September 23, 2021

The next iOS will deeply change the iPhone, and you won’t even notice

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If you’re the type of person who immediately updates their iPhone to the latest version of iOS every time new software drops, here’s a friendly warning: Hold off a moment and back up the files on your device before the next one.

While that’s generally good advice, you’ll want to be extra sure to secure your files before blindly pulling the trigger on iOS 10.3.

Apple will introduce a brand new file system with the release, which is expected to drop near the end of this month, according to what developers with access to the beta told Business Insider. The new setup, called the Apple File System (APFS), will replace the old standby, HFS+, which has been used for iOS and other Apple operating systems since its introduction in 1998.

The new APFS will automatically convert the files on your iPhone to the new format when it’s implemented through the software update — but if there are any issues during the process, your old files could be lost for good, since the two systems are incompatible. You’ll be able to revert your files back to the old HFS+ format, but your data won’t be preserved along with the change.

Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment about the update.

APFS is optimized for Flash/SSD storage and focuses on encryption. These features are much more suited to modern computing demands than HFS+, which was engineered long before the iPhone was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye.

Apple pushing this type of software shift with an incremental update like iOS 10.3 is curious. Typically, one might expect this type of paradigm shift to come with a major new release. The next one of those, iOS 11, isn’t even expected to be announced until Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

Developers with the beta also reported last month that the system warned their old 32-bit apps won’t work on future versions of the iPhone. There’s no word on whether that could also be part of the 10.3 update.

iOS 10.3 will also likely come with new App Store policies, hidden iPad keyboards and, for all those sad single AirPod owners, the Find My AirPodtool.


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