The next version of iOS has just been announced on day one of Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2017. While the final version of iOS 11 will arrive in fall of 2017 (along with the new iPhone models), the software is currently available as a developer beta and will soon also be available as public beta to help Apple fix all the reported bugs faster.
iOS 11 may look very similar to iOS 10, there is no design overhaul like we saw with the release of iOS 7. But as I had pointed out in my iOS 11 wish list, there is one evident change in iOS 11 in the way in which headers are presented. It's a bold new look that Apple went with in iOS 10's Music, HomeKit, News and Maps app. You will find bold and large fonts as headers in most native iOS 10 apps and they in more ways than one help in making iOS 11 look refreshed and new. Add to this a new design philosophy where content and images take center stage. Whether it is the all-new App Store that almost looks like a magazine, or the new multi-tasking menu on the iPad removes the clutter from the mobile operating system. Yes, iOS 11 in its entirety is all about cleaning up and adding customisations, and for once it sure looks polished and a lot better than its past iterations.
Coming to the major changes, most of the big one do make a lot more sense on the bigger display of the iPad.
Apple App Store which has barely seen any changes since its first revamp with iOS 7 has got to be the biggest example of Apple's new design philosophy with iOS 11. Upon launch, you will no longer be greeted with boring rows of apps, but a new Today page with content that comes alive using videos that auto play as you scroll through the magazine-like interface.
Every section is now marked in bold letters with a noticeably bigger font compared to the rest of the content display on the page below it.
There are not just apps, videos showcasing a demo of how they work but also some stories.
Yes, Apple has now added in-depth interviews with the developers behind all those cool apps getting both the apps and their developers in the spotlight.
There's large tiles displaying apps moulded into artworks and it all now falls into place with the App Store's global team of editors who will share the stories behind these fantastic games and apps. Apple also plans to include exclusive premieres, new releases turning the app store from a boring stack of apps to a content-rich place that you will not just visit to download apps, but also know more about the people behind them.
Also updated in the App Store is the Updates tab that now directly lets you glance what has changed in an app and Search that is said to be improved compared to the current App Store.
Google's Android Play Store will certainly look and feel ancient once the new update is out.
If the launch of another iPad Pro model was not enough to convince naysayers that the tablet isn't dead, Apple's iOS 11 comes with a some new features, that seem to have been built from the ground up for the iPad tablet.
Multitasking is one of the highlights. iOS 11 adds a Dock that can be accessed with a upward swipe gesture at the bottom area of the display. It provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen. Think of it as the task bar that is available on Windows that can be drawn when needed to switch between apps or a screen with dual apps.
The layout of the multi-tasking screen has improved as well. You can not only see previews of individual apps, but previews of Split screen apps (together) as well.
Again on the iPad, Apple also added Drag and Drop, a feature that will let you drag an image, text and files from one app and simply drop them in the other app using the Split screen view.
For the first time, Apple gives you app to save all your files in one place. The new Files app basically brings all your files together, whether its those stored locally on your device, iCloud and even third-party services like Box, Dropbox, Microsoft's OneDrive, Google Drive and more.
Files can be tagged using tags of your choice, which means finding them is now easier than ever before (obviously). These files can not only come from multiple sources, but multiple devices as well. Save an image in your iPhone and you can open it and view it clearly on your iPad. While this may not impress Android folk, I can see iOS fans drooling all over this much requested feature.
Instant Markup and Notes:
Just like iOS 10 gave a more priority to 3D Touch on an iPhone, Apple this time around emphasizes on the use of the Pencil. iOS 11 simply gives you more reason to buy an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil (obviously sold separately) with it. In what would be an iPad Pro exclusive feature, iOS 11 now brings Instant Markup.
And it's called Instant for a reason. There's no gesture, no button to be pressed. Simply pull out your Apple Pencil and draw on your iPad Pro display to instantly turn whatever is on your screen into a note. Whether its a PDF, an image, or Word File, you can annotate, and create a plan starting by just tapping your Pencil on to the display.
Another Pencil-friendly iPad feature would be Instant Notes. The feature will let you start scribbling directly on to your lock screen and then save those scribbles or notes into your Notes app.
Talking about the Notes app, it has now gotten smarter. The app now supports inline drawing. Meaning that when the point of you Pencil touches a text heavy note, the text automagically moves aside. If you were wondering, all those handwritten notes are also searchable (wonder what Evernote has to say about this).
But there's more, the Notes app now also comes with a built-in Document Scanner. It mostly automated and will detect, crop and remove the glare off the document to ensure a clean scan every time.
Live Photos and Camera:
Finally coming to the iPhone-friendly features, iOS 11 brings some additional transitions, loops, a bounce effect and even a long exposure effect to make your Live Photos more fun. The camera app now get some more professional quality filters. A handy new feature is a new format that Apple uses to record photos that lets you take new photos with the same quality as before with half the size.
What would an iOS update be without Siri? Well, Apple decided to show Siri some love after all and she now can undertand and translate to Chinese, Spanish, French, German or Italian on the fly. Siri will also now be able to identify not just music but also tell you who was the drummer in a particular song.
More importantly, Siri has finally been integrated into Search. She now learns more about your usage patterns and choices. With that knowledge the assistant will help out and deliver better news when using the News App, suggest names of movies, places that you have recently been searching for and even suggest your time of arrival in case you are typing it down in your chat window. In short, Siri is not longer limited to that one microphone icon, but is literally deeply integrated into all the native apps.
Control Center like the App Store is an area that got a complete overhaul. Everything is spaced out on the iPad and it gets combined with the multitasking menu, which I think is a great idea. And finally, you don't have to stare at the torch widget every time because you can now remove it, if you don't like it.
Yes, Apple finally (it comes after plenty of begging and pleading) gave its users the right to choose what they would like to see in their Control Center panel. So if you don't use Screen Mirroring, you can just head to Settings and get rid of it. A cool detail out here, is that you don't really need 3D Touch to access the deeper settings behind each control panel toggle.
All-in-all iOS 11 from my first impressions seems like a big update. While it may not be a complete redesign, the minor details like new transitions, better response and customisation options make it worth the download both on your supported iPhone and your iPad.
From my initial usage, there were fewer bugs than expected. But considering that it has barely been a day, I can expect these to show up sooner rather than later.