iOS 11 release date, news and features

iOS 11 is bringing more changes to your iPhone and iPad, so many that Apple CEO Tim Cook said the software update is “turned up to 11”.

He’s right. iOS 11 helps iPad become a true laptop replacement for some, with better multitasking, and it gives Control Center a much-needed reorganization.

There are new camera modes, Siri is smarter and iOS 11 (finally) thrusts Apple into augmented reality. iPhone 8‘s AR rumors are all but confirmed at this point.

Here are all of the iOS 11 features announced at Apple WWDC 2017.

iOS 11 dock turns iPad into a laptop replacement

The new iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 are becoming a laptop replacement for many people, and iOS 11 makes that easier to realistically pull off.

New multi-tasking grid view with a redesigned Control Center

iOS 11 includes a dock just like a Mac computer, and it follows you from app-to-app along the bottom. It’s hidden, but you can always swipe up to access it.

The bottom app dock also shows up in the multitasking menu, which is now laid out in a grid. It’s so much easier to jump between apps now, like on a MacBook.

Drag and drop comes to the iPad

Drag and Drop also debuts on iOS 11 and instantly launches apps into split screen mode when you drag them to the side of the screen.

You can also transport items across a halved screen: text, photos, hyperlinks and files. This – not the iMac Pro – is Apple’s answer to a touchscreen computer.

iOS 11 makes the iPad feel different than your phone rather blown up iPhone software, and it’s something that no Android tablet, not even the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, offers today.

iOS 11 release date

Now that all of the iOS 11 news is out there – and before we get to the rest of the changes – let’s stop to tell you when the iOS 11 release date happens.

iOS 11 will launch this autumn, according to Apple at its WWDC keynote. You’ll be able to download iOS 11 starting today, at least in early form.

Not a paying developer, but still want to test out iOS 11? You’ll be able to try it out in the iOS 11 public beta that begins in July. It’s just one month away.

iOS 11 features hint at iPhone 8 AR

iOS 11 gives Apple the largest AR platform in the world – overnight, thanks to so many iPhones and iPads out there. It’s an instant boon for augmented reality fans and developers alike.

That’s why the developer-focused Apple ARKit is a big deal for everyone, not just app makers. It hints at the biggest features to come from the iPhone 8 three months from now. Get ready for a futuristic life in augmented reality.

What is Apple ARKit on iOS 11 exactly? Developers will be able to place virtual objects into the real world using your iPhone or iPad and its camera.

It’s like a really advanced version of Pokemon Go, but with many more possibilities.

The table has nothing on it. But on the iPad, it’s an interactive world

In fact, Pokemon was one of several AR demos Apple showed off. But we were even more impressed with what Peter Jackson’s studio Wingut AR demoed.

Its complex AR showcase involved a battle between an outpost and spaceships, and it all happen on an otherwise peaceful, empty living room table.

Apple just created a new playground for million of existing devices and put the Microsoft Hololens and Google Tango on notice.

iOS 11 puts Apple Pencil to the test

Apple Pencil is a great little tool for the iPad Pro series, but our one complaint in our iPad Pro 9.7 review was that you can’t use it everywhere you’d like to in apps.

That all changes with iOS 11. Instant Markup lets you draw on PDFs and photos and Instant Notes lets you jot things down ASAP – right from the lockscreen.

All of your Instant Notes on the lockscreen are saved in Notes, so don’t worry. And drawing on Notes near existing text cleverly now moves the text out of the way.

Document Scanner in Notes defeats the need to painstakingly scan important documents that you need to sign.

It scans, crops edges, removes tilt and glare and lets you fill in the blanks or sign away with an Apple Pencil.

New iPad keyboard shortcuts

Apple is making a big productivity push with the iPad Pro 10.5-inch, and iOS 11 is doing its part with tweaked keyboard shortcuts.

You won’t have to switch to the second keyboard layer anymore

It combines letter keys with numbers, symbols and punctuation marks (normally reserved on the second keyboard layer) and accessed by a new flicking gesture.

