iOS 11 will bring big updates to Siri, iMessages, Apple Pay, and more
Lots of updates will make iOS 11 look and feel different come Fall 2017.
Apple announced iOS 11 at its annual developers conference today, revealing details on what changes will come to your iPhone or iPad in the near future. Some of the updates include a new app drawer for finding iMessage apps and stickers, new integrations for Apple Pay, a Siri translation beta, drag-and-drop for iPad, and more.
Apple’s Craig Federighi dove into the software update at the conference keynote, demoing a bunch of new features coming in iOS11. There’s a redesigned app drawer for iMessage apps and stickers. The current drawer is pretty sparse, so the company redesigned it to make compatible apps and sticker packs more discoverable in iMessage. All your messages will also be automatically synced to iCloud to optimize storage on each of your iOS devices.
iMessages is also getting Apple Pay in a new way: the contactless payment system will have its own iMessage app in iOS11 so you can pay people directly within your messages. You can use TouchID to authenticate payments and money transfers, and any money you receive through Apple Pay in iMessage will go to your Apple Pay cash card.
The “proactive” nature of Siri we saw in the watchOS 4 announcement continues with Siri in iOS 11. Federighi showed off some of the new machine learning capabilities of SiriKit in the iOs update, including on-device learning about topics that are pertinent to each user. For example, Siri will be able to suggest sending your location in a message to a friend, or making a calendar event based on something you looked up using Safari. Features like these are reminiscent of Google’s Assistant, which already provides contextual answers and suggestions based on questions you ask it and activity you perform on your device.
Siri is also getting a translation beta and a new male voice. On iOS 11, you’ll be able to ask Siri how to say a phrase in a different language, and it’ll pump out a translation for you. At launch, the beta will support English translations to Chinese, French, German, and Italian, and Spanish, and more languages should come later. The voice is particularly interesting since Apple demoed it saying the same word three times with different intonations. The company briefly explained it used deep learning to make this voice more natural and expressive than other Siri voices that came before it.
Photos and Memories
In addition to the promise of better low-light photos with iOS 11’s updates, the software update will bring a new Memories feature to iOS photos. Machine learning can identify different kinds of “memories,” or situations that you may want to keep track of like birthday parties, graduations, and more. This goes along with enhancements to Live Photos, which will allow you to capture a different still from within a Live Photo. That could be helpful if you take a still photo but there’s a better shot lying within the few seconds that replay as a Live Photo. You can also make loops of Live Photos as well, stringing multiple gifs together to make creative moving images.
HomeKit and Control Center
Apple added a a speaker category to HomeKit, letting you add and control smart speakers using the company’s new AirPlay 2 protocol. That also adds multi-room audio support for iOS, so you should be able to control speakers that live in different rooms individually, playing unique music on each if you please. Since speakers are a totally new category for HomeKit, you’ll have to wait for audio manufacturers to make AirPlay 2-compatible speakers before you can use the new feature.
A couple UI changes are coming to the Control Center as well. Instead of three separate pages you swipe through, the Control Center packs everything onto one page in iOS 11. Nothing is eliminated from the Control Center, but Apple strategically placed all the shortcuts in the Control Center into differently-sized squares. You can tap on icons in those squares to do things like turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and use 3D Touch to access more information and advanced settings.
Maps and CarPlay
Apple Maps will have new detailed floorpans and directories for malls in iOS 11, and it’ll have detailed information for airports. You’ll be able to see where security is in some airports, hopefully making it easier to find what area of the airport you need to be in using Apple Maps. While driving, Maps will also show speed limits and lane guidance which could be useful information while you’re driving as long as you don’t get distracted.
That leads us to CarPlay, and no, you don’t need a CarPlay vehicle to access the new features in iOS 11. With the software update, your device will get a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that can turn on automatically when your device uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to detect you’re in a moving car (you can also tell it when you’re not driving to manually disable the feature). Do Not Disturb While Driving turns your iOS device’s screen blank so you won’t be distracted by all those notifications that typically pop up. Notifications from important contacts will come through, but all those Snapchat and Instagram alerts won’t.
Apple Music and the App Store
Apple Music now has 27 million paid subscribers, and the company is adding a couple social features to the app in iOS 11. In the updated Apple Music app, you can see what your friends are listening to in real time, and users can control their privacy settings surrounding this feature including the playlists they want to make shareable. Spotify has had these features for years, so Apple’s clearly trying to get its music subscription service up to the social standards of its biggest competitor. There’s also a new MusicKit API which will let developers build Apple Music access into their apps.
