iOS 11

Macworld - - Contents - Ja­son Snell

I t seems like al­most ev­ery year Ap­ple crows that the lat­est iOS up­date is the great­est one yet. Yes, when you in­cre­men­tally add fea­tures and fix bugs, ev­ery new ver­sion is fun­da­men­tally bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous one. But iOS 11 is more than that: this is a sub­stan­tial up­grade that dra­mat­i­cally trans­forms iPad pro­duc­tiv­ity while of­fer­ing a host of new fea­tures that have the po­ten­tial to make the world around us both safer and more en­ter­tain­ing than ever be­fore. Changes you can’t miss The day you buy a new iPhone or iPad should be a time of joy. In­stead, it’s fre­quently a frus­trat­ing

ex­er­cise in en­ter­ing in pass­words re­peat­edly while tap­ping through a long se­ries of ques­tions about ac­ti­vat­ing or de­ac­ti­vat­ing nu­mer­ous iOS fea­tures. Ap­ple’s been grad­u­ally im­prov­ing this process over the years, but it takes a big step for­ward with the new auto-setup fea­tures in iOS 11.

In iOS 11, you can trans­fer key fea­tures (in­clud­ing set­tings, and your key­chain pass­words) di­rectly be­tween de­vices by point­ing your old iPhone’s cam­era at the new model, which dis­plays a pat­tern that al­lows the two de­vices to pair with each other wire­lessly and be­gin trans­fer­ring in­for­ma­tion. When all was said and done, I still needed to re­store my iCloud backup and reload apps from the App Store, but the process was mea­sur­ably smoother than ever be­fore. As­sum­ing that ev­ery­one up­dates their old de­vices to iOS 11 be­fore buy­ing new iPhones, this year’s iPhone up­grades should be much smoother for new phone buy­ers.

Con­trol Cen­tre, the in­ter­face that lets you make quick changes to your iPhone with a quick swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen, is com­pletely re­designed in iOS 11. Gone is the old three-page in­ter­face, re­placed with a sin­gle page of icons, but­tons, and slid­ers. You can cus­tom­ize Con­trol Cen­tre now – for ex­am­ple, to add a but­ton to en­able Low Power Mode or re­move the but­ton for HomeKit. Most of the but­tons also pro­vide ad­di­tional fea­tures if you 3D Touch them (or tap and hold if you’re not on a 3D-touch-ca­pa­ble de­vice).

It’s a great up­grade. I es­pe­cially have come to like the slider con­trols for vol­ume and bright­ness.

Some fea­tures, such as switch­ing au­dio out­put de­vices or turn­ing on and off a HomeKit de­vice, are now a lit­tle less ob­vi­ous, but once you get used to the new ap­proach, they’re not re­ally harder to ac­cess than they were in iOS 10. (I still don’t un­der­stand why you can’t quickly switch Wi-Fi net­works from Con­trol Cen­tre, though.)

With iOS 11, Ap­ple has ad­dressed one of my big­gest com­plaints with no­ti­fi­ca­tions on my lock screen and in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre by bring­ing them in to align­ment with one an­other. With iOS 11, the lock screen and No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre are merged

to­gether, with the cur­rent time, cur­rently play­ing au­dio, and cur­rent and re­cent no­ti­fi­ca­tions, all scrol­lable. I used to ‘lose’ no­ti­fi­ca­tions af­ter un­lock­ing my phone, and they wouldn’t be vis­i­ble in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre, but that seems to be all fixed now.

Per­haps the most im­por­tant part of iOS as a plat­form is the App Store, so it’s un­der­stand­able that Ap­ple has been re­luc­tant to mess with suc­cess. But with iOS 11, con­sider it messed: The App Store app has been com­pletely re­designed. There’s a new vis­ual look (in­her­ited from the iOS 10 de­sign of Ap­ple Mu­sic), with big ban­ners and large, graphic-rich boxes. But more im­pres­sive is the edi­to­rial com­mit­ment Ap­ple is mak­ing, with ar­ti­cles

spot­light­ing the app and game of the day, as well as other fea­tured items. In iOS 11, the App Store is a richer, more fun ex­pe­ri­ence – and, I sus­pect, a more ef­fec­tive tool for sell­ing us more apps.

The first time you hop in a car with an iPhone run­ning iOS 11, you’ll be prompted to turn on Do Not Dis­turb When Driv­ing, a vari­ant on Do Not Dis­turb that senses you’re in a ve­hi­cle (ei­ther via sen­sors or by con­nect­ing to a car via Blue­tooth) and dis­ables all but the most im­por­tant alerts. In this mode, app no­ti­fi­ca­tions are blocked, as are phone calls and texts from all but the peo­ple you choose. You can set the iPhone to auto-re­ply to cer­tain peo­ple you spec­ify, who can then break through the text block if it’s ur­gent.