Flicking these secondary numbers and symbols is easier than having to switch back and forth between the two layers.

Apple Files opens up your many clouds

Apple is debuting a new Files app in iOS 11 that lets you sort through all of your files. Your can browse, search and organize them all in one place.

Apple Files not only has recent files from your iPad, but on other iOS devices, in iCloud Drive and from other services, including Box, Google Drive and Dropbox.

It’s just one more way Apple is trying to make the iPad Pro a de facto computer for people who don’t need a MacBook 2017 or iMac Pro.

iMessages won’t take up your storage anymore

iOS 11 is making iMessages even better than it already is with seamless iCloud syncing across your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

That means two things. First, when you delete a conversation bubble on an iPad, it’ll also disappear on your iPhone and MacBook Pro. Great.

Second, it frees up all of your iMessage storage, a real problem for rabid texters who have been with Apple since iMessage first launched.

Whether or not you know it, iMessages take up a bunch of space in your iPhone and iPad. It’s all of that ‘Other’ storage in yellow if you ever look in iTunes.

Soon, with iOS 11, you’ll be able to back up all of your iMessages to iCloud as they get archived to Apple’s secure internet servers. That’s a big relief.

Apple Pay payments to friends

Apple Pay is expanding to include person-to-person payment features when you upgrade to iOS 11. It’s exactly what Venmo and PayPal do right now, but via an app-free solution.

Apple Pay payments use Touch ID for authentication and iMessages to send between friends or other contacts who owe you money.

With so many contactless payment options on iOS right now, including Gmail and Facebook, there’s no reason avoid paying back your friends.

Welcome to the new App Store

We didn’t get an iTunes refresh at WWDC 2017, but iOS 11 is giving us a brand new App Store on the iPhone and iPad.

The Today tab leads things off by refreshing its app picks daily and telling stories behind the top apps. The format feels very much like what Apple did in Music last year.

Don’t worry, every app will still have a product page, but iOS 11 is putting a lot of focus on the new ‘Games’ and ‘Apps’ tabs to spotlight the best in those areas.

Apple says the new App Store on your mobile devices is ‘designed for discovery’ and is a way to make app downloading exciting again, like it was nine years ago.

Siri is smarter and sounds different

Siri is getting a more natural-sounding voice with the iOS 11 update, and you’re able to pick between female and male voice options.

To make Siri sound like AI from the future, Apple gave it a way to say the same word with different tones. It’s not always the same robot-like pronunciation.

Siri is boosting its contextual learning, too, going as far as surfacing different word suggestions after you read a specific news story in Apple News or Safari.

Did you just read a news about Iceland and are starting to type in a word like Reykjavik? Let Siri finish up that forthcoming typo of yours.

Siri is on 375 million devices, and is in more languages and more countries than any other personal assistant. So Apple is taking advantage of that with iOS 11.

It uses deep learning for quick translations like we haven’t seen before. Want to order an authentic dish in Chinese? Just have Siri say it for you.

iOS 11 revamps Control Center

iOS 11 gives Control Center a complete overhaul with an all-in-one look to put quick controls at your fingertips – without having to swipe between menus.

Everything is combined now: system controls, app shortcuts and music controls. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen and there they are.

It’s a lot different than before, so the design will force you to get used to the new arrangement (you’ll probably hate it on day one, love it on day two). Of course, it’ll be easier and faster once it becomes second nature.

Lockscreen and notification center are now one

Lockscreen notifications and notification center are joining forces in iOS 11, and that makes it easier to see which older alerts you’ve missed.

Swiping up on the normal lockscreen will display notifications from earlier in the day, essentially giving you access to notification center from the lockscreen.

Meanwhile, the usual notification center gesture (swipe down from the top of your iPhone) brings up the new lockscreen/notification center menu.

New camera modes and photo storage

The iOS 11 camera app debuts new modes that further chip away at the need to always bring a high-end DSLR with you. It’s that advanced.

Apple’s Live Photos take on Instagram’s Loop app with its own Loop and Bounce  options. Either play them in a loop or have them rock back and forth endlessly.

