Apple Releases iOS 11; Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 11, proudly claiming this latest iteration of the software to be “a giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.”:

iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to amazing possibilities for augmented reality in games and apps. With iOS 11, iPhone and iPad are the most powerful, personal, and intelligent devices they’ve ever been.

The New Features That We Think You Will Like

The iPad Becomes More Powerful and Productive

It is arguably iPad owners who will be most excited by the release of iOS 11, as it introduces a number of features and capabilities specific to the iPad.

Although not limited to the iPad, the new Files app offers to make the iPad a viable laptop alternative for some, as it allows you to easily browse, search, and organize all your files in one place; . including files in apps, on your other iOS devices, in iCloud Drive, and across other services like Box and Dropbox.

The Dock on the iPad is now available from any screen; making it easier to open and switch apps. It can display more of your favorite apps, and can intelligently display apps based upon what you are currently doing. With this and with the multitasking features new to the iPad in iOS 11, it is now easier to access, and use apps in ways that best match and optimise your personal use case and workflow.

Drag and Drop is also new to the iPad in iOS 11, enabling you to move just about anything — or things — anywhere on the screen. This can be within an app or between apps when multitasking. It does appear that Apple has worked hard to ensure that VoiceOver users are not excluded from the power of Drag and Drop, by making it available through the Actions menu of the VoiceOver rotor.

There is a new onscreen keyboard for the iPad, which has letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks all on the same keyboard. This is supposed to remove the need to switch back and forth. Sighted users just flick down on a key to quickly select what they need, so it will be interesting to see if the experience for VoiceOver users is equally as easy and productive.

Apple has also introduced a number of new features and capabilities for those who use an Apple Pencil with their iPad Pro.

For a more complete discussion of how the new iPad features work for VoiceOver and Braille users, please read Scott Davert's detailed look at what's new in iOS 11 for blind, low vision and deaf-blind users.

Color Inversion Gets Smart

iOS 11 introduces a new "Smart Invert" option which ignores photos, videos and some other screen and page elements when inverting the colours used by your device.

This option can be enabled under Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colors. The old invert option is also available here, but is now called "Classic Invert".)

During the beta cycle, Apple was very responsive to suggestions of further items that should be "ignored" when using Smart Invert. So, we would strongly encourage you to reach out to Apple's Accessibility Team if you have additional suggestions of things to be ignored; or other ways in which Smart Invert could be enhanced.

There are, however, a few areas in which Smart Invert should be further improved for low vision users. Again, read Scott Davert's post elsewhere on this site for greater discussion of this feature and its current areas for improvement..

A Redesigned and More Powerful Control Center

The Control Center has seen a major redesign and is no longer spread across three panels.

In addition to the standard toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, Cellular Data, media controls, brightness, volume, rotation lock, do not disturb and Screen Mirroring there are 17 additional controls that you can add to Control Center. The latter can be managed under Settings>Control Centre, where you can configure which controls will be available and set their order.

The optional controls that can be added to the Control Center currently includes: Accessibility Shortcuts, Guided Access, Magnifier, Screen Recording, Text Size, Camera, Notes, Timer and Voice Memos.

In nearly every case, everything in Control Center is more than a simple toggle; and using 3D Touch or a long-press on an icon will reveal more settings or functionality.

Easy Screen Recording

iOS has gained a new screen recording tool that enables you to capture a video of what you are doing on your device, along with the option to also simultaneously record audio using your device's microphone.

To use this new feature, you will first need to add "Screen Recording" to the Control Center under Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.

Having done this, you will find a "Screen Recording" button in the Control Centre. Simply double-tap on this to start or stop recording. You can use either 3D Touch or a long press on this control to locate an additional option which allows you to either enable or disable the capture of microphone audio.

Once you stop recording, the video is saved to the Camera Roll on your device. Open the Photos app to find it. You can then view, edit and share the recording as you would any video you recorded using the camera app.

Type instead of talk to Siri

If you frequently find Siri mishearing you; use Siri in locations where you don't want to be speaking out lout; or simply don't enjoy the experience of talking with Siri, you now have the option to type your commands or questions.

To enable the feature, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Siri and toggle on Type to Siri . Now, when you long-press the Home button, Siri will display the familiar "What can I help you with?" question, but with a search bar and keyboard below.

If you want to have either the option to type or talk to Siri, you will need to also enable the "Hey, Siri" command under Settings > Siri & Search.

Give Your Thumb Less Distance to Stretch when Typing

Do you use VoiceOver's touch typing or direct touch mode when using the onscreen keyboard, and typically type with just the thumb of your hand that's holding the device? Then the new one-handed typing option might be for you.

