A giant step. A monumental leap. Apple’s not holding back in bigging up its latest mobile OS. And, as ever, there’s a list of new features as long as your arm – even if you had a super-stretchy arm you could dangle out of a third-storey window.
To pick some highlights, the iPad finally becomes a real boy (computer) with the new Dock, Files app, and drag-and-drop; and the iPhone gets into augmented reality – ideal when actual reality turns out to be rubbish.
Chances are many Stuff readers have already dived in. But if you’ve resisted temptation – or are terrified that installing iOS 11 will catapult your device into the heart of the sun – here are the most important bits of Apple’s latest and greatest, so you can come to a more rational decision…
iOS 11: Make it work
Apple’s good at supporting older hardware, but every year some devices don’t make the cut. Scroll to the bottom of Apple’s iOS 11 page and you’ll discover if it’s the end of the line for your pride and joy. (In short: sorry, iPhone 5 users, anyone with an iPod touch older than the 6th-gen, and iPads released before the original Air or mini 2.)
Even if your device is supported, plain sailing isn’t guaranteed. On an iPhone 6s, battery life feels like it’s been kicked in the face. It’s particularly terrifying to watch the percentage indicator plummet when using ARKit apps. That’s not to say you shouldn’t upgrade – avoiding doing so is a security risk; just know what you’re in for. On an iPhone 7 or 8, or any flavour of iPad from the Air 2 onwards, though, there are no such issues.
The upgrade process is nicely straightforward, whether done over-the-air, or when pretending the last decade never happened and plugging your device into iTunes. Do back-up before updating, though.
iOS 11: Design for the big screen
In design terms, you still get a grid of Home screen icons, although you’ll see changes in some apps once they’re launched. There’s a welcome shift towards more obvious affordances (textures/buttons), further distancing iOS from version 7’s over-the-top minimalism. And someone at Apple’s decided apps should have obnoxiously large headers you can see from across the street.
On iPad, you’ll also notice the Dock has changed. You can now fill it with over a dozen items, and it automatically stashes recent apps. More importantly, it can be accessed from any app by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This is vital for iOS 11’s reworked multitasking.
Now, instead of the dreadful Split Screen app picker, you drag an app from the Dock to set it in Slide Over; another drag plonks it in Split View. In theory, you can have three apps on the go at once – two in Split View and one in Slide Over – but setting that up is fiddly.
The app switcher has been overhauled as well. App thumbnails (including Split View pairings) sit alongside Control Centre. You can switch to any app/pairing with a tap.