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What’s new in iOS 11?

iOS 11’s new features are many and varied.

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 (and now the iPhone 8 Plus) will use optical image stabilisation as standard in iOS 11, True Tone flash and HDR, all of which should lead to significant improvements in portraiture. There’s also a feature called Portrait Lighting, which offers users a series of different lighting options when in Portrait mode.

Live Photos gains the ability to Loop or Bounce scenes forwards and backward – similar to Boomerang on Instagram –  while the Long Exposure feature will “creatively capture time and movement.” Elsewhere, 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.

You can also expect new video recording options and capture rates to accompany the newly efficient video codec. In other words, iOS 11 will not only reduce the size of captured video files, but it will also likely improve video file quality at the same time.

In Photos in iOS 11, Memory Movies, which are created automatically based on a date, location or event, will play in both portrait and landscape orientation, and the type of memory movies will increase, based on object recognition for example. This will make it easier to create videos of a pet’s birthday, as an example.

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.

These include:

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 activated by long-pressing and holding.

iOS 11: Apple Pay

Apple previously announced that Apple Pay users will be able to send and receive money from contacts using Apple Pay Cash. This will let people send money via their Apple Wallet in Messages, or ask Siri to pay someone. The feature won’t launch on iOS 11 release date but will be available this fall with a further update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4. WatchOS 4 was unveiled at Apple’s recent iPhone 8 launch event in Cupertino and will power the Apple Watch Series 3. 

iOS 11: Siri 

Siri is gaining both a minor visual update and new higher-quality voices in iOS 11 that change intonation, pitch and tone, and tempo, but there are other 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 is now able to translate US English into Mandarin, French, German, Italian or Spanish, and it uses what Apple calls “on-device learning” to offer suggestions based on how you use Apple apps including Safari, Mail, and Messages, similar to how Google Now and Google Assistant work. 

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.

In particular, iOS 11 will know when you’re driving based on the speed you’re travelling, how your vehicle is moving, and Bluetooth connections and will silence notifications automatically when Maps is open. You’ll also have the option of sending an auto-reply to contacts to automatically let them know you’re driving and can’t respond.

iOS 11: ARKit

One of the biggest announcements at WWDC was ARKit and, as expected, Apple went big on this at the iPhone 8/iPhone X launch. It’s a new set of APIs for creating augmented reality applications.

Back in July, the company showed a simple demo application that allows you to drop virtual objects such as a cup of coffee (complete with steam) onto 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.

Apple said that both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have been “tuned” to work more efficiently with augmented reality, and in turn, ARKit, and demos at the event and on the show floor were incredible. In a blog post ahead of the iOS 11 release, Apple said that with ARKit on iOS 11: “Hundreds of millions of people can now experience AR apps on iPhone and iPad and view virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more.”

iOS 11: App Store

It might seem like a minor change, but the current App Store can be a little trick to use so Apple is revamping it in iOS 11. Apple claims the redesigned App Store will make discovering apps and games easier, plus the store will run new in-depth features and interviews with iOS developers. Elsewhere, App Store for iMessage is getting a new app drawer.

iOS 11: iPad tools and file system

After the announcements about the new iPad Pro at WWDC, Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi returned to the stage to show off iOS 11’s  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.

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