elements that usually were stretching from one edge to the other of the screen. Look at notifications, Notification Center, today widgets, control center, even the camera shortcut on the LockScreen. All these elements were whether removed (in the case of the camera shortcut) or made round, to no more stretching to the edges of the screen. What does that mean: next year iPhone will indeed get this "edge to edge display" that covers the entire front of the device. For that kind of screen, it's not visually appealing to get notifications or control center getting deformed with the curve of the screen.
  • I don't know. I think it looks better on a phone with a bezel also. I think it's a design decision. I think they started this effect back with the 3D Touch events. And they are going to continue doing it because it will unify the effects all over the OS.
  • What does iOS 10 hint for iPad? Sent from the iMore App
  • For that, you'll have to wait for iOS 10.2 or 10.3
  • My iPhones have all had screen burn in, so that doesn't worry me. OLED simply looks better because of the contrast and really has made strides in color accuracy and gamut. It doesn't take long to find some in depth write ups about the advantages to using OLED and AMOLED displays on Anandtech and another's. I am over the excuses made for Apple, we just want the better stuff! Stop giving us these sub par LCD displays! I am ready for a sweet OLED panel from Apple. Omg it would be wonderful.
  • Fwiw, I've never experienced burn in on an iPhone display. There have been other problems - yellowing, dead pixels, dark band on top or bottom, all mostly with the 5/5s series - but never burn in, and I've driven and ridden a lot with the phone running a mapping app. My colleague’s Galaxy S6 Edge however, had that magnifying glass icon from Google Maps burned into his screen after 3 months or ownership, and recently another friend has also been complaining of burn in on his Nexus 6P. This is why we don't yet see OLED on most laptops. Samsung had this Galaxy Tab Pro model with an OLED screen, and it's got this AMOLED Settings tab in Windows Display Settings that basically admits to burn in, advising you to enable some sort of Adaptive Mode (which turns out to be a screensaver, 1990's all over again) to preserve the screen.
  • This is exactly what happens on iPhones. I drove for Uber for a year and got screen burn in on the iPhone 6, 6S Plus, Nexus5X, and Nexus 6P. All in the same places too. 3 of the 4 displays are LCD. Burn in happens on all displays. It didn't happen faster or slower on any of them either.