The opening keynote for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, CA came to a close on Monday … and with it the first-ever public preview of iOS 11.
A less-major update when it comes to iPhone, (with the software seemingly aiming to refine the visual style and functionality first introduced with iOS 10), where the future iOS upgrade is set to win big is in its ultimate enhancements to the iPad experience.
Let’s face it, Apple’s iPad needs all the help it can get right now. In the first quarter of this year sales of Apple’s capable-but-restricted glass slab dropped by 20-percent, compared to the previous quarter.
In an effort to rally the firm’s stock price at the time, Cook teased that ‘exciting things’ were coming to iPad.
And it appears the executive wasn’t kidding…
Apple on Monday showcased what is easily the biggest update ever issued to iPad.
In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that I believe more people are going to buy the iPad in order to experience the coming enhancements in iOS 11 – than ever before.
Those who follow me on social media will know that not only marks a specific u-turn in opinion for me, personally, but could also signal big things to come overall.
Described as setting a new standard for what is already “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” iOS 11 for iPad will bring several features that should feel immediately familiar to Mac users – as the upgrade will elevate Apple’s flagship tablet into that long-fabled and wanted birth-child between iOS and macOS.
A little more on that, later …
Messages in iCloud
Bringing out Craig Federighi to head up its rundown of the software’s most-important, tentpole features, the company this week announced several changes to its Messages app – which include the storing of your conversations in iCloud.
Now attached to your Apple ID, when you sign into a new device all your messages and conversations are synced across devices and appear – automatically.
What’s more, when you delete a message, photo or video from a conversation in Messages, that action will now sync across all iOS devices currently signed into Messages with your Apple ID.
There’s a few other benefits to storing your messages in the cloud, Federighi explained – citing that, because iOS 11 will only need to cache your most-recent messages locally and on device, this makes for much faster device backups.
Presumably, going forward, successfully signing in with your Apple ID after you restore an iOS device will also see all your messages and conversations restored to that same device – too.
Announcing that the company’s contactless payment method – Apple Pay, which originally made its debut in October 2014, is now the #1 contactless payment service on mobile devices, by the end of this year, Federighi says, Apple Pay will be available at over 50% of retailers in the U.S.
Citing that there was one final frontier that it wanted to conquer, Apple on Monday also announced that iOS 11 will introduce support for person-to-person payments. What this means is that you can now send money to your friends and family members directly from inside the Messages app on your iPhone, using your already authenticated debit and credit cards.
This means if you happen to receive money via iMessage, it will soon be added to a new card found in Wallet. This Apple Pay ’Cash Card’ will allow you to forward on money to friends and family, make Apple Pay supported purchases, and, of course, withdraw any available funds on the card to a nominated bank account.
Apple Pay person-to-person payments will be available across all the company’s latest iOS devices, as well as Apple Watch.
Claiming that over 375 Million devices are now actively using Siri – monthly, improvements to the assistant in iOS 11 will center around what the company refers to as “on-device learning.”
Using deep-learning to upgrade both the male and female voices available when using the assistant, (updates that were ultimately shown to make Siri sound more ‘human’, natural and expressive), Federighi demoed how Siri in iOS 11 would bring with it an all-new visual interface, too – now able to provide users with follow-up questions and multiple responses per request.
Siri can -in iOS 11- now also offer language translations from English into any one of the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish … with more coming in the months to come.
Of course, alongside Monday’s detailing of Siri’s end-user enhancements also came the detailing of improvements to SiriKit – the set of tools that allows for developers to integrate their apps with the assistant.
Task management via Siri in third-party apps being just one of the several major additions.
Apple is, in addition, enhancing Siri’s ability to predict what information that you might need next (such as apps, notifications, auto-complete suggestions) – through the use of on device learning.
For example, Siri can now suggest topics you might want to read about in Apple News – or help you create a calendar appointment based on information you were just browsing and looking at on the web.
iOS 11 now also supports HEVC video, which is described as offering 2-times better compression, equaling less storage space used on device and in the cloud.
As well as this, Apple is also switching to HEIF for JPEG photos – which are said to be half the size on-device compared to their predecessor, and can of course be shared as normal just like the photos you take on iOS 10 – today.
Depth information will now be exposed to developers via Apple’s new Depth API. Plus, “Memories” now uses machine learning to identify pets, throwback Thursday, sporting events, performances, outdoor activities, nights out, weddings, anniversary or baby moments. Videos created by Apple’s “Memories” feature -whether automatic or curated- will now also play in portrait mode.
But the enhancements to Photos doesn’t end there … as Live Photos can now be trimmed to a desired length – and you can also choose which frame you would like to use as your ‘key photo,’ for that specific live photo shoot.
For the creatives out there, this fall’s update will also include a number of new photo filters that are set to take advantage of machine-learning algorithms to provide visual effects such as an Instagram rivalling boomerang-style loop animation – and even high-end effects like a once-only-acheiveable-using-a-DSLR, long-exposure capture.
Also getting a complete redesign with the upcoming software upgrade, is Control Center.
