Apple's updated iPhone and iPad operating system will be available for download September 19.

By John Patrick Pullen
September 18, 2017

Apple’s updated iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 11, will be available for download September 19. With it comes an array of new features, from support for augmented reality to peer-to-peer payments via your Apple hardware. As you wait for the company to release its latest update for your iPhone or iPad, review some of the best new improvements that are about to come your way.

Augmented reality

Poised to be mobile computing’s next big thing, augmented reality will gain its Apple foothold with iOS 11, as the company has released guidelines for developers to delve into other computing dimensions. Designed with future iPhone models in mind, new augmented reality apps will work with older iOS 11-compatible devices, though maybe not as well as the forthcoming iPhone X and iPhone 8.

Camera enhancements

One great thing about operating system upgrades is how they can make existing hardware even better. For instance, iPhones and iPads that install iOS 11 will see a few new tricks in the Camera app. The iPhone 7 Plus will now have optical image stabilization, True Tone flash, and HDR in its Portrait mode. Another treat is that Live Photos will gain loop and bounce effects (making for more entertaining gifs).

New iPad tools

Between bulking up its iPad Pro options and promising better business apps, Apple seems dedicated to turning iPads from content consumption devices into office workhorses. iOS 11 is very much centered on this, offering an array of features to help iPads get the job done. Some, like new “drag and drop” capabilities are no-brainers. Others, like a new Files app that lets users store and retrieve specific files are overdue. But it may be the addition of an iPad Dock and better split screen capabilities that will make it feel like the time has come for iPads in the office.

A more convenient Control Center

In iOS 10, users used to pull the Control Center up from the bottom of the screen and then flick across, revealing several separate panels that performed various tasks. While these were be helpful, the shortcuts were often just as cumbersome as the tasks they hoped to circumvent. iOS 11’s control center is customizable, now filling the phone’s screen with bubble-styled icons that fill the full screen and make it easier to tweak key functions on your phone, fast.

A new and improved App Store

Apple’s various products have undergone myriad changes in the 10 years since the App Store has been in business. Now it’s time for the app that sells apps to get its due. Dedicated tabs like “Today” and “Games” will springboard App Store users into the categories that they’re interested in most. Video previews will be more prevalent than before, and richer writeups on the programs will help app shoppers become better informed on what they’re about to buy or download.

Improved Siri smarts

Enhancements to Siri always seem to fly under the radar, but iOS 11 users should be able to detect the improvements to Apple’s voice assistant technology fairly quickly. The first way will be through listening to Siri’s voice, which promises to be more natural and expressive, using intonation and other human sounding tricks to get the message across. The new version of Siri can also translate English into French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish, on the fly, making it a great traveling companion.

A do-not-disturb the driver mode

Distracted driving is a big problem that Apple has repeatedly tried to fix. From Siri-enabled, hands-free hardware in cars to CarPlay capabilities in some stereos, the company has repeatedly tried to dissuade drivers from holding onto their handset and the steering wheel at the same time. iOS 11 has a new Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that can automatically trigger when the iPhone detects vehicle movement and specific Bluetooth connections, making sure that the phone stays dark while users are on the road. It can also send an automatic reply to certain contacts to let them know that you’re driving, if you get a text while you’re behind the wheel.

Peer-to-peer Apple Pay

Coming this fall, Apple Pay gets personal. Expanding beyond the company’s original vision of letting users pay for purchases using their iPhone, iOS 11 lets the handsets exchange funds between themselves. When the feature goes live, you’ll be able to use messages or ask Siri to send a payment. Or, if you have a WatchOS 4-packing Apple Watch, you can do it all with the flick of a wrist.

 

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