The 60 Coolest New iOS 11 Features You Didn't Know About
Apple showed off a lot of cool new features coming to iOS 11 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch at WWDC 2017, but they only just touched the surface of what iOS 11 has to offer. There are a lot of hidden gems to explore.
Aside from the big-ticket items like the improved Control Center, maps for malls and airports, and better compression for photos and videos, there are things hiding in iOS 11 such as a screen recorder, persistent notifications, and the list goes on. Some of the stuff we wanted actually showed up, and we'll attempt to find everything new that's cool about iOS 11 right here.
Before diving into the full list of features, if you want to get some hands-on experience with them, make sure to install the iOS 11 beta on your device.
Just like we hoped, Apple made the Control Center a single page again, instead of the clunky two-page version in iOS 10. Everything gets its own little section, and you can use 3D Touch to expand and interact with most of these options.
This was another big item from our wish list, and it's a good start to customizing the Control Center. In the settings, you can add, remove, and rearrange options in the pull-up menu, but you're limited to Apple apps and services, which means no third-party app integration. Hopefully, this will come in the future, but we're not betting on it.
Airplane Mode, Cellular Data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Personal Hotspot, Rotation Lock, Do Not Disturb, AirPlay, and the Music controls are all non-customizable, meaning they you can't remove any of them.
If you 3D Touch on the flashlight icon in the Control Center, you'll notice that instead of three intensity options (low, medium, high), there's a fourth one. The names have been removed, so you'll just have to guess at what the fourth one is called.
Hidden in the Control Center's customizable settings, there's a new Screen Recording option. That means you no longer need QuickTime on your computer or some shitty third-party app that doesn't work well (or at all).
Just add the option to your Control Center, then tap on the icon to start recording. If you 3D Touch on it, you can enable the microphone, too. You can turn it off the same way, or via the blue status bar indicator. Then all you have to do is tap on the notification that it was recorded and begin editing out the stuff you don't want.
Aside from the default iOS 10 options in the Control Center, there's also Cellular Data, Personal Hotspot, Screen Recording, Alarm, Do Not Disturb While Driving, Notes, Accessibility Shortcuts, Apple TV Remote, Guided Access, Low Power Mode, Magnifier, Stopwatch, Text Size, and Voice Memos. There's also the Wallet shortcut, which may or may not work better for you than the double-click option for passes.
If you have an iPhone that doesn't come with 3D Touch, you're not left out in the cold again when it comes to quick actions. You can now long press on almost any icon in the Control Center to bring up the same quick actions that 3D Touch users get. This means you can now adjust flashlight intensity, among other things. Unfortunately, this long-press feature for older iPhones is only available in this menu, not on the home screen or elsewhere.
Realizing that many iPhone users (like myself) have flocked over to third-party keyboards, Apple finally added a significant improvement to bring everyone back — a one-handed typing mode. This simply squishes the stock keyboard over the left or right side so you can type without stretching your thumb out too far. Now they just need to add swipe typing.
No more do you have to try and type out long, complicated passwords on your iPhone. Now you can just ask someone already connected to the network to share their password with you over the air — no typing involved. As long as both devices are running iOS 11, it'll work (and macOS High Sierra is even supported).
While this doesn't seem to be implemented just yet, and possibly won't be until iOS 11 is at least available in a public beta, there's a new feature called Apple Pay Cash that lets you easily send money via your debit or credit card to friends and family via the Messages app. When they receive it, they can make Apply Pay purchases or transfer to their bank. People can also send you money so you can do the same, and you can even request them to send you money in Messages.
While we're in the Messages app, let's talk about the App Store for iMessage. It looks way cleaner, slimmed down to a tiny row at the bottom which is expandable when you need it.
If you love Balloons and Confetti in your iMessages, you're going to love the new Echo and Spotlight screen effects that the Messages app has in iOS 11. Not much more to say here. Just seem them in action below.
Yep, this means that all of your messages on your iPhone can finally really be synced with your messages on your Mac. Previously, it was a big mess, and messages you deleted on your iPhone would not delete on your Mac as well. This is a huge privacy concern, obviously, so this is a nice addition.
The iOS App Store is taking a queue from the Apple Music look with its new redesign. It's got a "Today" view jam-packed with information on new apps and in-app purchases, stories, and even how-tos. Apps and games also get their own tabs, and ratings and reviews gained new precedence. Developers can even respond to reviews now, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it. You can see all of the new iOS App Store features in the link below.
While Apple was already readying this new ratings and review system back in iOS 10.3, the system-wide toggle to disable feedback requests inside apps only appears in a few betas here and there. Now, it's back in iOS 11 (hopefully for good).
