There are dozens of new features in iOS 11, the upcoming update to the iOS operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. In small but significant ways, Apple has altered the look and interface of the OS, and added important features that will change the way you communicate with your friends, travel, get your news, listen to music and (particularly on iPad) work on the go. Read next: iOS tips

There are more changes, indeed, than could reasonably be covered in a single article. Instead, we're going to pick out our top 5: the new features you're going to love most when the update drops tomorrow (19 September).

iOS 11 will be made available to everyone running a compatible device - iPhone 5s or later, iPad mini 2, iPad Air 1 or later, or iPod touch sixth generation - as a free update. 


The first thing we noticed when we installed the beta, this is also probably the most significant change to the interface.

The old dock was just a set of four to six app icons (usually your most-used apps) that were always at the bottom of the Home screen. Now you can have far more icons in it (we've seen as many as 14) and it does much more, too.

For one thing, the apps that appear in the Dock to the right of the line are dynamic - either recently used, or currently being used on other devices you use, thanks to Handoff.

And the Dock is now accessible from any screen, not just the Home screen(s): swipe up from Safari, say, and it'll pop up, giving you easy access to your favourite apps - and if you tap and hold one of the icons so it starts jiggling, you can drag it on to the main screen and it'll turn into a split screen tab, if your screen supports it in your current viewing orientation.

iOS 11 tips: Dock

App switcher

The Dock is accessible from anywhere by swiping upwards, so you might be wondering what happened to Control Centre. Wonder no more: just continue your upward swipe further up the screen and the new Control Centre will appear too, with the Dock at the bottom.

Actually, assuming you're assuming an iPad, it doesn't stop there. As well as the Dock (at the bottom) and the Control Centre toggles and app shortcuts (on the right), you'll find that most of the screen is taken up by the app switcher, showing your four most recently opened apps; tap one to jump to it, or swipe right to see more.

Unlike in the old app switcher (accessed by double pressing Home) you can't swipe up to close one of these apps. You have to hold one until the corner X symbols appear, like on Home screen app icons.

iOS 11 tips: App switcher

Customise Control Centre

While we're on the subject of Control Centre, how would you like to customise what appears in it? In iOS 11, you can.

Open the Settings app and tap Control Centre > Customise Controls.

The controls at the top are the ones that are currently included: tap the red symbol to remove them, or use the triple-line icon on the right to drag them around and change the order in which they appear. The ones below are not currently shown: tap the green symbol to add them.

iOS 11 tips: Customise Control Centre

Instant Notes

We love instant actions - being able to swipe left from the Lock screen to jump into Camera is brilliant. Apple's added another one to let you take notes suddenly for those "Quick! Grab a pencil!" moments.

Tap your Apple Pencil on the Lock screen and you'll jump into Notes, ready to scribble down whatever couldn't wait.

iOS 11 tips: Instant Notes

One-handed QuickType keyboard

A couple of the features we've discussed so far have been exclusively for iPad, so here's one that's laser-targeted at iPhone owners. It's a new optional keyboard layout that pushes the keys over to one side so they're closer to your thumb: ideal for one-handed typing.

It's activated in the same way as other alternative keyboards: open Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard, and look and tap the new layout. Now whenever you're using the system keyboard, tap the globe icon to bring up your keyboards palette and select the alternative layout.

iOS 11 tips: One-handed keyboard