iOS 11 lands on iPhone and iPad on September 19 — here’s what’s new

By

Auto Brightness iOS 11
iOS 11 changes everything.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In today’s Apple keynote, we got another look at the the new iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad. There are a lot of great new features for both devices — person-to-person Apple Pay, an all-new App Store, improved Siri, and a new kind of social network built around Apple Music. But the iPad is the real winner. iOS 11 brings multitasking features that unchain Apple’s “big iPhone,” and turn it into a computer to rival any Mac or PC.

Smarter Siri in iOS 11

siri
Siri gets smarter in iOS 11.

Siri now learns from your habits, and uses this knowledge to give smart suggestions, from music you’ll like, to news that might interest you. The virtual assistant can also translate to and from English from several other languages, just by asking. Siri also gets a slick new voice that sounds more human. Apple has used its latest machine-learning tech, combined with today’s ultra-powerful iPhones and iPads, to let Siri loose on your information without transmitting private data to Appel servers. This is the opposite of Google and Amazon’s strategy, which is to share everything.

Person-to-person payments

You have an Apple ID, and you have Apple Pay. Now, Apple has simply joined the two, so you can make payments to your friends, or to anyone with an iPhone, using iMessage to send the payment. This will be huge. Now you can pay your share of the dinner check without messing around with cash. Any money sent to you will be stored in a new Apple Pay Cash “card” in your Apple Wallet, ready to be spent, or to be transferred to your bank account.

Photos

The iPhone camera gets a bunch of great new filters, as well as a whole new space-saving file format (HEIF), and three new ways to view Live Photos. The Live Photos filters are the snazziest of the new features, but I really dig the new filters. They are subtle, and emulate some classic film looks. The new B&W portrait filters, in particular, are killer.

Do Not Disturb While Driving

Like the new Apple Cash payments via iMessage, Do Not Disturb While Driving could change the way we operate in the world. DNDWD silences notifications, and blanks the iPhone’s screen, whenever it detects that you are in a moving car. Callers get a message telling them that you are driving and will reply later.

If you’re a passenger, you can disable it, and parents can lock the feature so their teenage kids cannot switch it off. Distracted driving is the biggest cause of auto crashes, so this could be a literal life saver.

iPad Multitasking

iOS 11 on iPad
New features in iOS 11 make the iPad a multitasking beast.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Under iOS 11, the iPad becomes a serious work machine. No longer will you feel like your hands are tied when you’re using it. If you’re coming from a Mac, things like the new Files app — the iOS equivalent of the Finder — will make you feel right at home. You can also drag-and-drop files, text, URLS, images, and pretty much anything else, between apps, just like on the Mac. The iPad gets a new Dock, too, which can be used inside apps, and not just on the home screen.

You can read all about the new iPad features in my upcoming iOS 11 review, or in my early look at the iOS 11 beta, but the main story is that the iPad is transformed. The changes really are nothing short of revolutionary.

Notes app

The Notes app is now super-powered. You can easily ditch Evernote and rely on the stock Notes app. On the iPad, you can draw and write anywhere on a note with the Apple Pencil, and anything you write is recognized as text, and searchable in Spotlight. If you tap the Pencil on the lock screen, it opens up a note, ready for you to doodle or scrawl. You can now also use the camera to scan documents right into the Notes app.

Everything Else

There’s a ton more in the new iOS 11, from the improved, customizable Control Center, to the ability to follow friends on Apple Music, to the indoor maps for malls and airports, to the Auto Setup, which copies all your settings, passwords, and preferences from your old iPhone to your new one, just by putting them side-by-side.

I’ve been using the betas since the beginning of the testing period and I still keep finding new stuff. So, even if you’re not interested in the new iPhones launched today, there’re plenty of great new features to play with in iOS 11. For free.