Long exposures are going to let you capture still photos with proper motion blur. Think: waterfalls, car traffic tail lights, stars moving across the night sky.

New filters are also coming to iOS 11, with Apple promising that portrait photos will be expressive and skin tones more natural in the end.

It’s also changing the way we store videos and photos with new standards, HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (the High Efficiency Video Codec).

The good news here is that these next-generation compression technologies won’t take up nearly as much storage – and you’ll never even notice.

Driving without distraction thanks to iOS 11

You shouldn’t be driving and texting anyway, but Apple is literally driving that point home with a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature in iOS 11.

It’ll shut off notifications just like Do Not Disturb, but do so automatically if you are behind the wheel. Apple concedes not everyone has Apple CarPlay just yet, which it argues is a safer, hands-free solution. But this feature allows you to drive safely without it. It will even shoot a text over to those who try to contact you with a message saying that you will get back to them shortly.

What if you’re just a law-abiding passenger? It’s easy to confirm that, so you can continue to ignore the driver by looking at important cat GIFs on your iPhone.

What if you really need to get in contact with someone? You can enter the word “urgent” to break through the Do No Disturb feature.

Apple Maps goes indoors, adds lane assist

One less distraction comes with Maps, which is getter smarter on the road and even indoors as of the iOS 11 update.

Lane assist and speed limits are coming to Apple Maps, which is handy for safe driving in all ways. Maps has come a long way since its disastrous inception.

And while Apple isn’t done improving Apps outdoors, it’s going indoors, too with detailed maps of hundreds of airports and malls around the world.

This is the future: finding out which restaurants are past security at LAX or which stores are on level three of the multi-story mall is possible with iOS 11.

Your music just got better with iOS 11

Apple is expanding its already leading presence in Smart Home control with new iOS 11 multi-speaker controls and further tweaking the Apple Music design.

This is great news ahead of the Apple HomePod launch.

AirPlay 2 will let you control your several speakers throughout your house with a new Apple Home menu. Everything can be in sync on all of your home speakers

Apple Music is getting equally exciting changes. You’ll be able to amass better playlists by consulting with your friends – without ever having to ask them thanks to shared playlists, albums and stations.

Siri is getting in on music curation, too, with Apple promising that as of iOS 11, its virtual assistant knows sounds you love and can answer band trivia.

More iOS 11 features to come

The official iOS 11 release date is still three months away, but developers are sure to discover new features in between now and then.

You may be able to unearth additional features from the public beta in July. Whenever that happens, you’ll find it right here on your iOS 11 guide.

You’ll also find our thoughts on the new iPad Pro 10.5, Apple HomePod and iMac Pro right from the WWDC show floor, and our iPhone 8 rumors round-up.

Read on for everything we heard about iOS 11 ahead of WWDC 2017!

Apple’s iOS 11 update marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, and it’s poised to grace a completely redesigned iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

The iOS 11 release date therefore has tremendous hype surrounding it, and we’ll get a chance to check out the first iOS 11 features in the new developer preview, out now.

Here’s all the iOS 11 news and rumors that we found prior to the OS’ official unveiling, along with features we hoped topped Apple’s priorities list.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next version of iOS
  • When is it out? Likely June 5 announcement and September launch
  • What will it cost? iOS 11 will be free to download

iOS 11 release date

The official iOS 11 release date is likely mid-September, along with an iPhone 8, according to Apple’s scheduling history.

Good news: you should be able to download iOS 11 beta as soon this week, as it’s expected to be unveiled at the WWDC keynote today.

Apple’s WWDC keynote is where Apple previews the first iOS 11 features. Just don’t expect iOS 11 to be completely finished by Monday morning.

With iOS 11 beta (including a iOS 11 public beta in July), we’ll see several iterations over the course of three months until the final public release.

Again, this is all based on past iOS releases rather than any news or rumors, but there’s no reason to think Apple will change its rock-solid schedule.

iOS 11 Siri upgrade

iOS 11 is expected to have Siri graduate from voice assistant to full-blown a AI bot thanks to a new version of Siri, according to multiple rumors.

