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(Update) iOS 10.3 has been released.

(Update 11/04/2017): Apple has now stopped signing iOS 10.3 and below, meaning users looking to downgrade or restore firmware will only be able to go to iOS 10.3.1 or later.

(Update 28/03/2017): iOS 10.3 has now been released. To update, users must go to Settings > General > Software Update.

Recommendation: The 10.3 update features Apple's new file system, APFS. All individuals planning on upgrading to iOS version 10.3 should strongly consider backing up all of their data as there is a larger than usual chance of data corruption.

(Update 20/03/2017): The seventh, and likely the last, iOS 10.3 beta has been released. The update focuses on final security and bug patches before the stable release.

(Update 14/03/2017): The sixth beta for iOS 10.3 has been released. Once again, it focuses on refining the existing features and doesn’t include anything new. We are now nearing end of the development cycle for iOS 10.3 and a stable release can be expected soon – maybe even next week.

(Update 10/03/2017): Tech analysts warn users to back up their files before upgrading to iOS 10.3, as some have experienced issues during the update process. The latest version of iOS automatically converts all files on the device to Apple's latest APFS file system format, replacing the outdated HFS+ format. If files on the device become corrupted during the conversion, it is possible for users to permanently lose their data. Currently, if an Apple device is upgraded to APFS and there is an error in the process, reverting to an older version of iOS using the HFS+ file system will require formatting the internal memory.

We advise users to back up their devices to iCloud, iTunes or any third party backup software solution before proceeding with the upgrade.

(Update 09/03/2017): After the fourth beta at the end of February, iOS 10.3 has been pushed to the fifth beta. It seems like there aren’t many differences, compared to the previous beta build, apart from some small vulnerability patches.

(Update 28/02/2017): iOS 10.3 has been published to its fourth beta stage of development. This beta includes the new "Find My AirPods" feature. Along with this, WatchOS 3.2's fourth beta, allowing for a new theater mode to be tested, and macOS 10.12.4's fourth beta, bringing Night Shift mode to Mac, have been released for developers.

(Update 23/02/2017): Official stats show that iOS 10 has now been adopted by 79% of apple's mobile devices. The remaining 19% comprises of 16% of users running iOS 9 and 5% on earlier versions. The stats cumulatively include all devices running iOS, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The adoption for iOS 9 at the same time last year was only 75%, which suggests the adoption rate of iOS 10 benefits from a slight increase. Analysts suggest the adoption rates also benefit from the high sales of the iPhone 7, which comes with iOS 10 pre-installed. 

(Update 21/02/2017): iOS 10.3 beta 3 has now been released to developers, exactly two weeks after beta 2, suggesting fortnightly updates to beta developers until full release.

(Update 26/01/2017): iOS 10.3 is now available in beta. We are now aware of the features that will be available. Unfortunately, the highly-anticipated ‘Theatre Mode’ will not create a new, darker UI. Instead, the feature will work with the Apple Watch to provide a better experience for users when watching movies.

There is also an interesting new ‘Find my AirPods’ feature, integrated within the ‘Find my iPhone’ app. It will allow users to check the last location they connected their smartphone to the AirPods in an attempt to stop the backlash that Apple faced over lost earphones. In addition, there will be a floating keyboard for iPads. iPad users will be able to drag a small keyboard anywhere across the screen; it will be roughly the size of a regular iPhone keyboard.

Finally, iOS 10.3 will bring a new file system. Apple aims to replace the outdated HFS+ with APFS (Apple File System), which is supposed to have better optimisation and improved encryption.

The stable version is expected to be available some time next month.

Apple are currently working on the third instalment of iOS 10. iOS 10.3 is expected to be available in beta on January 10th. By the time Apple releases a stable version, iOS 10.3 will have a new feature – namely Theatre Mode.

Theatre Mode will be accessible through the control centre, sporting a popcorn-shaped icon. Allegedly, Apple were looking to include the feature in the initial release of iOS 10; however, after that failed to materialise, the company will look to introduce it in v10.3. Rumours suggest that Theatre Mode will introduce a new, darker theme, across the whole UI. Additionally, it may borrow features from the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode.

Other features will be revealed when iOS 10.3 is placed in beta.


(article originally written 03/01/2017, latest update 28/03/2017)

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 April 2017
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Sebastian Marcinkiewicz

Journalist and technology enthusiast specialising in smartphones and online security.

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