HotHardware doesn’t usually cover point releases when it comes to smartphone operating systems like iOS, but iOS 10.3 is the exception. While many folks wouldn’t expect much more than security updates and bug fixes with a .x release, Apple is actually make a pretty big change with the introduction of the Apple File System (APFS).
You would expect for Apple to make such a big change going from iOS 10.x to iOS 11, but that isn’t the case with iOS 10.3. We first talked about APFS at length nearly a year ago, and it replaces HFS/HFS+, which is over 30 years old. APFS was specifically designed to take advantage of flash and solid-state drive (SSD) storage and it natively supports full disk encryption (likely to the ire of U.S. intelligence agencies).
Other features native to APFS include read-only Snapshots for more efficient system backups, copy-on-write, Space Sharing, and Fast Directory Resizing. The file system is also expected to lay the groundwork for Apple’s eventual efforts to make iOS a 64-bit app-only operating system. All signs currently point to that transition happening with iOS 11.
APFS is first being rolled out to the iPhone and the iPad first, and will eventually be incorporated into to watchOS, tvOS and macOS. And we should also note that you probably won’t see any major performance benefits from this upgrade immediately. It is more about future-proofing Apple’s family of operating systems.
Other updates included with iOS 10.3 aren’t nearly as game-changing. Find My AirPods is now incorporated into the operating system to help you recover your lost AirPods. Find My AirPods will give you the last known location when your AirPods were last connected to your iPhone. It can also play a sound to one or both AirPods to help you zero in on their location.
You can now pay and check the status of bills via payment apps with Siri (i.e. with PayPal), and can even integrate with supported vehicles to provide readouts on vehicle fuel level and door lock status. You can even turn on your vehicle’s lights of honk the horn if you desire.
Hourly weather updates can be invoked within Maps using 3D Touch, an Apple ID Profile can now be called up within Settings, and you now get a more detailed breakdown of how your iCloud storage is being used.
iOS 10.3 is available to download now either over-the-air or through iTunes for supported iPhones and iPads.