iOS 10.3 arrives with APFS support in tow


— 4:18 PM on March 27, 2017

Owners of iDevices can rejoice today, for there's a new iOS release out and about. The update is labeled version 10.3 and includes a host of minor enhancements along with a big-ticket technical feature: the introduction of APFS (Apple File System), the company's replacement for the venerable HFS+, in use since 1998 on Macs and iDevices. Just like with iOS 10, owners of iPhones from the 5 onwards, fourth-generation iPads or newer, iPad Mini 2s or newer, and sixth-generation iPod Touch devices can all install the update.

All iOS devices running version 10.3 will move over to APFS automatically. Be warned that due to this conversion, the update install time will take a bit longer than usual. Although there isn't a single big improvement stemming from using APFS, Apple probably wants to get the filesystem on the road to pave the way for future features and updates. For the technically-inclined, APFS offers plenty of modern filesystem features: disk encryption, metadata integrity checks, and improved resilience in the event of crashes. Perhaps more interestingly, APFS supports file clones (storing only the different data between two versions of the same file) and disk snapshots. The snapshot functionality in particular should prove a great boon for backup and maintenance tasks. Ars Technica has a great writeup on APFS if you want to go into the nitty-gritty.

On a more user-facing level, the Settings menu got a few touch-ups. The Apple ID login info is now centralized with the rest of iTunes and Family Sharing settings, along with a list of devices under that account. Many users are reporting that they have a little more free space after the update, though that can probably be ascribed to how APFS reports available storage. There's now a "find my AirPods" feature that will show you the last known location of your easy-to-lose earbuds and optionally play a sound on them to help track them down.

Siri got a handful of improvements to its third-party integrations. You should now be able to pay and check the status of bills with some payment apps, schedule rides with booking apps, and checking your CarPlay-compatible car's status and fire up its lights or horn. There are also a handful of other miscellaneous fixes. You can check out the release notes here.

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