Apple has taken the wraps off of iOS 11, the next iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads. As usual, there are a bevy of features lined up for the new OS, along with a few clues as to what’s next on the device front.
“This is going to be the best and biggest WWDC ever,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, as he kicked off the keynote in San Jose, Calif. By the time iOS was on deck, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, took over to outline the latest iOS changes. Here’s a quick look:
Messages: In iOS 11, a redesigned apps drawer now brings up apps and stickers in Messages. iMessages are also automatically synchronized in iCloud, which helps to optimize storage by reducing the size of the cache.
Apple Pay: This is a big one — Apple Pay is now available for person-to-person payments. It’s integrated with messages as an iMessage app so money is sent and received right in the transcript. Federighi said Apple Pay will be available at 50 percent of US retailers by the end of this year.
Siri: Apple’s AI assistant Siri is getting smarter. Apple says it used deep learning to create a more natural sounding voice and change how Siri’s words are intoned and inflected. Additionally, Siri now uses on-device learning to suggest topics that might be of interest to users, based on Safari searches. For instance, upon entering the News app, the system will recommend certain articles based on browsing history. Similarly, Siri predicts when you might be typing an unusual word in Messages, based on Safari searches, and offers it in autocorrect.
Maps: The big change in Maps comes in the form of Mall Mode, which provides detailed floor plans of malls and lets users browse by floor. Apple is also bringing the support to major airports. There are also some updates to speed limit notifications and navigation.
ARKit: This is a new platform that will assist in the development of AR apps and tools. Services include motion tracking, plane estimation, ambient light estimation, scale estimation, and support for Unity, Unreal, and SceneKit.
HomeKit: Will now be able to access smart speakers inside HomeKit by way of multi-room audio support. Third-party audio apps will also gain access to the multi-room audio capability.
App Store: “We’re going to do something we’ve never done before. We’re going to completely redesign it,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said of the App Store. Apps are getting their own tab, similar to the existing Games tab.
Redesigns: The Control Center is getting a major redesign and is now a single page. 3D touch was also integrated into design to offer more feature access. Additionally, Lock Screen and Notification center were combined. Now, swiping down on the page brings up the lock screen with some notifications, and swiping up brings up all notifications.
iPad: Federighi said iOS 11 is the largest iOS release for iPad that Apple has ever done. Some new features include a new, larger dock with a predictive area and more apps. iPad is also getting Files, Apple’s new universal file system that brings together all files on the device. Files supports not only iCloud but also third party storage providers.
The conference keynote on Monday included updates for all four of Apple’s operating systems; in addition to the iOS, that includes OS X, watchOS, and tvOS. A beta of iOS 11 is available today to all developers. It will ship to everyone this fall.