iOS 11 – Top new features and additions

Simon Ejsing | June 6, 2017

The opening day of WWDC is a special occasion to Apple fans. Especially the keynote where the latest OS updates and new hardware are revealed. At Nodes the day after the keynote is where we discuss new features and hardware in detail, and how they could affect our clients which is what happened today. Since it can be a big task to go through so many new features we have put what we consider to be the most crucial on a list. We find 11 of them so interesting that we did a special list for those new features.

Top 10 features

QR codes natively supported
The camera app now scans and recognizes QR codes automatically. This means that iOS will automatically open a URL in Safari or open a deep link inside an installed app. You could even send the user to the App Store to download your app, if it’s not already installed (via a universal App Store / Google Play link).

NFC Reader Mode
Developers can now use the NFC reader in the iPhone to do whatever they dream up. This is something we’ve been wanting for years. It is a first step towards getting a truly digital wallet, where the phone can replace plastic cards with chips.

Business Chat
Apple has shared very little information, but we do know that this is a competitor to Facebook’s “Messenger for Business” that allows businesses to easily communicate with their customers via text messages.

Expanded SiriKit
Apple is now offering more “Domains” and “Intents”, which allows third party apps to better utilize Siri on iOS devices. As an example, the new “Payments” domain allows users to ask Siri to send money to someone using the app of their choice.

Automatic uninstall of unused apps
This wasn’t highlighted by Apple in the keynote on Monday, but iOS 11 actually lets users automatically uninstall rarely used apps. We’d like to know how Apple categorizes an “unused app”, but we don’t have more details at this point. Luckily, this feature is disabled by default, so users will have to find it in Settings an actively enable it.

ARKit gives developers easy access to AR
Augmented Reality has been mentioned by Apple CEO Tim Cook a few times in the past. Apple is betting on AR to be the next big thing, because it is social and interacts with the real world. Steve Jobs once referred to the personal computer as a “bicycle for the mind”, and AR fits perfectly into this vision. AR can help you do things in the real world, whereas VR is about leaving the real world. Imagine a user manual overlaid on top of your dishwasher in the real world as you use it. Or imagine having a interactive cookbook in front of you guiding you in your every move as you cook the christmas dinner. One can only imagine what AR can make possible, and Apple has now made it easy for third party apps to get into the AR game. We’re very excited to see, where this will go.

Redesigned iMessage app drawer
iMessage apps aren’t going away. Apple has redesigned the interface and made it easier to use.

Drag and Drop is available everywhere
Apple has made drag ‘n’ drop available to developers, which means that it is now very easy to integrate. iOS handles the logic around content types and how different apps receive different types of content.

iPad branches off with pro features
Apple has done something quite different with iOS 11. Where the iPhone and iPad normally behave in the exact same way everywhere in the operating system, the iPad has now gained a lot of new features that aren’t available on iPhone. There’s a new Mac-like Dock, floating windows, drag ‘n’ drop between apps (iPhone only supports drag ‘n’ drop inside apps) and an Exposé-like multitasking view. The iPad is back and Apple wants you to take it seriously as a computing platform.

Apps over 100MB may download over Cellular connection after acknowledging the warning prompt
Apple has restricted the size of apps that can be downloaded via a cellular connection. It started out at 25 mb and has since been increased to 50 mb and then 100 mb. But with iOS 11, users can accept downloads above 100 mb. This is great news, because it means that we can safely build apps above 100 mb and know that end users can download them from anywhere.

App Store ratings are now based on all versions and can now be reset by the developer
Big changes are coming to the App Store with iOS 11. Ratings will be based on all versions of the app instead of just the latest version, which is the case today. This means that you’ll have a lot more ratings for your app, because it’s not reset for every update. Furthermore, Apple will now let developers reset their apps’ ratings in the App Store when they see fit.

Other tidbits

  • iMessage iCloud syncing; no more messages in the wrong order or deleted messages on one device appearing on another
  • New Control Center that’s customizable by the user
  • The new “Dock” on iPad can contain unlimited number of apps instead just 5-6 which is the case today
  • Recently used apps will be shown in the new iPad “Dock”
  • Files app gives access to files across cloud services and allows a user to quickly move files around between them
  • Multi room audio supported in Home app via AirPlay 2
  • Photos meta data syncs across devices (recognized faces, places, objects etc. will be the same across devices)
  • Type to Siri available as accessibility setting; shows keyboard when Siri is invoked
  • One handed zoom in Maps via double-tap-and-swipe like in the Google Maps app
  • Screen recording in Control Center
  • Screenshots are shown as a thumbnail overlay briefly in bottom left corner after being taken
  • Screenshots markup when opened from thumbnail overlay
  • Redesigned Podcasts app
  • Redesigned native App Store (no longer full of html and sluggish)
  • 3D Touch Safari tab switching
  • Flight status on lock screen from more intelligent Siri
  • More SiriKit for lists and others but not audio (no Spotify or Overcast, sadly)
  • Indoor mapping at select locations; added over time by Apple
  • Siri translation supported for e.g. German, French and Spanish
  • New Siri voice is more natural
  • Document scanning supported in Notes app
  • Keyboard supports swiping down for special characters and numbers
  • Live Photos effects: Loop, Bounce, long exposure
  • Live Photos: Select key photo
  • New compression technology for videos and photos (HEVC) – Images are saved in .HEIF to reduce file size on the iPhone 7.
  • Photos: New filter effects and new filter UI
  • Siri in Safari suggests to add e.g. purchased concert tickets as calendar event via notification
  • Customize Control Center with a whole screen full of toggles if you want
  • Lock screen replaces Notification Center; swipe down to lock (power button is going away in a few years)
  • Do not disturb while driving is a new mode that completely silents the devices; auto-replies “I’m driving” and can be replied with “urgent” to break through
  • One handed compact keyboard mode at side of the screen  
  • Homekit occupancy and duration triggers now available
  • Tracking prevention in Safari
  • Dark mode available in Settings; use a night to avoid bright light in a dimly lit room
  • Safari blocks autoplaying videos
  • iPad flash light added
  • iCloud family plans
  • AirPlay 2 more stable and runs audio stream on client device instead similar to Spotify Connect
  • Miniature volume control UI
  • Apple TV in Control Center allows quick remote control of Apple TV
  • Registers input before animation finishes everywhere in iOS
  • No app titles in the dock; only icons shown
  • Airpods customizable gestures for each ear (one for each); e.g. double tap to play on the left and double tap to skip track on the right (only one gesture for each ear can be set)
  • Low power mode can be accessed in Control Center
  • Business Chat is a new way of communicating with businesses; like Facebook does with Messenger
  • Direct message money in iMessage
  • Custom timer via force touch in Control Center
  • 4 easily selectable flashlight settings from Control Center via 3D Touch
  • Video player HUD updated with miniature volume control
  • GIFs now play in Photos app
  • Redesigned Calculator app
  • New storage management in Settings allows for easier cleanup with suggested actions
  • GIFs are grouped in an “Animated” album in Photos app
  • Select multiple jiggling icons to move them all at once on Home screen
  • Timers now be set in seconds
  • Instant note taking on iPad with Pencil
  • Siri has contextual understanding similar to Google Assistant
  • iCloud Drive replaces 1TB tier with 2TB at same price
  • When setting up a new iOS device, there’s now an option to hold it near an existing device to automatically copy over settings, preferences, and iCloud Keychain.

Let us know if you have any questions to the new features and hardware. We are always up for a talk about tech, and how it affects our daily day lives and that of the products we build.

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Simon Ejsing
Lead Project Manager

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