In San Jose this morning, Apple announced the version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11.
The announcement took place at Apple’s annual WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), where the company usually shows off what its up to next in the world of software. Along with iOS 11, we also got the newest version of macOS. While iOS 11 isn’t a massive overhaul of iOS, it does add a ton of small new features. The beta is available today and it’ll be launched to the public later this fall.
For now, here are the five most important new features of iOS 11 that you’ll actually care about:
iMessage got a pretty big facelift last year with iOS 10, but there’s a couple of important updates in iOS 11. First is a new app drawer within iMessage that makes it easier to organize which apps you use that plug into iMessage.
The most important new app that’s built right into iMessage is Apple Pay, which now supports user-to-user payments. This is a technology that has been implemented in plenty of messaging apps already, but with iMessage’s massive user base, it may finally be the thing that pushes user-to-user payments into the mainstream.
For the first time in a long time, iOS has finally made sense of notifications screens, lock screens, and control center. It’s still not as seamless as what Google has done with Android, but essentially Apple has removed the notification center altogether. Instead when you pull down from the top of the screen, it’ll take you back to the lock screen, where your widgets and notifications are waiting for you.
Apple has also completely redesigned Control Center, which can still be accessed by pulling up from the bottom of the screen. The switches and controls are all available on a single screen again, with redesigned animations, buttons, and toggles. Control Center fits everything on one screen by using 3D Touch to reveal more information and provide access to more options. It’s still not customizable for some bizarre reason, but the redesign does clean it up a bit.
Another thing that Apple has completely redesigned is the App Store. The design fits into the kind of organizational style and look that the Apple Music app has. Front and center is the new Today view, which gives you an assortment of things such as suggested app compilations and app of the day spotlights. The redesign also splits Games and Apps into separate, as well as redesigning the individual app pages to feel more like articles.
The real issue lingering here is related to how independent developers are going to get their apps seen. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t make it clear how the redesign would help developers grab the spotlight and stand out from the sea of new apps released every week.
Following up what Facebook and Google announced already this year, Apple has announced its platform for AR content and apps, ARKit. Apple has been notably behind when it comes to future technologies in the AR and VR content. The company made a number of pushes at its keynote to support these technologies, but ARKit is the platform from a technology perspective that should give developers the tools to do some interesting things with it.
Apple didn’t have its own killer app for the platform, but it showed off an updated Pokemon Go, as well as a VR Star Wars presentation by Industrial Light and Magic. You might not care about ARKit itself, but the result should be the opening of the floodgates of AR content that should be pretty fun to play with.
Apple has slowly been making the iPad Pro actually useful for productivity. In iOS 11, Apple has expanded a lot of the features it started implementing in iOS 10. The biggest update is Drag and Drop, which lets you easily move things like hyperlinks, text, and photos in a bunch of different ways. In splitscreen mode, it looks pretty seamless to move these elements from one app to another (just make sure you’re staying in the Apple app ecosystem!), and perform multi-touch Drag and Drop actions. You can even grab something, close down the app, open up a new app and then drop it into the app.
The iPad Pro finally has an app called Files, which lets you access actual files, organize them, and easily hook them up to third-party cloud drives. Apple also announced an expanded dock, which can be hidden and pulled up from any screen—and overall functions much more like it does in macOS.