This is a great fea­ture that’s bound to save lives and pre­vent traf­fic ac­ci­dents. It’s so easy to be dis­tracted while driv­ing, es­pe­cially by the avalanche of push no­ti­fi­ca­tions that our apps send to us reg­u­larly. The al­lowances for call and text over­rides are helpful, so I can know that my fam­ily can reach me when I’m driv­ing even if I’d pre­fer not to be both­ered by any­one else. While Ap­ple could’ve added many more set­tings for this fea­ture, I’m glad that it kept things sim­ple. You can’t set apps to break through, for ex­am­ple, and I think that’s Ap­ple’s mes­sage that no app no­ti­fi­ca­tion is worth cre­at­ing a dis­tracted driver.

Sub­tle changes

Some iOS 11 changes are a lit­tle more sub­tle. The Ap­ple News app is more per­son­al­ized in iOS 11, with

sup­port for a ‘spot­light topic’. If you fre­quently hold your iPhone in one hand, there’s a new one-handed key­board lay­out that pushes all the keys to the left or right side of the screen, so your fin­gers can reach ev­ery key – even on the emoji key­board. (You bring it up by tap­ping and hold­ing on the emoji/key­board but­ton; to re­turn to a nor­mal key­board, just tap the ar­row at the large empty area.) This is an es­pe­cially nice fea­ture on the larger iPhone Plus mod­els.

Ap­ple has added a bunch of fea­tures to iOS 11 that aren’t par­tic­u­larly new, even on iOS – but now that they’re in­te­grated into the core apps that come with iOS, they’ll prob­a­bly find a wider au­di­ence than did be­fore. Notes now has a doc­u­ment-scan­ner mode that will au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect the edges of a piece of pa­per held in front of your de­vice’s cam­era and use those edges to in­tel­li­gently crop and ad­just the im­age so that it looks more or less like you scanned it on a flatbed scan­ner. Notes also now in­cludes OCR (op­ti­cal char­ac­ter recog­ni­tion)

tech­nol­ogy, so when you scan or hand-write text (rather than typ­ing it on a key­board), your de­vice will fig­ure out that text and make it search­able. The Maps app is adding lane guid­ance, which is a wel­come ad­di­tion – but also one that Google has of­fered in Google Maps for some time.

A few more of the sub­tle changes: You now have much bet­ter con­trol over Live Pho­tos Videos and pho­tos are stored in more com­pact for­mats and con­verted on the fly to larger but more com­pat­i­ble for­mats for shar­ing (learn more) You can send money to friends via Ap­ple Pay in Mes­sages (this fea­ture isn’t avail­able un­til later this au­tumn) Siri has an im­proved voice and a bunch of new fea­tures, in­clud­ing trans­la­tion Ap­ple Mu­sic has added a so­cial layer that shows you what mu­sic your friends are en­joy­ing You can now set the be­hav­iour of a dou­ble-tap on the left and right Air­Pods sep­a­rately, so (for ex­am­ple) tap­ping on the right AirPod ad­vances to the next track while tap­ping on the left one plays or pauses au­dio Changes that will take time Most iOS fea­tures ar­rive fully formed, but there’s a whole cat­e­gory of fea­tures that won’t reach their po­ten­tial for a lit­tle while, be­cause they rely on out­side app or hard­ware de­vel­op­ers to sup­port them.

ARKit, Ap­ple’s frame­work for aug­mented re­al­ity apps – apps that can take a live im­age cap­tured by your de­vice’s cam­era and then place vir­tual ob­jects into that space and dis­play the mixed re­sult on the screen – has the po­ten­tial to be huge. This fall we’ll be in­un­dated with AR apps, most bad, some mind­blow­ingly good. There’s huge po­ten­tial here, but we’ll need to see how app de­vel­op­ers re­spond to this new tech­nol­ogy over the next few months.

Sim­i­larly, the new Files app looks great. It’s es­sen­tially an up­date of the old iCloud Drive app

that has ex­panded its hori­zons. It’s a full-fledged file browser, so if you’d like to man­age files on your iOS de­vice, you can. (If you don’t want to, you don’t need to! Un­like Finder, which is at the cen­tre of the Mac ex­pe­ri­ence, Files is an app like any other, and if you never open it, you’ll ba­si­cally never see it.) Third-party apps can hook into Files, which means that ev­ery pos­si­ble cloud-stor­age ser­vice you can think of – Drop­box, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, even SFTP and SMB servers – should be able to hook into Files and ap­pear as a peer to

iCloud and lo­cal stor­age. This will be a big deal for pro­fes­sion­als who need to store and man­age files in the cloud – but I’m re­serv­ing judg­ment un­til I see which play­ers prop­erly sup­port it, and how well it works in prac­tice.

Fi­nally, there’s Air­Play 2, Ap­ple’s lat­est it­er­a­tion of its de­vice-to-de­vices me­dia stream­ing pro­to­col. The proof in Air­Play 2’s qual­ity will be in how well it in­ter­acts with hard­ware, both from Ap­ple and from other man­u­fac­tur­ers. Only then will we know if Air­Play is a boon or a bust. Changes for iPad Some of the most dra­matic changes in iOS 11 are lim­ited to the iPad. It’s been two years since the last iOS up­date to fea­ture prom­i­nent iPadonly fea­tures, and this year Ap­ple has tweaked many of the mul­ti­task­ing fea­tures in­tro­duced in iOS 9. This up­date also brings nu­mer­ous other iPad-fo­cused fea­tures, whether you’re an Ap­ple Pen­cil user or some­one who tends to fo­cus on the soft­ware key­board.

