iOS 11 brings us a hefty dose of “New and Improved!” and dramatically changes the iPad experience. Let’s look at the most interesting of these changes.
A new feature worth checking out immediately helps you save precious storage space. Choose Settings > General > iPhone/iPad Storage and you can offload unused apps (while keeping settings and data), delete old Messages conversations automatically, and see how much space each app consumes. Deleting music (tap Edit on the Music screen) will help too.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see iOS 11’s refreshed Control Center, and notice that a few of the buttons now provide additional options if you press and hold on them. Some of the controls, like those for networking, music, and brightness, are fixed, but you can now swap others in and out. Tap Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls to see what you can add or remove.
Apple’s new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature aims to reduce car accidents. After it detects that you’re in a moving car, it prevents you from using the iPhone and blocks notifications, all while auto-replying to any incoming texts. Calls are still piped through Bluetooth to your car’s audio system, and people you designate as favorites can override the texting cone of silence. Passengers can disable the feature through a notification that appears on the Lock screen (or with an optional Control Center button). To customize this feature, tap Settings > Do Not Disturb.
Worried about needing to call for help? You can now make an emergency call and share your location with your emergency contacts by pressing your iPhone’s Sleep/Wake button five times quickly and then swiping on Emergency SOS. Tap Settings > Emergency SOS to set this up.
Another helpful change is expanded password autofill. Previously, this worked only in Safari, but now when you sign in to an app, look for a login button on the QuickType bar above the keyboard. Manage this feature in Settings > Accounts & Passwords > App & Website Passwords.
Apple’s built-in apps picked up piles of new features:
- Camera: New file formats will make your videos and photos take up less space. Also, look for new filters—Silvertone and Dramatic caught our eyes—and note that Camera can now scan QR codes.
- Photos: You can now trim the video in a Live Photo and apply special effects, including looping and long exposure. Photos can at long last play animated GIFs and has a new Animated album for them.
- Files: The new Files app is a big deal. It replaces the iCloud Drive app and offers access not just to iCloud Drive files, but also to files on your device and in other cloud services, like Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Messages: A new drawer at the bottom of the screen makes iMessage apps impossible to miss. Most are stickers, but some are useful, and Apple’s new Apple Pay app will let you make person-to-person payments.
- Maps: According to Apple, Maps now provides lane guidance on more complicated roads. Maps also picks up indoor maps for a few airports and malls, and more should roll out over time.
- Notes: Notes grows up a bit in iOS 11. It now offers document scanning, tables, and the capability to find text written with the Apple Pencil. A new Instant Notes feature lets you start a note or access the most recent note through a Notes button you can add to Control Center—or just by tapping an iPad Pro’s Lock screen with an Apple Pencil.
Several key iPad changes make it easier to work with multiple apps and type numbers and punctuation:
- Dock: As always, the Dock holds apps that you add manually, and those apps now appear on the left. (You can now drag apps on directly; there’s no need to touch and hold until icons shake!). The right side of the Dock now shows both recently used apps and Handoff apps from your other Apple devices. Want to see the Dock within an app? Swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Tap a Dock icon to switch apps or drag a second app off the Dock to open it in Slide Over or Split View.
- Control Center and App Switcher: This is whizzy! In any app, swipe up to see the Dock. Keep swiping to display the new App Switcher, which shows thumbnails of recent apps and the Control Center.
- Drag and drop: To move text, graphics, or files between apps, start by dragging an item with a finger and then use your other hand to reveal the Dock and switch to your destination app before dropping.
- Keyboard flick: On iPads other than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you can now type numbers and many punctuation characters by swiping down on the appropriate key, rather than switching keyboards.
Take some time to explore—we’re liking the new features, and we think you will too! It’s likely safe to upgrade to iOS 11 now, but check our upgrade advice first.