When will iOS 11 be released in the UK? And what new features will iOS 11 bring to our iPhones and iPads?
iOS 11 should be launched to the public in September 2017, after an unveiling in June 2017.
iOS 10, the latest and greatest version of iOS to date, was released to the public three months ago, and will continue to be updated through the rest of 2016 and 2017, but we're already looking ahead to iOS 11. When will iOS 11 be released? What new features will iOS 11 gain? On which iPad and iPhone models will iOS be able to run? We hope to answer these questions, and more, in this article.
In this article we sift through all the rumours and historical evidence pointing to the likely iOS 11 release date, as well as iOS 11's new features and system requirements.
So, what can we expect to see from Apple's 11th iteration of iOS? Although no details are yet confirmed, we've scoured the internet for the most interesting rumours regarding iOS 11, which you can find below. We'll be updating this article constantly, so make sure you check back every now and then for more news and rumours relating to the iOS 11 update.
Updated, 5 December 2016, to discuss Apple's patent for a touchscreen keyboard that positions itself to match your fingers; on 14 Nov, with reports that Apple is working on a more natural-sounding version of Siri at its unmarked Cambridge offices; on 7 Nov, with a concept video showing how the most exciting new feature upgrades could be integrated into iOS 11; and on 24 Oct, to discuss the prospects of Dark Mode turning up in iOS 11.
Concept illustration by Yasser Farahi
iOS 11 release date rumours: Release date
When will iOS 11 be released in the UK? Given that Apple's most recent full-version update of iOS, iOS 10, was only released to the public in September 2016, we've still got a while to wait.
iOS 11 will almost certainly be unveiled in June 2017 at WWDC, where Apple invites developers from across the world to take part in iOS development workshops while showcasing its annual software update. Apple will then release a developer beta version of the software for testing by its software partners.
We would imagine that there will, as with iOS 9 and iOS 10, be a public beta available alongside the private developer beta. This will allow early adopters to trial the software before it's made available to the general public.
Both betas will be steadily updated over the following months and come closer and closer to the finished public version of iOS 11, which be released in September 2017 alongside new iPhones.
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 a new version of iOS.
A new iOS lifecyle
Our colleague Dan Moren over at Macworld US recently speculated that iOS 9 would be the start of a new iOS lifecycle at Apple. Moren thinks that because the iPhone has matured over the years, it's not necessary to keep adding major new features on a yearly basis for the purpose of generating interest.
"The platform and the smartphone market as a whole have both evolved considerably," Moren wrote. "To me, the goal now seems one of sustainability: keeping the iPhone and its users updated and happy, possibly with a steady stream of smaller updates rather than a single major tentpole release every summer."
Moren uses iOS 9.3 as evidence - historically, Apple prefers to save its more interesting updates for numerical updates which, up until now, happened once every 12 months. The release of the iOS 9.3 beta so late in the iOS 9 life-cycle was a weird move from Apple, especially as it included genuinely significant new features like Night Shift mode, Touch ID protection for Notes and a number of new 3D Touch shortcuts, which would usually be considered major additions to iOS.
So iOS 11 might not be the blockbuster release we're currently expecting: it's possible that Apple will drip-feed new features and interfaces tweaks in point updates throughout the year. We're not totally convinced by this - iOS 10, after all, had a raft of major new features - but it's a possibility.
iOS 11 release date rumours: Which iPhones and iPads will be able to get iOS 11?
We reckon the iPad 4, iPad mini 2 and iPhone 5 will all miss out on iOS 11 compatibility, but we won't know for sure until the unveiling at WWDC 2017.
The following devices are able to install and run iOS 10:
- iPad 4, iPad Air 1, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4
- iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus (the latter two not listed below, of course, because they hadn't come out by this point)
- iPod touch (sixth generation)
We therefore predict that the following devices will be able to run iOS 11:
- iPad Air 1, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4
- iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
- iPod touch (sixth generation)
We look at this in more depth in a separate article: Can my iPhone and iPad run the new version of iOS?
iOS 11 release date rumours: New features
What new features will iOS 11 bring to the iPhone and iPad? At this early stage we've only heard a couple of rumours of new features in iOS 11, so here they are.
