The iOS 11 public beta is out now, and the full version of iOS 11 will launch this fall. According to Apple, the new operating system will make its devices more “powerful, personal and intelligent” than ever before. If you have an iPhone and iPad, these are the best features to get excited for.
A New, Customizable Control Center
With iOS 10, swiping up to the control center provides quick access to airplane mode, brightness settings, music controls, the flashlight and more. With iOS 11, you’re allowed to customize the shortcuts that sit in control center to your liking. The control center also takes up the whole screen instead of half. Instead of features that are assumed to be most important, you can access controls and apps you actually use most — a subtle but important update to the system.
Drag and Drop with a New Files App
The Files app is basically a much-improved replacement for iCloud Drive. You can drag and drop files between apps, making it easier to find, organize and delete them. This also makes sharing photos and documents easier since users won’t have to open the share tab to send a file from an iOS device. It’s also great for when you’re using your iPad as a laptop.
Peer-to-Peer Payment Through iMessage
iMessage will support peer-to-peer payments. Funds will be sent and received through ApplePay, which could be a crushing update for apps like Venmo, PayPal and Google Wallet. Owe someone $10 for lunch? Just send them an iMessage. No need to open any other apps.
Automatically Delete Unused Apps
There are probably at least ten apps on your iPhone that you don’t use on a regular basis. Maybe you downloaded an app once and never touched it again. iOS 11 includes a feature, accessed through Settings, called “Offload Unused Apps,” which automatically collects unused apps and quickly uninstalls them at the push of a button. (Their data will remain so you won’t lose related information or save files in games.)
Split Screen and Multitasking on iPad
iOS 11 received many updates to make the new iPad Pro work more like a laptop. The iPad dock, for example, houses any number of apps you want, just like a Mac; it isn’t limited to six apps, like on iOS 10. Split-screen functionality also makes multitasking easier; if you want to view three apps side by side, you can.
A True Dark Mode — Almost
Apple is introducing a new feature called “Smart Invert Colors” that isn’t a true “dark mode,” but close enough. The setting makes it so colors are optimized for nighttime viewing. Instead of just inverting all the colors on the screen, only the UI is inverted, so the content you’re watching remains the same, but everything else is easier on the eyes.
Siri will now be able to translate English into Chinese, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Better yet, you can now type to Siri, instead of just asking her questions out loud. This is a welcome feature for quiet places (and often just more convenient) — sometimes typing is just easier. Google Assistant already had this functionality, but Apple has finally caught up.
More Camera Customization
The iPhone Camera will now take even better photos, but each file will occupy less space on your device thanks to a new file format, HEIF. Portrait mode will now support Optical Image Stabilization, HDR will work better with low-light shots, and the camera will see some new filters. Live Photos also received updates to allow for more advanced control: users can now turn Live Photos into gifs within the Photos app (similar to Boomerang), and users can adjust the length of individual Live Photos as they would when editing a video.
Do Not Disturb Activates Automatically While Driving
This is a big update in the way of safety. When active, the iPhone will sense if you’re driving, in which case the screen will black out. iMessage can be set to automatically respond to texts, informing your contacts that you’re driving. This is a very smart way to cut down on distracted drivers on the road and will be built into every iOS device that’s updated with iOS 11.
You can squish the keyboard to one side of the device for easy single-handed typing. It’s a small but handy update, and it’s designed for use by both right- and left-handed users.
Wi-Fi Password Sharing
“Is that ‘B’ uppercase or lowercase?” Logging into a friend’s wi-fi network is easier than ever. Simply place your device next to your friend’s connected device, and they’ll receive a notification that you’re trying to join the network. Your friend then simply grants you access. It’s as easy as pairing AirPods to an iPhone.
Bonus: A Less Annoying Volume Meter
Okay, this update bumps our list up to 12, but it’s a tiny one: onscreen volume indicator no longer pops up when you open a video on YouTube or Netflix. Finally!