Outlined in this article are some of the most important new features of iOS 11 in case you need some motivation to upgrade. These are just some of the features, but we think they’ll make clear just how big an update iOS 11 is – especially for the iPad.
- The Files App
(The Files App: iOS 11’s “Finder”.)
One of the most noticeable things in beta testing OS 11 was the Files app – it’s basically bringing the macOS Finder to iOS, and finally giving you full control over your files. Once you have added all your cloud services such as Box, iCloud Drive, Adobe Creative Cloud and Dropbox, you can use the Files app to search through browse all your files, on all of these. This new control over your files is available from within other iOS apps, shared between your other iOS devices, and on your local device, all thanks to the Files app.
- QuickType Keyboard
In an attempt to make typing on your iOS device much faster, especially for iPads, this new keyboard (see screenshot above) displays numbers, letters, and symbols at the same time as the alphabet. For example, rather than switching to the ‘numbers and symbols’ keyboard, in iOS 11 you can type the “&” symbol by simply flicking down on the “F” key – you can see above that this key also displays a grey “&”.
This feature might seem strange, or take a little bit of time to get used to, but it makes typing on the iPad pro much faster when using the built-in software keyboard.
- The Dock
This is a feature of the big iPads, not so much the phones. If you have used a Mac before, then you’re probably familiar with the idea of the Dock. It’s basically a shelf for your most used, and most recently used, apps that fades away when you are using an app, but can be brought right up by swiping from the bottom of the screen. It helps you to switch easily between apps and also makes opening new apps quicker. You can drag whatever apps you want onto its left hand side, and your most recently used apps are displayed on the right hand side for easy access.
(It’s also possible to place Slide Over items on the screen’s left side.)
Have you ever opened an app on your iPad and wanted to have another available at the same time? This feature was introduced earlier in iOS via Split View and Slide Over, but it has been made even better in iOS 11.
Now, to add a second app to your screen, you can bring up the dock, tap and hold on the app you want to add, then drag it to the side of the screen that you want it to go (refer to the image above).
That’s it! Two apps side by side.
- The Reformulated Control Center and App Switcher
(The new App Switcher (to the left) and the new Control Center (to the right) with the Dock at the bottom.)
In addition to bringing up the Dock, the gesture described earlier will also display the new Control Center and App Switcher (see image above). New to iOS 11 is the ability to choose which widgets show up in Control Center, and the App Switcher displays thumbnails of your most recently used apps, and their current state.
- Drag and Drop
Drag and drop is a feature that has been on the Mac since day one, and is now finally integrated into iOS. To clarify, ‘Drag and Drop’ is when you select one or more items, with one or more fingers, then drag them to a different part of the screen, or different app, before releasing, to move things around. This is a huge change, as it means you can pick something up from one app, and drop it into another app, simply and easily. As you might be able to imagine, it really shines when using Split View on your iPad – you can pick up a photo from an email, and drop it straight into a message, all without moving between screens.
- Text Recognition and Document Scanner in Notes
(iOS 11’s new document scanning function in Notes.)
This one might be hidden away, but is amazing! The Notes app has received a lot of good updates over the years, but this one takes it to the next level (refer to screenshot above). Basically, the Notes app will now recognize text that you ‘scan’ using your device’s camera, and even handwritten notes, and will convert that text so it can be searched. If you’re someone who has ever wanted to scribble a note on a piece of paper, take a photo of it, and be able to find it again later by searching for whatever it was you wrote down, the Notes app can now do that.
Instant Markup with an Apple Pencil
Like many of the features mentioned here, this one is most useful on the iPad Pro. The first part of the feature means that when you take a screen shot in iOS 11, it will appear on left side of the screen of your iOS device for some time. This is an improvement over how it used to work – new screen shots would be hidden away in your camera roll, and you’d have to do some digging to find them. In addition to this little change, you can now also pick up your Apple Pencil and start marking up the screenshot right then, as soon as you take it, from the screen shot itself – no other apps required.
Even when you don’t have an Apple Pencil, this new ability can still be super useful. If you’ve ever wanted to quickly, visually express something on your iOS device to someone – maybe helping a friend find a button, or showing a family member how to use an app – you can now take a screenshot, tap on it to edit it, crop it, and, if need be, add callouts, and send it on, all from the popup. The icing on the cake is that, once you have sent the screenshot, you can choose to save it to your device, or you can just discard it. This should help those of us with a photos album full of old, often-accidental, screenshots on our phone!
- Other Amazing Features
- While not yet much of a thing here in Australia, it will soon be possible for people to send money to someone using Apple Pay on your iOS device. This is an interesting feature, which should make splitting bills, or paying back friends much easier.
- New filters have been added to the camera, and your device will now save photos in the brand new HEVC and HEIF formats, which allow you to have the same amount of high-quality photos and videos, in a lot less storage space.
- Siri now performs translations (English to Spanish, Mandarin, German, Italian or French).
- The iOS 11 App Store has been updated, making it much easier to discover new apps, and giving developers more options for providing good descriptions of their apps.
These are just some of the big things that we like about iOS 11, but the best way for you to check it out is to upgrade your device! Try it out, and let us know what you think.