Apple has been granted a patent covering dynamic keyboard positioning on touchscreens, whereby the individual keys are placed in response to the detected position of the user's fingertips.
United States Patent 9,489,086, entitled Finger hover detection for improved typing, describes a concept whereby typing "is improved by dynamically and automatically positioning the desired home-row keys of an onscreen keyboard below the user's fingers while their fingers are hovering above the surface, thus reducing the need for the user to look at the onscreen keyboard while typing".
We wouldn't be surprised if the concept appears in the system-wide keyboard (albeit presumably as an option) in a future update of iOS, although it appears to be targeted at tablets only. This wouldn't be the first iOS feature to be restricted to iPad use, of course: the most famous example is probably the split-screen viewing modes added to the iPad with the launch of iOS 9.
While the granted patent was published in November 2016, this is in effect a ratification of Apple's acquisition of the patent when it bought Typesoft Technologies back in September 2014; Typesoft's Dryft virtual keyboard uses a similar principle in an effort to enable touchscreen touch-typing, as shown in the following video:
Finally, and quite aptly if we've got this right, there appears to be a typo in the introduction specifically where the patent is talking about making typos.
"While there have been numerous proposals for disambiguating error-prone user input," reads the last sentence of the introduction, "many such proposals rely heavily on linguistic context and are unable to resolve interchangeable alternatives (e.g., where a user strikes ambiguously between keys T and 'o' followed by 'n' leaving uncertainty whether "in" or "on" was intended)." (Surely that's meant to be 'i' and 'o', rather than T and 'o'? Although we are happy to be corrected!)
Siri was a figure of fun in the early days (it used to have a fair bit of trouble with British accents), but it gets better and more useful with every passing year. And the word is that Apple wants to make it sound more human, too.
That's what the company is up to in a secret operation "in an unmarked office at 90 Hills Road, Cambridge", according to Business Insider and the "multiple sources" it says corroborate the account.
(The secret Apple office is apparently next door to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. We've been there. Protip: it's nice.)
"Those working inside are aiming to make Siri talk more naturally, according to a source that knows a number of Apple's Cambridge employees," reports the site.
Part of the reasoning here is that a large proportion of the site's current staff were previously employed by the voice recognition startup VocalIQ, which Apple acquired in 2015.
At the moment Siri is comparatively limited in terms of artificial intelligence, an area of development that Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others have focused on in recent months; it's believed that VocalIQ's tech - which doesn't appear to have been added to Siri yet - represents Apple's great hope for this burgeoning field.
Read next: Siri troubleshooting tips
It was widely expected that iOS 10 would feature a new viewing mode called Dark Mode, with black backgrounds designed to easier on the eyes when viewing at night. In fact, Apple announced exactly that, but for tvOS instead, and we're still waiting for iOS's Dark Mode. We're pretty sure it'll turn up in iOS 11, if it hasn't been added in an iOS 10 point update before then.
In fact, it's been discovered that Dark Mode already exists in iOS 10, and was there as early as iOS 10 beta 1 released back in June - it just hasn't been unlocked yet. We're unsure why Apple bothered to add the feature if it didn't plan to enable it in the near future, but it may be that beta testing exposed issues with the feature that dissuaded the company from turning it on just yet.
If you want to know more about Dark Mode - how to activate it on Mac or Apple TV, the chances of it arriving on iPhone and iPad, and some other Settings options in iOS 10 that produce similar effects when viewing an iPhone or iPad screen at night, see How to enable Dark Mode on Mac & Apple TV, and when will Dark Mode come to iPhone & iPad?
Contact availability status
A patent that has recently been granted shows that Apple is considering a new feature that would enable iPhone users to view at a glance whether their contacts are available for a conversation, and where they are.
The abstract of the patent reads:
"A command is received at an operating system of a first mobile phone for displaying contact information of a remote user having a mobile phone number of a second mobile phone. In response to the command, a request is transmitted to a remote server from the first mobile phone over a cellular network requesting an operating status of the second mobile phone.