Touted as an iPad feature during WWDC, Files, Apple's new file manager app, is also on the iPhone. If you can't find your iCloud Drive app, it's because it's now a part of Files. Eventually, you'll be able to add other cloud storage accounts to this app, like Google Drive and Dropbox, but right now it's only iCloud Drive and stuff on your iPhone. However, we're not sure what files will show up in "On My iPhone," so only time will tell. Ours is empty right now.
Say goodbye to all of your QR code apps, because you don't need them anymore. Apple built a QR code scanner right into the Camera app, so all you have to do is point your camera at a QR code and it will prompt you with what to do next, whether it's opening up a link in Safari, adding a number to your contacts, or joining a Wi-Fi network.
For some reason, Apple omitted these options with Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, but iOS 11 adds support for them. Optical image stabilization is always on now, and you can use either the high dynamic range option or flash when taking "Depth Effect" portraits.
Previously, the Camera app would shoot pictures in JPEG and videos in H.264. Well, in iOS 11, Apple has bumped that up to compression formats that can save you twice as much space (up to two times better compression). The new HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) will take the place of the old JPEG files, while videos will be using the H.265 video coding format. Of course, you can disable this in the Camera settings if you want.
Previously, the only way to select the still image you wanted to use for Live Photos was to use a third-party app like Google's Motion Stills app. It was a big deal, since sending a Live Photo to a friend on Android wouldn't show what you actually wanted to show. Now, Apple has fixed this. Just tap on the Edit icon at the bottom, then drag the cover photo frame on the slider to wherever you want. Tap on "Make Key Photo" to set it, then "Done" to finalize.
From the same edit menu just mentioned above, you can also trim Live Photos. Just press and hold on one of the ends of the slider, trim to your liking, and hit "Done" to finalize. You can always revert the changes later by entering the edit menu again.
If the previous two Live Photos features weren't enough, Apple also added a couple cool motion effects for Live Photos — Loop and Bounce. The former loops it like a normal GIF would, and the latter just bounces the video back and forth endlessly.
Okay, so it's not a long exposure feature in the Camera app, but it's still cool. Just set up the scene you'd like to take a long exposure for, snap the pic with Live Photo enabled, then edit it just like you would for the Loop and Bounce effects, only this time select the Long Exposure option. Pretty sweet, right?
While sending a regular Live Photo from an iPhone via MMS will still result in a still image for Android users, the Live Photos with Loop or Bounce effects will be sent as MP4 files. Right now, this is pretty buggy, and we had a small success rate, but it's the start of something good.
Just like the above tip, if you send a Live Photo with a Loop or Bounce effect via the Mail app, it will automatically be converted to a GIF file that any recipient can see. Now we'd just love the ability to turn regular Live Photos as GIFs, since Live Photos sent via Mail will still only be a still JPEG image.
Just like you can take pictures while shooting video in the Camera app, you can snap screenshots of video calls in the FaceTime app. Not only that, they aren't normal screenshots — they're Live Photos. Both users on the FaceTime video call need to be running iOS 11 for this to work.
Apple assumes most people who take screenshots will want to edit them right away, so they added a quick markup feature for screenshots. Just take a screenshot, then tap on the thumbnail in the bottom left, which brings up the edit page where you can draw using any number of tools. The thumbnail is invisible in other screenshots, so you can still rapid fire screenshot like you normally would. (You can swipe the thumbnail to the left to get rid of it faster if it annoys you.)
You could previously save webpages, notes, photos, and other files as PDF files and mark them up afterward, but it was kind of a pain in the ass — especially for adding markup. iOS 11 has simplified this with a "Markup as PDF" button in the share sheet, which is much faster all around.
While it's not the Dark Mode we wanted it to be, it's the next best thing. Just head to your Display Accommodations and turn on Smart Invert. More info on this trick is available at the following link.
While I'm not sure who exactly would want to enable this feature, I'm sure there are a few good use-cases for needing to have those banner notifications you get stay there until you dismiss them. If that sounds like something you want, it's pretty easy to set up in your Notification settings for apps that support banners.
Okay, this may sound like a negative thing to you, but to me, it gives me a reason to finally get rid of all the apps that are no longer working anyway. Most of the apps that haven't been updated to 64-bit apps just don't function like they used to, and I never use them anyway.
If you've ever had a hard time finding a public restroom in a shopping mall or airport, you'll appreciate this. Apple Maps now has indoor maps for the floor plans of malls and airports — they even work on different levels. We haven't seen any locations around us supported yet, but hopefully soon!