The big iOS 11 change is due in part to the Apple Siri Speaker release date and news we expect at WWDC. Siri will finally rival Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Siri in 2017 is supposed to learn your habits and change how it treats you based on what you’ve done in the past. We may also be able to type to Siri in iOS 11. That’s great news for anyone who wants to turn to Siri in noisy environments.

Not only is Siri expected with answer your questions more quickly, it’s poised to anticipate how you’d act. It’s geared toward “What’s your next question?” and having that answer prepared, too.

Major iPad changes

We’re already anticipating a 10.5-inch iPad Pro announcement on Monday, and WWDC conference may give us new software too.

iOS 11 needs to help Apple put the ‘Pro’ in iPad Pro 2. To do that, we expect to see easier ways to switch apps and harness its multitasking potential.

iOS 10 didn’t bright enough iPad-specific changes, not next to iOS 9 did, so we’re due for software that bridges the gap between an iPhone and MacBook 2017.

If iPads are the future of mobile computing, we need to see Apple create software that takes advantage of its Apple A10 Fusion processing power.

Group FaceTime

It’s time to break out of those 1:1 video calls and, with iOS 11, invite the whole group to your FaceTime chat – or at least do a 3-way FaceTime call.

More audio, fewer pictures

Apple is reportedly a Group FaceTime feature, something that’s long overdue, as already a part of Google Hangouts, Skype and  Facebook Messenger.

It’s still an iOS 11 rumor, but we fully expect to see this logical feature launch in the post-WWDC 2017 beta or, more likely, in the final software this autumn.

FaceTime Audio takes over phone calls

Prepare to make more FaceTime Audio calls  because that’s supposed to be the default of future iPhone-to-iPhone phone calls – like iMessages, but for calls.

FaceTime Audio will become the normal calling mode between Apple devices, according to a now-deleted post from Reddit user cyanhat.

Replacing cellular calls and saving your once-precious minutes would have been ideal ten years ago when unlimited data plans and limited minutes existed.

Now, data is more precious than minutes in most countries, so we’ll see if Apple makes with a Wi-Fi only change when iOS 11 is announced on June 5.

An official sleep tracking app

Apple could make quick use of its acquisition of Beddit, an app company that’s been described as the ‘Fitbit of Sleep tracking.’

iOS 11 could get an official sleep tracking app – though we don’t expect to see such an app launch right away in the iOS 11 beta.

Apple could save the feature for the Apple Watch 3, but there’s bound to be some sort of iOS 11 integration in order to display your sleep score and graph.

Apple Pay with friends

Apple Pay is already in 15 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and most recently, Taiwan. Italy will make the 16th soon.

The next big step for the iPhone’s contactless payment system may have Apple taking a direct shot at popular mobile payment iOS apps like Venmo.

Peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments will be a part of an Wallet app update, notes to the same Reddit post. It’s said to have a social feed and iMessage integration, too.

More from Apple Clips

Apple was also rumored to be working on a new video sharing and editing app, similar to Snapchat. We got that with Apple Clips (so far, everything rings true).

But we could see the filtered video app get a proper spotlight and new features with the iOS 11 launch, maybe right inside the default camera app.

After all, Apple really needs to redesign its barebones camera app (Why can’t you switch resolutions in the camera app instead of in the settings menu?).

Better sharing

Apple is also apparently working on enhanced social features, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg.

The company’s tipped to make sharing and connectivity with contacts a system-wide feature, and it may consolidate communications to a single optional menu.

This way, you’ll be able to see all your SMS messages, emails and social network interactions with a given person on a single screen.

iOS 11 low-power mode

Apple needs a small rethink on the great, but unrefined low-power mode. That could very well happen in the iOS 11 update.

Rumors point to a more intelligent low-power mode that will learn your habits battery conserving habits and try to create a schedule to automatically put itself into low-power mode, according to cyanhat.

