iOS 11 was unveiled by Apple at its WWDC 2017 keynote on 5 June, with big improvements over its iOS 10 predecessor. Here, we bring you everything we know so far about iOS 11, including its release date and new features.
Apple also used WWDC 2017 to unveil macOS 10.13 High Sierra, watchOS 4, new MacBook Pro models, new iMac models, a new iMac Pro, new iPad Pro models and an all new speaker called the HomePod. It was a busy keynote, that's for sure. You can recap the whole thing here.
It’s been updated throughout the year so far, including the latest update numbered 10.3 which added Find my AirPods and a new file system, and Apple has now revealed that 86% of iOS devices have updated to iOS 10 since its release.
Now, though, iOS 11 is coming. But when will iOS 11 be released? What new features will it gain? You can find out the answers to those questions and more right here.
When is iOS 11 coming out?
Apple’s most recent full-version update of iOS, iOS 10, was released to the public in September 2016 having been previewed at WWDC 2016 in June and released to developers just hours after the event.
Apple has followed the same custom this year, with iOS 11 available for developers now.
So far, Apple's confirmation for the final iOS 11 release date is simply "Fall" (or Autumn for us here across the pond).
Both betas will be steadily updated for testing, allowing developers and early adopters to trial the software before it’s made available to the general public.
Updating to the final public version of iOS 11 will be straightforward and free; downloading and installing one of the beta versions will be a little more difficult, and setting up a developer account costs $99 per year. For information on both processes, see How to install iOS 11.
What new features does iOS 11 have?
Apple's WWDC 2017 saw a huge number of new features unveiled for iOS 11, it was hard to keep up! Here, we've got a summary of each of the biggest. Many are exclusively for the iPad, but we'll talk about the features coming to iPad, iPhone and iPod first.
Redesigned App Store
One of the biggest iOS 11 updates is the redesigned App Store. Launching the app will first take you to the new Today tab, which is designed to help with app discovery. You'll see new Collections, a Daily List centred around a particular theme, and even tutorials that show you how to do particular things in new apps.
A second new tab is called Games, and is a dedicated place to discover both new and popular games, as well as in-app purchases for games you may already own which are available to view and download right there within the App Store. You'll see previews, tips and gameplay videos within the Games tab too.
Apps also gets its own, similarly designed tab for the rest of the content available on the App Store.
Control Centre, Lock Screen and Notifications
Lock Screen and Notifications have now been combined into one screen, but more excitingly Control Centre has been redesigned and is finally more customisable.
It now packs all of the features into one page, and has new sliders. It also has 3D Touch to allow quick access to more settings and features, which looks like it's going to make life a lot easier.
New Messages features
iOS 11's Messages app has been updated with several new features including a new app drawer, which contains stickers, the new Apple Pay peer-to-peer feature that lets you pay contacts via iMessage, and lots more.
Apple Pay's new feature still uses the TouchID fingerprint sensor, and money recieved will go into your Apple Pay Cash Card, which you can use for further Apple Pay payments or to transfer money back into your bank account.
There's also new Messages in iCloud that'll automatically synchronise all of your conversations across all of your iOS and macOS devices.
Apple has added a new QuickType keyboard too, which on iPhone will mean you can use the device easier one-handedly. It will move the keys closer to your thumb for one-handed typing.
Siri has a new, more natural male and female voice, as well as a new visual interface.
Apple also added new features to Siri including the ability to translate what you say into German, French, Italian, Chinese or Spanish, with further languages being added soon. It also works better with Apple Music to help suggest songs you might like.
Siri is also becoming more intelligent in iOS 11. It will now use on-device learning to discover more about you, and therefore imrpove suggestions when you're in particular apps. For example, if you're looking at a particular place or topic in Safari, Siri can suggest related words and items in Mail, Messages and other apps.
For developers, SiriKit is coming to bring its capabilities into more apps.
Additionally, although Apple didn't talk about it during the keynote, it looks like you'll be able to type to Siri rather than always being forced to speak out loud.
New Camera features
The camera software also has lots of improvements, including improved image quality. Portrait Mode in the iPhone 7 Plus can be taken with Optical Image Stabilisation, True Tone flash and HDR, for example.
A new Depth API is being released for developers, which means they'll be able to use the iPhone 7 Plus's camera to add more depth information to their app.
Apple has also added a new technology called High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) that reduces the file size of your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus photos.
The camera is also getting a QR scanner built-in.
Live Photo Effects
You can now chose just the frame you want from a Live Photo to make your Key Photo, and there are also new 'Effects' available to use with Live Photos.
The new Loops effect will turn your Live Photo into an infinite video loop, Bounce will play and then reverse the clip. And a really cool feature means you can combine Live Photos to create a Long Exposure effect, perfect for waterfalls or city shots, for example.
Indoor Maps and Lane Navigation
Maps of airports and shopping malls are coming soon, and we're also about to get information about your speed, and lane navigation.
iOS 11 will bring Do Not Disturb While Driving, too. When activated, it'll send people trying to get in touch with you a note to say that you'll see the message when you arrive at your destination.
AirPlay 2 & Apple Music improvements
A new AirPlay protocol brings lots of new features for speakers including multi-room support, and there's an AirPlay 2 audio DPI for develpers.
You'll also now be able to see what your friends have been listening to in Apple Music thanks to new public profiles.
Plus, developers will get access to a new Apple Music API to introduce its library to other apps such as Nike+ Run Club and Shazam.
Apple has also redesigned the Podcast app.
Which iOS 11 features are exclusive to the iPad?
We mentioned earlier that there are also lots of features coming in iOS 11 that will be exclusive to iPad users. These features are all quite simple and focus on productivity, but they're key to making the iPad a more powerful and useful device. It feels like Apple is slowly but surely creating a tablet that can take on a laptop, and with this update and its new iPad features it's certainly getting there.
The new Dock in iOS 11 for iPad means that you'll be able to access your favourite and most frequently used apps or files quickly and easily from any screen. In addition to the Dock, a new App Switcher design is going to make life easier when you want to quickly change apps or open new ones.
Plus, system-wide Drag and Drop means you can move pretty much anything between any app for much quicker and easier ways of working. An image, for example, can be dragged and dropped directly into an email. This sounds very simple, but was a tedious process before so is a much-welcomed addition.
A new Files app
As per the rumours, iOS 11 features a new app called Files. Like the multi-tasking features, it's designed to make life easier for power users.
Files will keep all of your documents in one easy-to-use place. You'll be ale to drag and drop attachments from Mail or any other app into a particular folder, or create folders to help stay organised and find what you're looking for faster. It's going to make multitasking so much quicker, and brings the iPad Pro a lot closer to an alternative to a laptop.
For iPad Pro models, the Apple Pencil has become better than ever thanks to new integrated support for inline drawing, and a new Instant Notes feature that lets you open the Notes app directly from the Lock Screen with a simple tap.
Which iPhones & iPads can get iOS 11?
The devices that'll be able to update to iOS 11 are:
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 5s
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd Gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- iPad Pro 10.5-inch
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Air
- iPad 5th Generation
- iPad 4th gen
- iPad mini 4
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 2
- iPod Touch 6th gen
We look at this in more depth in a separate article: Can my iPhone and iPad run the new version of iOS?