Ev­ery­one who uses iOS 11 will no­tice that the Dock at the bot­tom of the home screen has been re­designed (and the name la­bels on apps re­moved), but on the iPad the Dock (not Con­trol Cen­tre) is ac­ces­si­ble by swip­ing up from the bot­tom of the screen. This en­ables fast switch­ing be­tween apps, but also pro­vides a pal­ette of app icons that can be dragged out into the iPad in­ter­face to cre­ate mul­ti­task­ing pairs. Drag an icon out of the Dock to the right or left of the screen, and you’ll see a

preview of Split View mul­ti­task­ing. Let go and the sec­ond app opens right next to the one you’re run­ning. (Drag­ging an app into a more cen­tral area or onto the border be­tween two ex­ist­ing apps will place it into Slide Over rather than Split View. While apps in Slide Over be­have more or less as they did in iOS 9 and 10, they now ap­pear as a float­ing win­dow rather than an over­lay that comes in from the right side.)

It’s a care­fully thought out sys­tem that makes mul­ti­task­ing more ac­ces­si­ble and tac­tile. Apps that are in a pair stay to­gether un­til you un­link them, al­low­ing you to cre­ate sev­eral pairs of apps and switch among them. While Ap­ple could’ve built the sys­tem with more gran­u­lar­ity of con­trol (and per­haps that will be an op­tion some­day), I think iOS 11 strikes the right bal­ance when it comes to mul­ti­task­ing. The one ma­jor draw­back is that if an

app isn’t in your Dock, it’s much harder to add it to mul­ti­task­ing. (If you’re us­ing a hard­ware key­board, you can do a Spot­light search and drag the app icon out of the search re­sults, but that doesn’t work if you don’t have a key­board at­tached.)

iOS 11 brings true drag-and-drop func­tion­al­ity to the plat­form for the first time. For iPhone users, this fea­ture is lim­ited to drag­ging data around within an app. But on the iPad, you can drag data be­tween apps. It’s a great fea­ture, though apps have to be up­dated to re­ally take ad­van­tage of it. This fea­ture ac­tu­ally sur­passes my ex­pec­ta­tions, be­cause not only can you drag items be­tween on-screen apps, you can ac­tu­ally be­gin drag­ging data and then use the mul­ti­task­ing view to move to a dif­fer­ent app, then drop it there. That’s a multi-fin­ger ges­ture that’s a lit­tle com­pli­cated to ex­e­cute, but it feels nat­u­ral – and it opens ev­ery sin­gle app on your iPad to drag­ging and drop­ping. It’s an­other huge boost for iPad pro­duc­tiv­ity.

There are a few other great changes that iPad users will love. You can now set Notes to open au­to­mat­i­cally when you tap on the lock screen with an Ap­ple Pen­cil, which es­sen­tially turns your iPad into an on-de­mand notepad. And on the 9.7- and 10.5in iPads, the new Quick­Type key­board lets you type a sec­ond char­ac­ters by tap­ping with a slight down­ward swipe. Once you get used to it, it makes typ­ing sym­bols and num­bers far more fluid than when you had to tog­gle to a dif­fer­ent key­board, tap a key, and then switch back to the stan­dard set of let­ters.


If you’re an iPad user, down­load iOS 11 im­me­di­ately. It’s a huge up­date that makes ma­jor im­prove­ments to the two-year-old mul­ti­task­ing fea­tures, and drag-and-drop and Files have the po­ten­tial to trans­form iPad pro­duc­tiv­ity.

If you’re an iPhone user – well, who are we kid­ding, you’re al­most cer­tainly go­ing to up­grade to iOS 11, too. And you’ll be right to do so. This is a great col­lec­tion of new fea­tures, Ap­ple’s best iOS up­grade in years. The new, cus­tom­iz­a­ble Con­trol Cen­tre is a win­ner. Do Not Dis­turb While Driv­ing will make the roads safer. And ARKit threat­ens to kick off a rev­o­lu­tion in aug­mented-re­al­ity ap­pli­ca­tions. This is all great stuff.

The new Con­trol Cen­tre (right) is cus­tom­iz­a­ble via the Set­tings app (left)

The App Store app is com­pletely re­designed, with a large fea­ture area con­tain­ing ar­ti­cles about apps, and a sim­pli­fied app de­tail screen

You can ac­ti­vate the one-handed key­board (right) via a new el­e­ment at the bot­tom of the key­board picker (left)

Apps like PCalc (left) and Car­rot Weather (right) have been up­dated to in­clude AR fea­tures. Other AR ap­pli­ca­tions both silly and use­ful will fill iOS de­vices this au­tumn

The iOS 11 Files app is a file browser for iCloud Drive and other cloud ser­vices

The iOS 11 mul­ti­task­ing view on an iPad, com­plete with a new Dock (bot­tom) and the re­designed Con­trol Cen­tre (right)

Two apps side by side in iOS 11, with the Dock swiped up at bot­tom and the Files app pro­vid­ing quick ac­cess to re­cent files

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