iOS 11 is almost here! These are the software’s best new features ahead of its release date.
Now that Apple has confirmed the release date of the iPhone 8, it won’t be long until we get the full rollout of its iOS 11 software, which the new phone will run on from launch.
iOS 11 beta 7 rolled out to registered developers last month and came with a small number of tweaks, as well as updated versions of previously-seen tools. Many are minor and aesthetic including a new Apple Music icon in the Now Playing widget, Maps, App Store, and Reminders icons, a new AirPods animation, new splash pages for Photos and Auto-Brightness being moved to Display Accommodations in Accessibility. It follows similar design changes in iOS 11 beta 4 which saw the addition of new icons and logos for Safari, the Contacts app, and an updated Timer icon in the new Control Centre.
Overall, iOS 11 adds a slew of major new features for everyone – but also sees a new focus on iPad that, Apple clearly hopes, will elevate the tablet into a bigger league of productivity. Here is our pick of the best new iOS 11 features.
iOS 11 features
iOS 11: Camera
With the iPhone being the world’s most popular camera, it’s no surprise photography is front and centre of iOS 11. Portrait mode pictures using the iPhone 7 Plus will now use optical image stabilisation, True Tone flash and HDR, which should lead to significant improvements in portraiture. Live Photos gains the ability to loop or bounce scenes forwards and
Live Photos gains the ability to loop or bounce scenes forwards and backwards, and Apple is adding a new file format called High-Efficiency Image File Format to iOS 11, which reduces the size of images taken on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
iOS 11: Control Center
Apple has completely redesigned the Control Center in iOS 11 to make it more customisable to better suit your needs. In addition to the standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, media controls, brightness, volume, rotation lock, and AirPlay options, there are now 18 new controls.
- Accessibility Shortcuts
- Apple TV Remote
- Do Not Disturb While Driving
- Guided Access
- Low Power Mode
- Text Size
- Screen Recording
- Voice Memos
A number of these options now come with Force Touch menus by long-pressing and holding.
iOS 11: Siri
Siri is gaining both a minor visual update and new higher-quality voices in iOS 11, but there are also some improvements to SiriKit that will allow developers to more deeply integrate Siri into their apps. SiriKit has now been extended to new categories, such as to-do lists, notes, reminders, and banking, allowing developers to add Siri features.
In addition to sounding better, Siri will also be able to translate languages in iOS 11, and respond to texts when you can’t speak with the Text to Siri feature.
iOS 11: Messages
As well as some visual improvements such as a redesigned app drawer, at long last messages will be synced across devices. More importantly, Messages is gaining support for person-to-person payments using Apple Pay, allowing you to send and receive money easily.
iOS 11: Maps and cars
Apple Maps is gaining indoor mapping instructions in iOS 11, so you can now get completely lost both inside and outdoors. There’s also lane guidance to help avoid missing turns.
As an added safety feature, Maps now includes a new mode called Do Not Disturb While Driving, which can automatically detect when you’re driving a car, silence notifications, and optionally send out an auto-reply to anyone who texts you.
iOS 11: ARKit
One of the biggest announcements was ARKit, a new set of APIs for creating augmented reality applications. On stage, the company showed a very simple demo application that allows you to drop virtual objects such as a cup of coffee (complete with steam) on to a desk. When a virtual lamp was added, ARKit took care of shadows on other virtual objects automatically, making the scene much more realistic.
The highlight of the AR section was a demo by Peter Jackson’s new studio Wingnut AR, showing a complex scene created in Unity. This included a landscape with buildings, virtual people running around, and flying vehicles attacking the “town” – all rendered in AR, in real time. The company will be releasing “AR experiences” on iOS later this year. We’ve rounded up some of the best ARKit projects so far.
iOS 11: iPad tools
After the announcements about the new iPad Pro at last month’s event, Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi returned to the stage to show off iOS 11’s new features designed specifically for the tablet.
Front and centre of iOS 11 is a new customisable dock that’s capable of stretching the full width of the screen when in landscape orientation. Part of the dock is devoted to your most frequently used applications, and a redesigned app switcher works with the dock to allow you to drag and drop apps from the dock to either side of the screen. Swiping between workspaces lets you store and use different pairs of open applications at the same time.
At long last, iOS 11 includes a Files application that gives you much more powerful control over your file system, with integration for cloud services including iCloud Drive, Box, Dropbox and more. Files can be dragged and dropped around with new gestures, and the app includes a Recent tab that shows your most recently-used files no matter where they live.
Drag-and-drop support extends to moving text and graphics between applications, too. As you would expect, you can drag from one side of a split view to another in iOS 11 – but you can also drag between workspaces using multitouch gestures.
Support for Apple Pencil has also been massively improved, with a souped-up version of the Notes app with support for inline drawing – one of the biggest complaints about the current Notes. Users can also tap on the lockscreen with the Pencil to quickly open a Note in iOS 11.
iOS 11: Storage
In addition to telling you what types of data are consuming your iPhone’s memory, the iPhone Storage menu in the Settings app of iOS 11 will let you quickly and easily free up space. This app will show you suggestions for deleting old messages, images and files and reveal which apps you use the least, in case you want to uninstall them.
Elsewhere, the iOS 11 Storage menu lists the attachments you’ve downloaded from the web or emails, for example, so you can remove them in one go.
iOS 11 release date
iOS 11 will ship in the Autumn, although the exact launch date is yet to be announced and will likely depend on ironing out bugs found during the beta releases.
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