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How to get your iPhone and iPad ready for iOS 11

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iOS 11's one-handed keyboard
Get your iPhone or iPad ready for the new iOS 11 update.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iOS 11 is available on Tuesday September 19th, and if your device is compatible, you can go ahead and update, by just tapping the button in Settings>General>Software Update. If all goes well (and it should), then you will wait for a while as the update downloads and installs, then your iPhone or iPad will restart into the new version of iOS, with all the cool goodies it brings.

But things sometimes can go wrong, so it pays to take a few precautions. You might also like to take the opportunity to clean up your device a little. Here’s how to prepare your iDevice for iOS 11.

Everything you need to know about tagging files in iOS 11

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Tagging files in ios 11
Tagging files is a powerful and easy way to tidy up your files, but it’s currently limited to the new iOS 11 Files app.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

One of the most useful features in iOS 11’s Files app may turn out to ta tagging files. Tagging lets you gather pictures, folders, documents and any other files from all across your iPad and iCloud storage by giving them the same tag.

This means you can organize files without moving them — you could create a Vacation tag, for example, to collect maps, a PDF with your Airbnb info, your boarding passes, and even related emails. Then, when the vacation ends, you can delete the tag. The grouping disappears but the files never get moved.

Tags are also synced between the Mac and iOS, so your collections can group files from both platforms. You can also apply many tags to the same file, including it in as many “projects” or lists as you like. The tagging functionality is built into the Files app at a deep level, making it easy to use wherever you are. Here are all the ways you can use tags in iOS 11.

How to pin notes and use stationery in iOS 11 Notes app

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The iOS  Notes app is now even more powerful than the Mac version.
The iOS Notes app is now even more powerful than the Mac version.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

iOS 11’s Notes app is fantastic, and can probably replace apps like OneNote or Evernote for many people. In iOS 11, it mostly catches up with the Mac version — and adds a bunch more neat features only possible on the iPad, like sketching with the Apple Pencil.

Today, we’re going to see how to pin notes to the top of the list; how to swipe to delete, password-protect or move a note to a folder; and how to pick a stationery background for a new note.

How to use iOS 11’s new camera-leveling feature

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Level up
Level up: I used the iPad’s camera level to shoot this picture of the iPhone compass level, and it’s still not level.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you ever try to take a photo of something flat on the ground, and spend ages trying to line it up right so that it is square in the frame? No, well, humor me here, because Apple just granted everyone’s biggest iOS camera wish: The camera app now has a level that kicks in when you hold the iPhone horizontally, and which will tell you when you’re holding the iPhone, uh, level.

How to use the new keyboard shortcuts in iOS 11’s Files app

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Files app keyboard shortcuts
Files app keyboard shortcuts
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Files app is iOS 11’s Finder. You can use it to browse the files in your iCloud Drive, along with files and folders in your Dropbox, and inside other apps that open up their file systems to iOS. Apple has also added some keyboard shortcuts to the Files app. This lets you carry out many common tasks without touching the screen when you have a hardware keyboard attached.

Most of the new keyboard shortcuts are great, and show how serious Apple is about the new user-accessible iOS file system. But some serious limitations mean you’ll still need to reach up and tap the screen to do the most basic things.

How Apple made the Photos app even more private in iOS 11

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Private photos Linea
App’s like Linea don’t need to read your whole photo library just to save a sketch.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In iOS 11, developers have a new way to access your Photos library: write-only access. Instead of granting permission for an app to read and write to your Photos library, just so it can save the odd image, an app can now only be allowed to write — or save — images, without getting to poke around inside your library to see what else is there. It’s much more private,

How to share documents from the Files app in iOS 11

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Share documents
Files is awesome, but it could be better.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

We’ve been able to share and collaborate on iWork documents for a while, but in iOS 11 (and macOS High Sierra) you’ll be able to collaborate on any document, just by sharing it through iCloud Drive. To begin with, this will only work with Apple’s own apps, but third-party developers may add real-time collaboration features to their own apps. Here’s how to get started.

How to share your iCloud storage plan with family members

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iCloud storage family plans
Sharing a big storage plan can save money, and make things simpler.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In iOS 11, you can share your iCloud storage with family members. This is a big deal, thanks to the new supersize iCloud plans, which make it a lot cheaper to buy a single 2TB plan and share it among all your family members.

With all that storage available, you can keep a huge iCloud Photo Library, and take full advantage of the new Files app in iOS 11. Never again will you run out of storage on your iPhone, iPad or the MacBook you foolishly specced at just 128GB of storage space. Here’s how to share iCloud storage with your family members.

iOS 11 automatically ignores flaky Wi-Fi connections

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Flaky Wi-fi
You should already have this switched off.
Photo: Cult of Mac

With iOS 11, your iPhone gets smart enough to realize when a Wi-Fi connection is flaky, and gives up trying to join it. This might be most useful if you’re one of those people who keeps your Ask Join Networks setting activated, but it should help anyone who uses their iPhone in multiple places — i.e. everyone ever.

Quick tip: Using the awesome new iOS 11 Timer widget

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timer iOS 11
The old timer is lame compared to the new one in iOS 11.
Photo: Cult of Mac

betaIf you’re using iOS 10 in an iPhone with 3D Touch, you can press on the timer widget in Control Center and pick from one of the preset timer shortcuts. In iOS 11, on the other hand, you get a full-featured, interactive timer widget that you can adjust, pause, and resume, all without ever launching the actual clock app. Let’s see it in action.