Apple iOS 10.3: Should You Upgrade?

By on Mar 29, 2017 in Mobility Strategy | 0 comments

It has taken seven betas, but has finally released iOS 10.3. The new update has caused some scares, but also brings essential optimisation. So should you upgrade? 

Here’s everything you need to know…

Image credit: Apple

Apple iOS 10.3 is finally here.

Who Is iOS 10.3 For?

iOS 10.3 targets all iOS 10 compatible devices: the iPhone 5 or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini 2 or later, iPad Pro range and the 6th generation iPod touch or later.

You should be prompted to upgrade to iOS 10.3 automatically, but if that hasn’t happened it can be triggered manually by going to Settings General Software Update.

iOS updates differ in size depending on your device. In the case of iOS 10.3 it is a medium-sized update weighing in at up to 600MB, and it’s an important one.   

Image credit: Apple

Apple 10.3 has been released for iPhones, iPads and iPod touch.

The Deal Breakers

iOS 10.3 will break any jailbroken devices. In recent years jailbreaking teams’ game of cat and mouse has been decidedly one sided with Apple consistently retaining the upper hand and iOS upgrades making jailbreaks less important than they once were. That said, if you value having a jailbroken device, steer clear.

Secondly there is an ongoing argument at Apple’s official Support Communities over whether iOS 10.3 (and its previous betas) truly fixes the 30% Battery Bug which Apple claimed it had addressed in iOS 10.2.1 (which in truth was only a partial success).

The argument from those who are skeptical is that Apple has changed how it reports the battery percentage (an ‘artificial meter’), rather than fixing the underlying cause. Whether this is true remains to be seen, but the fact is – fixed or not – this should not stop users upgrading if they are already affected.

Aside from this there are some isolated reports in Apple Support Communities about failed updates (impatience can actually be a factor) and Bluetooth connectivity issues (1, 2) but nothing has shown any sign of wide scale problems. I’ll update should that change.

So What Do You Get?

Being a ‘major point upgrade’ iOS 10.3 is a feature rich update, the highlights of which include:

  • Find My iPhone – track lost AirPods by requesting a sound is played from them (you’ll need a relatively quiet environment, but it works well)


Find My AirPods arrives in iOS 10.3.

  • Siri – support for paying and checking bill status in payment apps, scheduling in ride booking apps, access the functionality of car maker’s apps
  • CarPlay – shortcuts in the status bar for easy access to recent apps, Apple Music Now Playing gives access to Up Next and the currently playing song’s album, daily curated playlists and new music categories in Apple Music
  • iTunes – movie rentals (finally!)
  • Settings – a unified view for Apple ID account information, settings and devices V
  • Maps – Hourly weather using 3D Touch on the displayed current temperature, searching for your ‘parked car’
  • Calendar – delete unwanted invites and report them as junk (vital given this has been a method for spam)
  • Home – support for ‘scenes’ using accessories with switches and buttons, battery level status in accessories
  • Podcasts – support for 3D Touch and Today widget to access recently updated shows, episodes now shareable to Messages with playback support

In addition to this the biggest news is the introduction of the Apple File System (APFS). APFS replaces the ancient HFS+ (launched back in 1998) which itself is based on HFS (launched in 1985!). APFS is more efficient so it saves space (expect 1-7GB depending on the storage size of your device), enables better backups, is more secure and optimised for solid state storage – which was what all iOS devices use.

An Apple engineer also revealed that Apple has quietly optimised system animations to make navigation feel faster.

Meanwhile on the security side of things iOS 10.3 is now actively warning users if they have 32-bit apps installed. iOS moved to 64-bit several years ago and now Apple is hunting down outdated apps which have yet to make the change. In addition to this around 100 vulnerabilities have been fixed, including a high profile Safari flaw which allowed hackers to stop users browsing the web and demand payment through an endless stream of pop-ups.

A full list of Apple’s numerous security fixes in iOS 10.3 can be viewed here.

Brad Moon

iOS 10.3 ushers in a new, potentially more stable, era with the arrival of APFS and it saves space too as this before/after shot shows

Apple iOS 10.3 Install Verdict: Upgrade

iOS 10.3 is one of the most impressive updates Apple has released in some time. Switching the entire file system of around one billion compatible devices is a huge task and all signs are it has gone smoothly, while also saving users space and improving performance. No doubt there is also room for further optimisation with time.

In addition to this the new features are useful, practical and in some cases (iTunes movie rentals) overdue. A cloud still hangs over Apple’s lack of transparency regarding the 30% Bug and affected users are still reporting it isn’t a perfect cure (and are doubtful about the methods Apple has employed to ‘fix’ it), but overall iOS 10.3 is a very good step forward for all compatible iPhones, iPads and iPod touch.

The Road Ahead

In a curious move Apple has announced iOS 10.3.2 is now in beta testing with no sign of iOS 10.3.1. Perhaps iOS 10.3.1 will be a minor update/bug fix and Apple feels there is no need to test it first, but I don’t remember out of sequence testing occurring before.

Making things more curious is iOS 10.3.2 Beta 1 suggests it is also focused on fixes not features. A quick release for iOS 10.3.1 could clear this up, but for now it’s odd.

Meanwhile, despite still being six months away, speculation is already growing about iOS 11 and some vague claims are floating around that it brings upgrades to Siri. I’d take these with a pinch of salt at this stage and simply hope that the seamless introduction of APFS in iOS 10.3 marks a return to the rock solid updates we saw prior to iOS 7.

No longer using a file system based on a core which is 32 years old has to be a good sign…


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