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Apple officially unveils iOS 11: Here’s everything that’s new

by Brandon Russell | June 5, 2017June 5, 2017 11:01 am PDT

Apple took the wraps off iOS 11 today at WWDC. The update adds a myriad of a new features, including improvements to iMessages and more.

Apple says iMessages will sync more consistently across devices, so if you delete a message on your phone, it’ll go away on your Mac. (Finally!) Apple says only the most recently will be kept on your device, while the rest are backed up in the cloud.

Apple’s messaging service is also adding peer-to-peer payments through Apple Pay. For those of you who use Square and Venmo, this is great news (and something that was rumored for months and months). You can easily send money to friends and family, use the money to make Apple Pay purchases, and transfer money to your bank.

Siri is getting a big upgrade in iOS 11, too, with an updated voice that sounds much more natural. It can also respond to follow-up questions, just like Google Assistant. There’s even a cool translation feature built right into Siri (supported languages include English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish).

Siri will also be more proactive about the information it shows you and learns. The assistant will use on-device learning to suggest news articles and more. Since everything is on-device, nothing escapes to the cloud for a company to see and keep.

In Photos, Apple will use HEVC video encoding and HEIF for photos, which provides users with better images at half the size. Overall, Apple says the camera app will provide users with improved low-light performance, optical image stabilization, and more. With Live Photos, Apple will also allow users ti choose any part of the video as the key photo.

You can also set a small loop with Live Photos, which is similar to Google’s neat Motion app for iOS. There are also new effects, such as Long Exposure, which is great for landscape images.

A major redesign is also coming to Control Center, which is basically a single page of widgets. You can also 3D Touch icons to get more controls. Apple is also combining lock screen and notification center.

Apple Maps is getting updated with indoor maps for malls, a do not disturb feature for driving, speed limits and lane guidance, and more. The do not disturb feature will block notifications to keep drivers from being distracted. Once it connects to Bluetooth, for example, it’ll know to suggest the feature, which you have an option to turn on or off. If someone messages you while the feature is on, they’ll get a message saying the mode is turned on.

Of course, like iOS’ do not disturb feature, you can choose to let certain notifications through even if the feature is turned on.

Apple’s update will also include AirPlay 2 support, multi-room audio, shared up next for Apple Music. Apple Music will support a new social feature, too, letting subscribers see what their friends are listening to.

The App Store is also getting a major overhaul and includes a “Today” tab and big color cards you can scroll through. (By the way, Apple just low-key announced Monument Valley 2, which you should all buy immediately.) Many of the visual cues we’ve seen in iOS 11 look like what we’ve already seen in Apple Music.

Games will get their own separate tabs, finally, while in-app purchases will be more granular. If you go to an app with in-app purchases, customers can see all of them right away and decide to buy them rather than doing it through the app.

A big theme during iOS 11’s announcement was machine learning, which Apple says occurs on-device, making processes much faster and secure. Siri will get better, photos will get better, and you’ll get the information you need without first asking for it.

Another theme is augmented reality. In iOS 11, your iPhone will be able to identify a table as a flat surface, for example, and place items in the scene. Apple ARkit will provide “fast, stable motion tracking,” estimate ambient light, fine plane estimation, and more. Since it’s coming to iOS, Apple says it’ll become the largest AR platform in the world once it hits iPhones.

Basically, Pokémon GO should look much nicer; Apple showed off a quick demo and the game looked a lot better with ARkit.

A demo was shown off during the event that was an apocalypse-type game that you can play on any flat surface in your home. It was incredibly smooth and convincing. The jury’s still out on whether playing games like this is feasible over longer play periods, but it looked really cool. Kids are no doubt going to eat AR games up when the feature is available later this year.

The software is getting even more features that are tailored to the iPad, including the ability to pull up the dock from anywhere. If you swipe up to get the dock, for example, you can slide up an app and then snap it for multi-tasking. Drag and drop is coming to the iPad as well, and a Files app that supports nested folder, spring loading, list view, and more. Files supports iCloud, DropBox, OneDrive, and more.

Many of the new updates coming to iOS 11 for the iPad makes the environment more desktop-like than ever. Some of the new features and gestures look a little difficult to pull off for the average user. But these features aren’t really designed for folks who simply have an iPad for streaming Netflix. (That’s what the cheap 9.7-inch iPad is for.)

Developers can begin testing iOS 11 later this month, with a consumer launch this fall.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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