Apple today kickstarted WWDC 2017 by unveiling iOS 11, the next major version of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. iOS 11 comes with a number of new features and UI enhancements, some of which were long asked by power iOS users.
iMessage in the iCloud
The iMessage app in iOS 11 now comes with a redesigned app drawer to make it easier to find your favorite iMessage apps. Going forward with iOS 11 and thanks to the introduction of iMessage in the Cloud, iMessage apps will be synced to iCloud so that they will be available across all your iOS devices and will be synced across them.
Peer-to-Peer Payments in Apple Pay
Apple is debuting peer-to-peer payments with iOS 11 in Apple Pay. The feature is integrated into iMessage so one can directly use iMessage to send money to their friend or family which will show up in Apple Pay under Apple Cash. This Apple Cash can be used to pay for items at retail stores, make online purchases, and more.
Siri is getting some major new upgrades with iOS 11 this year. First and foremost, Siri now understands a lot more languages and is available across more regions. Apple is also bringing native live translation capabilities to Siri. For now, live translation supports English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with support for more languages to be available in the future.
Siri is everywhere in iOS 11 and makes extensive use of machine learning to learn your usage habits while using system apps like Safari, News, Mail, and Messages. So, for example, It will automatically show recommendations depending on your browsing history and will even add words to dictionary based on your possibility of you using them in the future.
Siri in iOS 11 will also sync user data across all your iOS devices with end-to-end encryption.
Other improvements to Siri in iOS 11 include new male and female voices that are more natural and expressive. Their pitch, emphasis, tempo, and intonation can all be adjusted as well.
Camera App Updates
The new Camera app in iOS 11 will allow the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to capture videos in HVEC format that occupy less space and offer better quality. Apple will also be switching over to HEIF image format that offers up to 2x compression on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 11.
Other camera app improvements on iOS 11 include improved low-light photography, a better Portrait mode that allows one to click pictures using OIS, True Tone Flash, and HDR. There is also a new Depth API that will allow developers to offer Portrait mode in their apps as well.
Live Photos is also getting an upgrade in iOS 11 and will allow one to trim, mute, change exposure and select frames. They are also getting new Loop and Bounce effects, along with a Long Exposure option.
The Photos app is also being enhanced to complement the new camera app features. The movies created by Memory in Photos will be optimised for both landscape and portrait modes now.
Redesigned Control Center
Apple is redesigning the Control Center in iOS 11. It now works in full-screen mode, comes with a few more toggles, and only occupies a single page. On iPhones with 3D Touch, one can 3D touch on the toggles to gain access to more system toggles. Similarly, one can 3D touch the music controls to gain access to the Music app.
Redesigned Lock screen and Notification Center
Apple is merging the Lock Screen and notification center with iOS 11. A simple swipe up or down from the Lock Screen will provide one access to their notifications which should help one manage their notifications better and reduce notification clutter.
Apple Maps in iOS 11 now comes with detailed floor maps for malls, airports, and other key public places of interest. It will now also feature a speed limit indicator and lane guidance while using navigation.
Do Not Disturb Mode While Driving
To make driving safer, Apple is introducing a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that will automatically mute notifications so as to not distract you. iOS will automatically prompt you to enable Do Not Disturb While Driving mode after you first drive your car. You can also set contacts that can bypass this mode.
Apple is debuting AirPlay 2 with iOS 11 featuring multi-speaker and multi-room support. The new Home app in iOS 11 will support speakers which means that one will be able to control their speakers right from the app. Speakers connected to Apple TV 4 will also show up under the Home app and can be controlled using the app.
Apple Music in iOS 11 now comes with a new section that lets you view what your friends are listening to. One can customise their profile to share their music and favorite playlists with their friends and family or only share selected ones if they wish to. Spotify has offered something similar for ages so Apple is playing catch up here.
There is also a new MusicKit API that will provide developers with access to one’s Apple Music library that can be used to offer and create custom playlists recommendations based on one’s taste and listening habits.
Redesigned App Store
Apple is giving the App Store its biggest upgrade in years with a completely revamped UI. The new UI is clearly inspired from the Apple Music refresh and features a ‘Today’ tab. This tab is updated every day, with new App of the Day and The Daily List recommendations. Scrolling down will also give access to ‘stories’ from earlier in the week as well.
Games and Apps are now getting their own tabs, with new product pages being more information dense. The new App Store will also showcase and lists in-app purchases, something which was not possible before. The new redesigned App Store will also highlight user reviews so as to make it easier for one to decide whether an app or game is worth downloading or not.
Similar to Google Play Store, developers will be able to roll out updates on the App Store in phases.
Apple is offering plenty of machine learning powered APIs to developers with iOS thereby allowing them to integrate machine learning into their apps. This includes a new Vision API that offering Face Detection, Natural Language API for natural language recognition and processing, and more. All the processing happens locally on-device using Apple’s powerful hardware.
The new AR APIs shown by Apple during its iOS 11 unveiling demonstrated how developers could use ARKit to offer some incredibly powerful AR and VR apps. A demo app shown by Apple demonstrated how one can use ARKit to place objects on a table like chairs, coffee etc. ARKit features scale estimation, fast, stable motion tracking, and integration with popular third-party rendering engines. ARKit makes extensive use of the camera, GPU & CPU, and motion sensors on iPhones and iPads.
ARKit will allow apps like Pokemon Go to offer a richer experience that was not possible before. An update to the game will be available later this year making use of ARKit API for a better experience.
With China becoming a key market for Apple, the company is adding new China-specific features to iOS 11. This includes native QR code scanning into the iOS camera app, phone number being used as Apple ID, SMS fraud extension, local dialetc support, and more.
Apart from all the features highlighted above, iOS 11 also comes with a number of other minor new features and enhancements which Apple could not show at its unveiling due to the lack of time.
That’s not all though. iOS 11 also comes with major upgrades to iPad and offers a better multitasking experience, native Drag and Drop support across apps, a new Files app to better manage your files, and more.