iOS 11; is it Worth Upgrading

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The day has finally arrived. iOS 11 is here. But should you install it now, or would it be better to wait for the next update? To help you decide, I've tested some of the main new features and changes in this release.

A Note to Braille Users

One of the main new accessibility features in iOS 11 is easier editing in braille. As I do not own a braille display, I have not been able to test this. If you are a braille user, please read this post on accessibility bugs before upgrading as there is a serious braille-related bug in this release.

Hey Siri, What's New With You?

Apple's addition of the type to Siri feature is a very positive step forward for accessibility. Now people with speech impediments, or deaf people who don't normally communicate by speaking, finally have a way of interacting with Siri. But even if this doesn't apply to you, type to Siri is a useful feature. It's another example of how making technology accessible benefits everyone, not just people with the disability it's trying to address.

I've often wanted to type to Siri. Sometimes, Siri doesn't quite catch all the details of that quick message or reminder. Typing to Siri would be a good way of making sure all the details of your request are accurate, while still being quicker than launching the right app and tapping through menus. Sometimes it's easier to talk to Siri, and sometimes I'd prefer to type. I want to have the best of both worlds; I want to be able to choose, on each occasion, whether to speak or to type, without going into the settings to change it. And if you want that too, there's a way to set it up on newer devices. Enable type to Siri by going to settings > general > accessibility > Siri > and turning on type to Siri. Also turn on Hey Siri by going to settings > Siri and search > listen for Hey Siri. Then when you want to type, press and hold the home button, and when you want to talk, say hey Siri.

Siri now has the ability to translate from English into other languages. I wanted to test this, but I'm in the UK and, in Siri's words, "I can't translate from British English yet. Sorry about that." After I changed Siri's language to English US, translation worked as expected. More evidence that the Americans and the British are divided by a common language.

Apple also promised improved Siri voices, and the female US English voice does sound noticeably more natural. Like the other Siri voices, it can be used with Voiceover.

What's in that Picture?

AppleVis users will be eagerly anticipating VoiceOver's added ability to describe pictures with a 3-finger tap on the image. This is another important step in the right direction, and it could be a great feature one day, but it doesn't work well enough to be useful yet. In my testing, I tried it with photos, screenshots and various images from web pages, but it didn't tell me anything other than whether the images I tried were sharp or blurry. See Serina Gilbert's post for a more detailed review of this feature.

Dragging Around the Home Screen

I regularly have the urge to rearrange my home screen. Sometimes it's because I've just downloaded a new app, I can't find a good place for it in my existing folder structure, and so I end up rearranging everything else to find a sensible place for it. Sometimes it's because I've become dissatisfied with the categories I've been using. So I was glad of the new way of moving apps, introduced in iOS 10, because it made it even easier for me to confuse myself with a new home screen layout every couple of months.

In iOS 11, that's all changed again. Now, the "arrange apps" rotor action has gone. You will now need to double-tap and hold to go into edit mode. Once there, there will be a rotor action to start dragging the app or folder you are on. If you select that, you can then move to the place on the screen where you want to put the app you are dragging, and select from a very similar menu of options as in iOS 10, although slightly reworded: you can drop the item you are dragging before or after the one you are focusing on, or put it in to a folder. The one addition is the option to add another item to the drag session, which allows you to move multiple apps at once.

Managing Files

The new Files app allows you to see all of your files from cloud services: iCloud, Dropbox, and others. Currently, you can use it to manage files within iCloud, but for other services such as Dropbox, you can only view your files. It doesn't have the ability to move files between services, which is unfortunate as that would've been the main advantage of having multiple storage services in one place. The file management capabilities it does offer are easy to use; you simply use rotor actions to delete, move or copy files.

Finally, an Easier Way to Check Spelling!

VoiceOver users, myself included, have been complaining for years that checking spelling is difficult on iOS. This release goes a long way towards resolving that issue, with the addition of a "misspelled words" setting to the rotor, which appears when editing text. To get a list of suggested corrections, after you've found the word you want to change, turn the rotor to edit, choose select, then choose replace, and you can then flick left or right through the list of suggestions. I've found that the list of suggested replacements works more reliably than in previous iOS versions.


