Reply Quickly to Messages on Your iPhone’s Lock Screen

Want a faster way to reply to a conversation in Messages? If you see a Messages notification on the Lock screen of your iPhone 6s or later, press and hold on it to expand it into an interactive box where you can reply without unlocking your iPhone or navigating into the Messages app. It’s perfect for those sporadic conversations where the iPhone goes back into your pocket or purse after each reply. (On an iPad or older iPhone, you’ll have to slide left on a Lock screen notification and unlock the device to open the Messages app.)

Reach Out and 3D Touch Something

Apple first unveiled 3D Touch in iOS 9 with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, giving users of those iPhones a new way of interacting with apps, but 3D Touch never really caught on. Now, with the release of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and broader support in iOS 10, 3D Touch is worth learning if you have one of the supported iPhones.

3D Touch works in two ways: “peek and pop” and “quick actions.” Apps use peek and pop to let you glance (peek) at an item by pressing down on it (not just a touch, but a press into the screen), and then jump to that item (pop) by pressing harder still. In Safari, for instance, you can preview a link by pressing it, and then either release to dismiss the preview or continue to load it in its own tab by pressing harder. Or move your finger up on the screen without letting go or pressing harder to get controls for opening the link, adding to your reading list, or copying the URL. This trick applies to links in other apps like Mail, Messages, and Notes, too.

You can also use peek and pop with email message summaries in Mail, headlines in News, thumbnails in Photos, people in Find My Friends, dates and events in Calendar, and even the previously taken photo box in Camera. Support for peek and pop in third-party apps isn’t as widespread as it is in Apple’s apps, but it’s still worth trying whenever you want to preview something.

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More interesting are quick actions, which present a menu of common actions when you press down on an app’s icon on the Home screen, or on various controls and other items throughout iOS. Home screen quick actions are great, since they let you kickstart an app into doing something with just a hard press on its icon. If the app has a widget, a 3D Touch press shows that as well.

For instance, using 3D Touch on the Phone app shows its widget, which gives you buttons to call people in your Favorites list, along with actions to view the most recent call, search for a contact, create a new contact, or view the most recent voicemail. The Clock app lets you start a timer or the stopwatch, or create an alarm. Messages quick actions can create a new message or open a recent conversation. Use 3D Touch on Safari’s icon and you can create a new tab or see your bookmarks or reading list. You can even press on a folder to rename it quickly.

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Quick actions and widgets are much more commonplace among third-party apps than peek and pop support, so be sure to try 3D Touch on all your favorite apps. If all you see is a Share item, the app has no quick actions or widget, but many apps provide both static actions that are always the same and dynamic actions that reflect your past usage.

iOS 10 brings 3D Touch to Control Center too. Press the Flashlight button to adjust the brightness of the light, the Timer button for some pre-canned times, the Calculator button to copy the last calculation result, or the Camera button to take a photo, slo-mo, video, or selfie.

On the Lock screen, press a Messages notification to expand it and reply directly from the notification. More notifications will become interactive in the future too. And in Notification Center, you can press a notification to expand it, or use 3D Touch on the X button for any day to reveal a Clear All Notifications option.

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It’s too bad that there’s no way to know in advance if an app supports quick actions or peek and pop, but as the number of iPhone users who can use 3D Touch increases, developers will incorporate 3D Touch capabilities into their apps more and more. So give it a try!

 

Widgets in iOS 10

Widgets—little utilities from installed apps that used to appear in Notification Center—have been around since iOS 8. But with iOS 10, they have broken free of Notification Center and set up shop in their own Widgets screen, making them more obvious and accessible.

On the iPhone and on iPads in portrait orientation, your widgets appear in a single column. However, flip your iPad to landscape orientation and you see two columns so that you can use the horizontal space on the screen more effectively. The iPad may also lead each column with the current weather conditions and date.

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In iOS 10, you bring up the Widgets screen by swiping right on the Lock screen or the main Home screen. What appears there depends on what apps you have installed and which widgets are active. Scroll to the very bottom of the list and tap the Edit button to show the Add Widgets screen, which iOS divides into two sections: widgets to show and widgets you can add.

  • To remove a widget from the Widgets screen, tap the red button to the left of its name, and then tap Remove.
  • To add an available widget to the Widgets screen, tap the green plus button to the left of its name.
  • To organize the Widgets screen so your preferred widgets appear at the top, drag the handles at the right of each widget’s name to re-order the list.

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Be sure to tap Done when you’re finished to save your changes. Once your Widgets screen is showing the desired widgets, you just have to train yourself to become accustomed to using it. We recommend putting a widget whose information you care deeply about at the top—perhaps Apple News headlines or your favorite weather app—so you’ll be rewarded for each visit.

Although it’s impossible to know which of your third-party apps might provide a widget that’s compelling for you, many of Apple’s apps provide useful widgets. You might particularly like:

  • Find Friends, which shows the locations of your Find My Friends people
  • Mail, which provides buttons to show messages from each of your VIPs
  • Maps Destinations, which displays locations for upcoming events; tap one to get directions
  • News, which shows you Top Stories
  • Reminders, which lists your to-dos, and you can even mark them done from here
  • Up Next, which displays the next event on your calendar

Note that some widgets, like Activity (for Apple Watch users) and Find Friends, show their data only when the iOS device is unlocked. So if you’ve entered the Widgets screen from the Lock screen, you must use Touch ID or enter your passcode to get them to work—for Touch ID users, that means merely resting your finger on the Home button.

Regardless of what device you have, if you’re using iOS 10, take a few minutes to play with the Widgets screen. It makes accessing widgets so much easier, and you’ll be surprised at how many of your apps come with widgets that can make your iOS life just a little better.

Revert to iOS 9’s Home Button Behavior

iOS 10 changes how you use the Home button to unlock your iOS device from the Lock screen. Previously, you could unlock it by merely resting your finger on the Home button when the Lock screen was showing. In iOS 10, however, you must press the Home button and then use Touch ID to unlock the device. With newer iPad and iPhone models, Touch ID reads your fingerprint so quickly that you can usually press the Home button instead of just resting your finger on it. However, this new behavior may be disconcerting with early Touch ID-enabled devices, such as the iPhone 5s, which take longer to read a fingerprint. To revert to the previous behavior, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Home Button and enable Rest Finger to Open.

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