Now offering users access to their most-used settings in just one panel that slides up with a swipe from the bottom of the screen, from here they can toggle and control things like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Cellular and “Do Not Disturb,” alongside now playing music – and more …
Plus, force touching on a setting within iOS 11’s newly redesigned Contol Center will see further options presented for that specific set of controls.
Maps in iOS 11 is gaining a few notable additions which include the introducing of detailed floor plans for malls, as well as place cards, directory and search while you’re there.
Initially, Federighi notes, this new support will be live for malls located in Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Tokyo and Washington DC.
The feature also set to go live for U.S airports – later this year.
Meanwhile, Apple is beefing up ‘Do Not Disturb’ for drivers with a new addition called: ’Do Not Disturb Whilst Driving.’
The new feature -similar to the just released ‘Theatre Mode’ on Apple Watch– will see drivers able to choose whether or not they wish to receive notifications on their iPhone, whilst driving.
Once activated, the display of the driver’s iPhone will remain off until tapped – and when tapped, they’ll receive an automated on-screen notification reminding them that they are not receiving notifications at this time.
Similarly, senders who try to contact drivers when this feature is activated will be greeted with a (possibly customisable?) message… that will aim alert them the driver is not receiving messages at this time due to them driving.
In the case of a genuine emergency, however, the sender need only type the word ‘URGENT’ and the temporary notification and messages ban on the driver’s iPhone will be lifted – immediately.
Federighi says Apple is using three methods to determine whether a person’s iPhone is currently connected to a car, the first of those being Bluetooth. If bluetooth is for whatever reason not available, the system will revert to using Wi-Fi. Lastly, it will fall back on the doppler-effect.
Next up was Apple’s ‘Home’ app that, with the public release of iOS 11, will include full support for controlling your HomeKit-compatible wireless speakers. The upgrade will specifically bring with it support for controlling speakers in multiple rooms of the house, as the software provides easily adjustable controls for each connected unit.
The support arrives ahead of a new feature set to hit Apple Music: User Profiles.
Just as we predicted in our opinion piece: User Profiles Could Be Apple Music’s Missing Key, published back in March, Apple on Monday officially announced it would be adding support for users to create their own public (or private) profile on the streaming service through which they can share both their ‘Up Next’ now-playing queue, alongside their frequently listened to playlists – with friends.
(You can trust me when I say … I’m going to be using this: A lot).
Which brings us nicely onto Federighi’s next tentpole …
Announcing that Apple Music now has 27 Million subscribers, the executive detailed how iOS 11 would allow members to see what albums, songs and playlists their friends are listening to the most – right now, in addition to being able to dive in to their profiles for a more fine-grain analysis of their music tastes.
Of course, the company didn’t stop there.
In addition to adding support for public user profiles on Apple Music, and a soon-to-be-visible ‘Friends are Listening To’ section in the service’s “For You” tab, the firm also announced MusicKit – a new set of tools designed specifically to allow third-party developers to be able to access a user’s “For You” recommendations, featured music, charts, the ability to search playlists, stations, catalog …and more.
But perhaps the biggest change in iOS 11 … was left until last.
Enlisting Phil Schiller to give those in attendance the rundown of what’s new with its digital app distribution system, the company announced that the iOS App Store now has 500 Million visitors a week who have so far downloaded over 180 Billion apps, (auto re-downloads and updates not included), as Schiller noted that Apple has now paid out over $70 Billion to developers.
Offering up Pokemon GO as just one example of the App Store’s sheer power, when it comes to convincing users to download third-party developed apps, Schiller said that -with the help of developers and the team at Apple- the App Store had become “the best app platform in the world” …
… and just ahead of the App Store turning 9-years old, the executive on Monday announced a major redesign was coming to the store that will bring a whole new visual look in keeping with iOS 11’s continuation of iOS 10’s aesthetic, while at the same time also introducing support for things like; phased app releases, the auto-renewal of in-app subscriptions with Apple Pay, the ability to schedule a call with app users… and more.
It starts with the “Today” tab.
The new home of app discovery, Schiller says the tab will serve as a place for Apple to feature the apps we all love – alongside the developer stories that made them possible.
This redesign will also include a dedicated tab for Games with a brand new section that (for the first time) will feature individual in-app purchases, right alongside their related titles.
Of course, apps are still there too… but they’ve been somewhat relegated in light of games being more popular among users – according to Apple, to the store’s third tab along.
So those are just a few of the features you can expect to see in iOS 11.
The first beta of iOS 11 is already available to download by developers via the Developer Center.
Providing you have an active annual subscription to the Apple Developer Program, you can grab a copy of Apple’s premiere beta of the software at developer.apple.com/download.
Those without an Apple Developer Program membership will still be able to get in on the action, however they’ll have to wait until the end of the month when Apple will release the software’s first public beta.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as to when you can get your hands on it … In the meantime, though, you should get yourself over to beta.apple.com if you haven’t already – and register your interest.
iOS 11 will be a free download this fall for those rocking an iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation).
Stay tuned! – We’ll have a whole lot more from WWDC17 in the coming hours …