I've made good on my promise to install the iOS 10 public beta. Aside from having to download a configuration profile to my device, the process felt just like any other major iOS update of the past few years: a lot of patient waiting through two excruciatingly bright progress bar screens. I was prepared for a few setup screens (because of one of the worst additions to the OS X update process, even for point revisions), but instead I was dumped straight into Springboard, where I said the same thing I have after other iOS updates: "Hang on, what's different?"
On my first Springboard page, the answer was nothing except the Home app, which — for unknown reasons — had been slotted fifth from the top, far left. I began to poke and prod and immediately rediscovered some changes, like the replacement of the Spotlight/Siri search page with a widget view and the new media and home panes in Control Center. I opened up Messages and saw a couple giant-size emoji. And then I couldn't remember what else I was supposed to be impressed by.
This is a double-edged sword. If people like me who follow Apple very closely can't remember what a beta of iOS has to offer without external assistance, how much of an impact will the new features have? But if my true reaction is "everything seems to be working as usual", that's wonderful for the average user who taps "Update" the very first time their phone prompts them to, because they won't be overly put out by the changes (no mass panic like with the iOS 7 update). And I presume there will be an on-device tour in the final build, much like the iOS 10 preview page on Apple's website.
During the beta period I'll be carefully studying that Apple page, as well as the in-depth writeups of the private betas done by sites like iMore and MacStories. I've already recorded my first bug report, and I'll keep doing my part — although I wish there was an easy way to tell if I'm creating a lengthy writeup for a known issue. But I'm sure there will be entire features that go undiscovered, for days, weeks, or even well past the final release. That's just the complexity of iOS in it's maturity. The best I can do to keep up is to get a head start, and with the public beta, Apple is letting me.