It’s also said to be geographically adaptive, so if you want to be in low-power mode whenever away from your house, iOS will automatically make those changes for you.

The other change we’re hoping to see is bringing low-power mode out of its settings menu confines and into the Control Center. My, my, that giant Night Shift button is mighty big. Low-power mode could easily fit in half of Night Shift’s Control Center real estate.

Dark Mode

One thing we’re expecting to see soon from iOS is a Dark Mode, which would make backgrounds black, so you don’t strain your eyes when using an iOS device at night or in other dim environments.

Resources for the feature have already been found within iOS 10, so it’s probably something that Apple plans to add imminently.

Of course, there’s already a Night Shift mode, but that’s a bit different, as it reduces the amount of blue light rather than making the display darker.

What we want to see

That can’t be everything from the iOS 11 update, so we’re diving into theories about other features ahead of this week’s WWDC announcement.

Here’s our wish list for addition iOS 11 features.

1. Customizable Control Center

Control Center is a handy shortcut to a number of quick settings, but it’s not customizable, meaning that for certain options, such as music controls, you must swipe to the second tab – an annoying extra step for anyone who listens to a lot of music or podcasts on their device.

Worse, some actions, such as GPS, don’t have Control Center toggles at all, so we’d like to see the ability to customize both what options are displayed and which tab they appear on.

2. Always-on display

Samsung impressed us with the always-on display of phones like the Galaxy S7 – giving you a constant clock and a window onto your notifications, and we’d like to see a similar option built into iOS 11.

Raise to wake makes it quicker than ever to view the lock screen, but if we just want to check the time we’d rather not have to even raise the phone, and an always-on display would be a solution.

3. Home screen widgets

Apple’s lock screen widgets are handy, and help stop the home screen getting too cluttered, but we’d still like the option to put widgets on our home screens.

It’s not just about having quick access to apps and information, but also about customizing devices to make them our own, whether that means having a big custom clock and weather forecast on our main home screen, an overview of upcoming calendar events, or whatever else.

4. Smarter Siri

Siri is getting better all the time, but there’s still room for improvement, especially as in many ways Google Assistant has it beat.

We’d especially like to see improvements to Siri’s context awareness – so for example reliably being able to answer follow-up questions without you having to clarify the subject again.

5. Grouped notifications

Everyone likes to be loved, and there’s nothing better than your WhatsApp blowing up – until that is, you take a gander at your lock screen or notification bar.

Currently, iOS seems unable to group messages from the same contact, or message group, together, giving you an almost never-ending stream of notifications.

Come on Apple, give us “19 new messages from 2 chats” and the ability to expand to see more if we so desire. Pleeaassssseeeeee.

6. Clear all background apps

Being able to hop quickly between different apps is handy, but sometimes we like to clean up the multi-tasking panel and start fresh. Thing is, on iOS 10 that involves swiping each individual app to close it.

For iOS 11 we’d love to have a “clear all” option, allowing us to shut all the background apps with a simple tap of an icon.

7. Easy video resolution changes

iOS is often thought of as simple and intuitive, and for the most part it is, but glaring usability issues sometimes emerge, and one of those is the inability to change video resolution from the camera app.

Instead you have to dig down into the main settings screen, which takes time, isn’t intuitive at all and could leave some users unaware that it’s even an option.

This should be an easy fix, so hopefully with iOS 11 Apple will add a video resolution toggle to the camera app itself.

8. Improved Mail app

Apple’s Mail app got a bit of love in the iOS 10 upgrade, but the new look isn’t overly slick. Scrolling through an email conversation feels clunky, and rival apps such as Gmail feel better put together overall.

In iOS 11 we’d like to see a cleaner, slicker and more user friendly Mail app, and if Apple wants to take a few pointers from Google’s Gmail offering we won’t complain.

Also, we want to be able to insert hyperlinks into anchor text with the Mail app. Yes, that’s still not possible today, resulting in Long URLs for all links you send.

  • After a new tablet? The iPad Pro 2 could be coming soon


TechRadar: Software news

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