iOS 11 video player gets a serious upgrade

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iOS 11 video player
The iOS 11 video player even supports YouTube's auto-generated captions, not that you'll ever want to use them.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iOS 11 has gotten a big upgrade to its QuickView video player, the one that takes care of videos playing in apps, on web sites, and so on. Previously you only got a basic video scrubber, a volume slider, and a play button. Now, you can not only access subtitles and AirPlay right from the video screen, but you can control pretty much everything in the new iOS 11 video player with a keyboard.

All-new interface in iOS 11 video player

First up, the new on-screen controls. When you’re watching a video in either full-screen, or in the embedded view where the video sits in the surrounding page, you can now play and pause like before, but you can also tap controls to skip forward and back by 15 seconds. The volume slider has been replaced by a mute toggle, but if you swipe on this new icon, a slider appears. You can also toggle full-screen and (on compatible iPads) Picture in Picture view, as well as choosing an AirPlay device or Apple TV as a destination for sound or video. There’s also a new subtitles button. If the video has subtitles, this switches them on and off. It even works with YouTube videos that have auto-generated subtitles, which is pretty rad, although those subs are often pretty bad.

Full keyboard control

The keyboard controls for vidoe on iOS 11 might be better than the Mac's.
The keyboard controls for vidoe on iOS 11 might be better than the Mac's.
Photo: Cult of Mac

But perhaps best of all is the full keyboard control. This starts with the basics — the spacebar toggles play/pause, for example — but quickly goes nuts, control-wise. You can control the volume with the up/down arrow keys, skip back and forward by 15 seconds, return to the beginning, rewind and fast-forward, and even step through your video one frame at a time.

This is pretty amazing stuff. For instance, if you use a keyboard cover, this is a fast way to pause a movie when you go to the bathroom. I play guitar, and often watch videos to learn a new song. Now I can tap keys to repeat sections, instead of having to tap the screen, then scrub, losing my place on the guitar as I go.

Perhaps most interesting is that this all remains hidden from view for most users. The keyboard control is definitely there for power users, which — when taken with all the new features for the iPad in iOS 11 — shows that Apple really is making the iPad into a tool for professionals.