When I started testing iOS 11, I found it underwhelming. As I spent more time with it, I grew to like it. The improvements to Siri, and the rotor option for spelling, are welcome additions. There are smaller changes that I like, such as added verbosity settings that allow you to change whether table headers and row and column numbers are spoken, and the fact that message previews are once again automatically read in Mail. Some of the new features don't work quite as well as I'd like them to, but if you're not a braille user, and you don't rely on any 32-bit apps, I see no reason to avoid this upgrade.

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Submitted by Queenofeagles07 on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm so sorry if it's the wrong place to ask but I'm using Iphone 5S, should I download iOS11? I'm so excited about the new subtitles update..

Submitted by Jake on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If you have an iPad, there's absolutely no question but that iOS 11 is worth it. The drag/drop improvements and improved multitasking views alone, in addition to the other changes, make it an amazing upgrade. It's one of those things that may not hit you for a few days but, once you start using these features, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them especially if you have an iPad Pro and use VO with the large screen frequently as I do.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Did anyone else out there install iOS 11 on an iPad Mini 2 and after the update, does iOS 11 run more sluggish then iOS 10 or does it perform just as snappy? I am probably going to wait until iOS 11.1 is released before updating most of my devices but since my iPad Mini 2 is the oldest device I have, I don't feel like updating it to iOS 11 if this will make my iPad Mini become more sluggish and unresponsive. It runs somewhat pretty smoothly, still snappy enough to make me keep using my iPad, but if iOS 11 is going to make it too sluggish that the device is unuseable, then I'll just leave it on iOS 10. Would appreciate to hear from anyone who has updated a iPad Mini 2. Thanks!

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Installed iOS 11 last night and it is impressive. I had to come here to figure out the two finger swipe from the bottom to bring the dock back but after that, I seem to be doing mostly alright. I have a couple of questions:

1. If I have an app on the left, and one on the right as a floating window, SlideOver, how do I get rid of it? The only way I can do it is to remove the left app from the switcher but I know this isn't the right way.

2. I see that spaces are one-to-one only, it's not possible to have multiple instances of an app in more than one space, is this right?In general though, loving this update. I know I keep saying this and it's not just to brag, as someone who is entirely iPad only who literally sold his eight-core mac pro to go all in with iOS, I love this. Personally speaking, I don't need a traditional computer at all, my needs have been met with the 12.9 iPad Pro first gen, Workflow and iOS 11.

Submitted by Maria Georgakarakou on Saturday, September 23, 2017

First, please forgive me for not being able to find the right place to post this. I am totally blind but very interested in pictures and what is on them. I would like to know if anyone of you has discovered an app that can guide you so that you can know what picture you were going to take before having taken it. I know there are many applications that describe Pictures, I wonder though how you can take a picture correctly without knowing what is in front of your camera lens. Thanks very much and, again, forgive me for posting this in the wrong place.

Submitted by Uglješa on Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hi! So has anyone recently tested out iOS 11.2 on iPhone 5S? Actually my device has bunch of problems, and possibly a hardware falt. Currently it's stuck in the recovery mode, and I can do nothing about it. The only option left for me is to upgrade it to iOS 11, but if I see that it's not working good, I won't be able at any way to go back to 10.3.3! So, any thoughts? Thanks!

Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, December 8, 2017

If your phone is stuck, and all you can do is go to 11, what other options do you have? Use it as a paper weight?

Of course I am being a little silly, but i am also serious. What have you got to lose?

Hello! Yeah, actually you're right. But, I don't wish to get to a point that I don't like how 11 is doing on 5S, so I thought better not to touch anything if not needed since downgrade back to 10.3.3 is not possible at all. So I'd need a straight answer, how it feels having iOS 11 on 5S. If I have to, I'll update, but if not, I would better keep it.

Submitted by Chris on Tuesday, December 12, 2017


iOS 11 runs reasonably well on my 5s. I use it every day with no issues. If you're going to jump from 10.3 to 11, I'd say it's worth it. iOS 11.2 has fixed even more VoiceOver bugs and the system is working smoothly for me.