At Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote addresss, the Cupertino giant announced a number of new updates to its tvOS, watchOS, macOS before moving on to its biggest operating system – iOS. Apple announced iOS 11, its next big operating system for the iPhone and iPad, promising to bring a whole new user experience.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, took to the stage to unveil iOS 11 which brings a new UI to some key applications on the iPhone and iPad. You get a redesigned app drawer to quickly access apps and stickers in the Messages app. Apple has also finally brought iCloud integration for Messages which will now sync your messages across your Apple devices. So, you’ll be able to see all your messages on the iPhone and the iPad and syncing is also improved so that if you delete a message within the Messages app, it will delete that message across all of your devices.
Apple Pay also gets person to person payment and integration into iMessage. There is also a new Apple Pay Cash account, which is where users will receive money from other users. This can be used for further payments, or be transferred to a bank account.
One of the most important features with Apple’s iOS operating system is Siri, the company’s voice-based virtual assistant which has long been due to get an overhaul. At WWDC 2017, Apple announced some improvements to Siri, which now gets a a new voice thanks to deep learning to make it sound more natural. There’s a new visual interface too and Siri can now translate as well. Additionally, Apple is also opening SiriKit to developers to use Siri for more third party devices, and with iOS 11, it gets more categories, such as to-do lists, banking, and apps that display QR codes.
Siri is also getting improved context sensitivity so if someone in Messages asks “Where are you?”, it can offer up your location as a keyboard suggestion. Videos shot on iOS 11 will now be encoded in HEVC, allowing for up to 2x better compression without a dip in quality. Siri is also getting smarter, understanding if someone says “Hey, you owe me $20!” in Messages and offering up an Apple Pay button.
Control Center is also getting an overhaul so now everything can be found on one page. So swiping up on the home screen will see airplane mode, rotation lock, Apple Music player all in one page. You can also 3D touch some of the controls that will expand them to bring up more options. 3D touching the music controller, for example, brings up the volume slider. A new Lock Screen was also introduced as a better way to see all Notifications in one place.
Apple Photos also gets some new tweaks, especially to Live Photos which gets a bunch of new looping modes. You can now loop Live Photos to create a sort of a GIF image. iOS 11 will also have a ‘Do Not Disturb while Driving’ mode. It can detect when you’re in you’re driving in your car (via Bluetooth, or via “WiFi doppler effect”) and will hide your incoming alerts, and auto-respond. Also new will iOS 11 is the ability to take Portrait Mode images with optical image stabilisation, True Tone flash, and HDR. A new Long Exposure mode has also been introduced.
Also new, are optimised Memory movies that can play both in landscape and portrait orientations, while more memories can be automatically created. Finally, Apple has also introduced High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF), which reduces the size of each image taken with the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.
iOS 11 will also get AirPlay 2 with multi-room support. With AirPlay 2, anyone on your Wi-Fi can join and add to party playlists without disrupting the jams. AirPlay 2 gets an API that will allow developers to play around with it a little bit more. Meanwhile, HomeKit will now support speakers and Apple says that new speakers from brands will be coming soon.
Apple mentioned that its Apple Music has grown since launch now hitting 27 million paid subscribers. The music streaming service will now show what your friends have been listening to with the new iOS 11. Lastly, the App Store also gets a major redesign, which actually looks a lot like Apple Music.
Many had also expected Apple to announce something regarding its augmented reality (AR) efforts, and to that effect the company announced ARKit. The ARKit provides fast and stable motion tracking, ambient light estimation and so on which is made possible by using the sensors in the iPhone and iPad devices. “This will make ARKit the largest AR platform in the world,” says Federighi.
Other updates announced include improvements to Apple News, a new QuickType keyboard on iPad with easy access to symbols, numbers, and punctuation, as well as the addition of indoor maps to Apple Maps.
While most of these new updates to iOS 11 come for both iPhone and iPad models, Apple announced some specific new features coming to the iPad as well with powerful multitasking features, improved dock, the Files app (which shows all files across local, iCloud, and third-party cloud storage services), drag and drop functionality, and more ways to use Apple Pencil. iOS 11 is available as a developer preview today and will be a free software update for iPhone and iPad this fall. It will become available as a public beta later this month.
Notably, the iOS 11 update is meant for the iPhone 5s and newer devices, all iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets, iPad 5th generation and newer devices, iPad mini 2 and newer devices, and the iPod touch 6th generation.