"The operating status of the second mobile phone is received from the remote server over the cellular network. The operating status of the second mobile phone is displayed on a display of the first mobile phone as a part of contact information of the remote user associated with the second mobile phone, where the operating status includes current locality of the second mobile phone."
Which sounds complicated, but can be further summarised as a system that detects where your friends are, and whether they're available and the operating status of their iPhone (such as silent or Airplane mode), and presents that information in the Contacts app. If you're thinking that has the whiff of surveillance about it - well, it does, but only to the same extent as Find My Friends, and it would presumably be optional for both parties.
iOS 11 release date rumours: New features wishlist
Here at Macworld UK we put our heads together and thought about some of the features we'd like to see included in iOS 11, from small changes to completely new ideas - and here are our favourites.
The P9 is one of a number of Huawei phones to offer a feature called Wi-Fi+ (or Wi-Fi+ 2.0). This encompasses a number of elements, such as the prioritisation of stronger connections, but the one we like best is its ability to automatically turn Wi-Fi on or off depending on your location. It remembers the location of known networks and activates in order to join them, but when you leave the area it turns Wi-Fi off to save battery.
Given the iPhones' recent difficulty competing on battery life with the top-end Android devices, something along these lines would be a fine addition to iOS 11.
Ability to change video resolution in-app
One of the selling points of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is that they're able to record in full 4K resolution at 30fps, as well as the standard 1080p at 60fps or 30fps. The only issue we have is that there is no easy way to change between the resolutions from within the Camera app, and we have to exit the app, head to Settings > Camera to be able to change it.
Certain situations, such as filming in low light, require a lower frame rate (less frames = more light captured) and changing it manually takes around 10-15 seconds, which isn't ideal. We would love a way to quickly change the resolution and frame rate, possibly by tapping an icon in the Camera app. It’s a simple change to make, and would be largely appreciated by those that like to capture video on their iPhones.
View Favourites in Contacts app
Another fairly simple change we'd like to see made in iOS 11 is the ability to view and edit the list of favourites, currently only found in the Phone app. It makes sense to be able to access your favourite contacts from within the Contacts app, and we're not quite sure why Apple hasn't yet added this functionality. Sometimes we want easy access to our contacts for other reasons, not just for calling!
Customise the Control Centre
The Control Centre is one of the most underrated features of iOS, enabling easy access to various toggles and controls without having to open the Settings app. The only issue we have is that we can't personalise any of the toggles, as we'd like to be able to swap out little-used toggles for shortcuts to apps/settings we frequently use. For example, we very rarely use the Control Centre to access the Calculator app - we'd much prefer easy access to Twitter, for example.
While on the topic of the Control Centre, we'd like to be able to quickly access the settings of each of the toggles with a force touch on the latest iPhones. For example, we'd like to be able to force press the Wi-Fi toggle to quickly access the Wi-Fi menu to connect to a new network.
iOS 11 release date rumours: Leaked images and concept videos
Theodory's concept video features many of the functions and upgrades we've been hoping to see in the next version of iOS, from a customisable Control Centre to Dark Mode.
There are some more leftfield inclusions as well, however, including the ability to 3D Touch on a number key in the Phone app as a sort of quick-dial function, fingerprint-protected toggles in the Settings app, and a Smart Sleep Mode for listening to music at bedtime: Siri interrupts every five songs to ask (presumably fairly quietly) if you're still awake, and if you don't reply, it turns off the music. Lovely idea, that last one.
iOS 10 screenshots and videos
While we wait for more iOS 11 screens and videos, here are some concept videos made ahead of the launch of iOS 10 - needless to say, there's plenty of interesting stuff that didn't appear in iOS 10 and could yet make an appearance in iOS 11.
First up, here's a concept video of new rumoured features by iPhone-Tricks:
Sam Beckett, working with Federico Viticci, came up with this concept video. It's a cracker:
Designer and animator Sam Beckett made an interesting and good-looking concept video showing a new Control Centre with 3D Touch features, a Dark Mode and more.
iOS 11 release date rumours: Macworld poll - will you update to iOS 11?
Do you plan to update your iPhone and iPad devices to iOS 11? Have your say in our new poll.