Simply perform a 1 finger double-tap and hold on the emoji key on the keyboard. From the resulting menu, select either left or right handed, and the keys will be moved closer to that side of the screen - leaving your thumb with less distance to stretch.

A few More Notable Changes in iOS 11

  • The Notifications Center is now referred to by Apple as the "Cover Sheet", and visually looks the same as the Lock Screen. The changes aren't just in name or appearance, though, as only the most recent notifications will initially be listed here. To view older notifications, you will need to locate and activate the "earlier Today" section. Our early thoughts are that there are still some glitches in regard to reliability and consistency, and the Cover Sheet doesn't immediately feel like an improvement on the iOS 10 Notifications Centre.
  • The App Store has a new design that highlights editorial content and recommendations; introduces separate sections for "Games" and "Apps"; and redesigns the layout and content of app listings.
  • Siri has improved and more natural sounding voices.
  • Siri now supports translation in some languages - for example, ask Siri in English how to say something in Chinese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian, and Siri will translate the phrase.
  • Siri has got smarter and can now anticipate what you may want and make suggestions before you even ask.
  • iOS now supports augmented reality, allowing developers to create apps which enable you to view virtual content on top of real-world scenes
  • The iCloud Keychain manager now remembers login credentials for apps as well as websites.
  • There are new and improved tools for managing and freeing-up storage on your device. If you go to Settings>General>iPhone/iPad Storage, you will find an overview of storage usage on your device; app specific information; and some recommendations for freeing-up space. The latter includes the ability to "offload" an app whilst retaining the app's documents and data for if the app is reinstalled in the future.
  • There are some minor tweaks to the Messages app; including a new iMessage app drawer, a new Apple Pay app, and a couple of new screen effects. MB Apple confirmed on 18 September that person-to-person payments via Apple Pay will not be supported until later this Fall.
  • You can now create a profile in Apple Music, enabling you to share playlists with others and for them to see which albums and stations you listen to the most.
  • Apple Maps now includes indoor maps for hundreds of major airports and shopping centers around the world.
  • If you use Apple AirPods, you can now assign a double-tap option for each individual AirPod. So, you might have the left AirPod set to activate Siri, the right one to pause/play audio.
  • You now have more control over how often an app can access your location information. The first time you launch an app that always tracks your location, you will be prompted to change its permissions. Additionally, you may on occasions find a dialog is being displayed directly below the Status Bar; alerting you to the fact that an app is currently tracking you in the background, and prompting you to update its permissions.
  • If you need to provide somebody with access to your wi-fi network, you can approve the request directly on your iOS 11 device without having to remember or hand over the password.
  • You can now scan documents into the Notes app. This doesn't currently support OCR, but does use some clever technology for automatic recognition and cropping of documents.
  • When setting up a new iOS device, simply place it next to your old device and many of your personal settings, preferences, and iCloud Keychain passwords are quickly and securely imported.
  • Once devices supporting it become available, the new AirPlay 2 protocol will offer multi-room support for audio playback and control.

For a more complete list of what’s new in iOS 11, MacRumors offers a good overview.

And What About Accessibility?

For more information about accessibility-related changes in iOS 11, read our other posts elsewhere on the site:

What’s new and changed in iOS 11 Accessibility for blind, low vision and deaf-blind users
A list of new accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been introduced in iOS 11
A list of longstanding accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been fixed in iOS 11

In addition, Thomas Domville has recorded a short series of podcasts in which he discusses and demonstrates many of the changes and new features in iOS 11:

Exploring Some of What's New and Changed in iOS 11; Part 1
Exploring Some of What's New and Changed in iOS 11; Part 2
Exploring Some of What's New and Changed in iOS 11; Part 3
Exploring Some of What's New and Changed in iOS 11; Part 4

How to Update to iOS 11

iOS 11 is compatible with 64-bit devices only, meaning the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPad 4 do not support the software update. Apple lists all supported devices on its iOS 11 preview page.

iOS 11 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup of your phone on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process - so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.

More information on how to update the software on your iOS device is available on this Apple Support page.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update.

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Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I asked Siri to translate Hello, my name is bradley into French and it said, I can't translate from British English yet, sorry Bradley.

This is a little strange to me but I'm sure this will be fixed in the future.

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello brad. As of right now yes, this new feature will only work in one direction. That is from the United States (English) to 5 languages like Spanish, French, Chinese, and others. It also will not work now from those language back to United States (English). This is a work in progress and Apple will be expanding this as time goes on. So, watch for those updates as they come.