The App Store looks very different in iOS 11. Overall it’s more visual with large images promoting apps and games on the homepage. There’s a whole new Today tab for viewing the most popular and newest apps on that day, and a dedicated Games tab that lets you easily access games and nothing more. Each app and game how has its own “page,” which looks like a big, bold card with an image representing the app or game. Tapping on that page brings you to a more traditional app info page, with all the details you’d expect to see when you search for an app in the store today. Apple’s placed more emphasis on the app experience in these individual pages, with videos of gameplay front-and-center for games and quotes from the developers. In the short demo Apple gave during the keynote, the App Store in iOS 11 seems to draw upon the visual aspects of new TV streaming apps, like that for YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV. Apple wants the experience of using the App Store to be just as engaging and visual as the experience using any of the apps you may be searching for in the store itself.
Developers are getting some perks in the App Store as well: currently Apple shaved the app review time down to 24 hours, but the company is promising even shorter review times for iOS 11. Developers will also have access to “phase releases,” a new feature that lets them submit an app and send updates for it out in phases so their infrastructure doesn’t get hit all at once.
Apple touched upon a new augmented reality feature coming in iOS 11 called ARKit. It essentially lets you experience AR situations through an iOS camera and it appears much like the technology Facebook hopes to bring to its mobile apps that have access to mobile device cameras.
The ARKit demo had Craig Federighi interacting with an AR coffee cup and lamp on a table in front of him on the stage. The technology detects surfaces, and estimates scale and ambient light to account for your real-life environment and properly place AR objects in that space that you can see through the camera’s lens. Then using motion tracking, you can move things around and the camera will account for the new placement of the AR objects. A couple more demos show ARKit in action, creating 3D scenes of a village on a table using just an iPad and its camera. ARKit could also make games like Pokemon Go even more realistic, but third-parties have to embrace it first.
Special iPad features
After announcing the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple showed off a bunch of iOS 11 features specifically for the company’s tablets. Many of the changes revolve around making it easier to multitask on an iPad and share information between apps, and there’s a lot of dragging. Now you can drag an app from the Dock into the Slide Over bar and drag-and-drop information between two apps in Split View. Drag-and-drop is a long awaited feature for the iPad (some third-parties have found ways to incorporate it into their own apps for iPad) and it works for images, texts, and URLs.
The App Switcher has been totally redesigned, now with rows of open apps occupying most of the screen’s space and the Control Center at the right-hand side. The Switcher can also remember paired apps so they’re more easily accessible every time you go to use them together in Split View. The on-screen keyboard has a new “flick” feature as well, letting you lightly touch keys to access numbers and symbols instead of changing the entire keyboard layout to get to those special characters.
While demoing the new iPad features, Apple also showed off its new File system for iOS that will be available for iPads and iPhones. It’s a traditional final manager, but significant because iOS has never had this kind of user-friendly file system before. Not only can you save device-specific files into the Files app, but you can also see all your cloud storage provides (like Dropbox, Box, and others) within the same UI in the Files app. Read more about the Files app here.
The Apple Pencil isn’t a necessary accessory for the iPad Pro, but Apple’s trying to entice handwriting-happy users with changes to iOS 11. First, Apple Pencil users can markup any PDFs in apps that support printing, giving you more freedom over which documents you can scribble on with the company’s stylus. You’ll also be able to markup screenshots: snap a screenshot like you normally would in iOS and immediately a thumbnail of that screenshot will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can tap on that to open a markup-friendly version of the screenshot and write on it as you please.
Inline drawing is another new feature—press on an area of an app (this works in Mail for sure, but compatibility with other apps is currently uncertain), in the middle of an email for example, and you’ll be able to draw a map or scribble a handwritten message even if text surrounds that area. While this is all added practicality for the Apple Pencil, we don’t know how much of it is exclusive to the Apple Pencil. Third-party styluses are available for the iPad Pro for those who don’t want to spend $100 on a digital pen—but there’s a chance some of these new features will only work with the Apple Pencil if iPads running iOS 11 can distinguish between it and another stylus’ tip.
While there are a ton of note-taking apps for the iPad, Apple wants users to use the native Notes app as much as possible. To accompany the new Apple Pencil features, Notes is getting some complementary upgrades: you’ll be able to search handwritten notes within the app in iOS 11 thanks to machine learning that identifies words in each note. Apple’s demo of this feature used handwriting that was pretty legible, so there’s no telling how neatly you have to write for this to work completely. Notes will also include a new document scanner that scans papers, corrects perspective, and then lets you mark them up digitally all from within the Notes app.
iOS 11 will be available for all iOS devices in the fall as a free upgrade.
Read the original article over at ArsTechnica.