It's that time of year again, and iPhone users are busy awaiting the download of a whole new operating system update. The new Apple OS is iOS11, and it's got some pretty impressive new features. Want to know what you've got to look forward to? Then check out our guide to the best new iOS11 features below!
Instant messaging is big business, and in order to compete with independent apps like WhatsApp, Apple has vastly improved their native iMessage app in iOS11. First of all, you'll find that both the iMessage apps and stickers are far easier to find (they're right on the desktop, rather than hidden behind a messaging button). Secondly, iMessages are now stored on the cloud. This has two effects. First, you save on storage (since you no longer need to store messages directly on your phone). Second, iMessages are now synced between all your devices.
Siri is Better Than Ever
Siri, Apple's digital assistant, was already pretty awesome, but iOS11 brings some cool new features. She sounds more natural than ever, thanks to better pronunciation and the ability to add emphasis and accent to words. And she might not even be a she, since you can now use a male voice if you prefer. She learns better and faster, making use of your input in other apps and services to make better guesses as to restaurants, news topics and other recommendations that you might like. Finally, she now has a built-in translation feature. She'll even speak a translation out loud for you so you'll know exactly how it sounds. Translation is initially limited to French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese, though more languages should appear soon.
There are a couple of big announcements for photo fans as well. As of iOS11 Apple will be using HEVC video encoding as well as HEIF (rather than JPEG) to store photos. Tech talk aside, what this means practically is that photo compression is better so you can store up to twice as many pics and videos as before.
The iPhone Photos app has a couple of improvements too. The Memories feature now uses better algorithms and can weed out birthdays, anniversary, child, pet and other groups of photos to better group them. The photo app is also better at choosing which shot is the best, so you can delete the others. Oh, and in the live photo section you can make gifs to post online, as we as more easily edit live pics.
Finally, File Management
A file manager app has been missing in iOS for a long time, but with iOS11 you'll finally get an app that lets you better manage your data and storage. The new Files app supports all storage providers (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., not just iCloud), and allows you to see all the files on your device and in storage in one place. This lets you easily delete files that take up too much space, and you can simply add files from email attachments and the like by drag and drop. As a side note, Apple have also doubled the amount of storage you get in an iCloud subscription, with the basic monthly plan giving you 2TB of data rather than 1TB.
A Whole New App Store
Maybe the first thing that you'll notice is that Apple's App Store has been completely redesigned from the ground up, making it look much more sleek and modern. It's easier than ever to find new apps, an added “Today” tab at the bottom of the screen helps you find the most popular games and apps of the day. You can also limit your searches to “games” or “apps” letting you better find what you're looking for. Last, but not least, the new bolded text makes everything easier to read too.
If you frequently drive with your iPhone in the car you'll be safer than ever with the new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. This uses a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi to detect when you're in the car, connects you up to your headset, and disables notifications. You can even get Messages to auto-respond to texts telling people that you're in the car and can't reply at the moment.
Simplified Notifications and Lock Screen
The whole look of a sleeping iPhone has been changed as well, making things easier than ever. From the long screen a downwards swipe will bring up all your current notifications without needing to unlock your phone, whilst a right swipe will bring up your camera and a left swipe your widgets, all without needing to enter your passcode.
More Intuitive Control Centre
The Control Centre is the screen that pops up when you swipe up from the bottom of your home screen, and this too has been redesigned. All the features now appear on one screen (so you don't need to swipe left and right), and you can use 3D touch (if you have it) to access more possibilities. A long touch on the music control icon gives you added info and further controls, for example. You can customise the Control Centre too (head into Settings, then Control Centre, then Customise Controls), and even disable the Control Centre altogether if you're not a fan.
And All the Rest…
There are tons more great new features in iOS11, and we can't mention all of them, but a few do rise above the others. Your phone will now “offload” automatically, meaning if its short of space it will automatically delete apps that you don't use. Those apps will appear as greyed out on your screen, and tapping them will download them again complete with all your data. You can also record your screen without first needing to plug your phone into your computer. Finally, it's a small thing (literally), but a nice improvement: the volume icon that appears on screen when you hit a volume key is now much smaller, meaning it's not going to block the video that you're watching.