Apple wants to make sure you don't miss your exit next time, or get pulled over for a speeding ticket when you missed that tricky speed limit sign way back there. Speed limit indicators are only available for certain roads, but it's a decent start.
Perhaps the biggest Maps addition in iOS 11 is the "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode. It will automatically kick in when it senses that you're driving or when you're connected to your car's Bluetooth. You can even toggle it on or off via the new Control Center icon. Anyone in your favorites list will get a message that lets them know you're driving, and they can break through that barrier by following up with "urgent" as a text.
Zooming in was always pretty easy to do with one thumb only since you can just double-tap on the Maps screen to do so. But zooming out was the tricky part. There was no way to do this using only one finger, but iOS 11 has fixed that. Just double-tap and hold, then move your finger up on the screen to zoom in and down to zoom out.
If you've ever found Maps almost nagging navigational directions annoying, you can now slim up those baby steps and "tap for light guidance," which gives you an overview of your drive instead of the step-by-step view. You could always zoom out before, but when a new turn came up, you'd get kicked back into step-by-step mode. This new one keeps you zoomed out no matter what.
While the Apple Watch got some Emergency SOS love already, as well as some iOS 10 betas, the iPhone feature has only been live in India so far. Now, it looks like iOS 11 is making it available to everyone in the US. This feature lets you click the sleep/wake (aka power) button 5 times fast to start a call to 911, and you have the option to set up emergency contacts that will get constant text updates as to your location.
Not a huge change, but the passcode screen on the lock screen looks a little different with buttons that stand out a little more than before.
Another minor visual change, but the Calculator got a new home screen icon and the app itself is now based on circular buttons rather than squares. The colors are still the same, only black covers more of the background.
It's now easier than ever to organize your home screen. When you go into edit mode on the home screen, you can hold one app or folder, then tap others to join it in a group move. Then you just move the group to a folder, the dock, or another home screen page and let go. Pretty awesome. If you have an iPad Pro with the new drag and drop feature, you can select multiple things to drag and drop at the same time, just like with home screen icons.
Some of the best "glitches" in older iOS versions were the ones that let you remove app and folder labels on the home screen. If the icon itself cannot visually explain what the app is, then the developer should get a better designer. That's how I always thought of it. Even with folders, you can tell what folders there are by the apps in them. It's just a much cleaner look overall.
So, while iOS 11 hasn't enabled this as an actual option yet, Apple has started the process by removing the text for apps and folders in the Dock.
Why did we ever need a page for the home screen in the App Switcher anyway? Thankfully, iOS 11 removed it, so to get back to your home screen, just press the home button or tap on the background in the App Switcher.
I guess this is up for debate, but the battery icon in the status bar looks a tad bit better.
While you could restart and even power down your iPhone with AssistiveTouch previously, it's not that great of an option if you don't have another use for the Accessibility setting. Now, iOS 11 has fixed that issue, giving us a third way to power down when we need it, and it's right in the Settings menu.
The next time you're cooking food and have dirty hands, you won't need to quickly rinse them off to accept a new phone call — your iPhone can automatically answer it for you and put it on speakerphone. There are just a few Accessibility settings to tweak to get this up and running.
We're not sure why this feature wasn't built in sooner, but after changing one simple Accessibility setting, you can turn the home screen shortcut for Siri from talking to typing only. If you still want to talk to Siri, you can just use the "Hey, Siri" command, so you've got the best of both worlds.
Siri can now translate English to Chinese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish, so if you ever need to ask someone something while you're traveling abroad, you can just have Siri ask them. You can't have another language translated into English just yet, but hopefully that's coming.
Siri can offer up personalized recommendations to you in Safari, Maps, Messages, and News, based off your usage in other apps. If someone asks you how far away you are in Messages, Siri might suggest the exact answer in miles or minutes based on your current location. To read more about how this works, check out our Siri roundup:
It doesn't sound like much, but if you've ever used Siri before, you'll know just how much better she (or he) sounds now in iOS 11. Siri's new male and female voices are more natural and expressive, adjusting intonation, pitch, emphasis, and tempo as they speak.
We haven't seen this one in the works just yet, but Siri will be able to help you out in apps such as OmniFocus 2, Evernote, Citi Mobile, Things 3, and WeChat. More apps will surely be added to this list in the coming months.
In the updated storage management system, Apple now gives you recommendations on ways to free up space on your iPhone, like auto-deleting old conversations in Messages, emptying your "Recently Deleted" album in Photos, or storing your messages in iCloud.
One of the recommendations above, as you could probably tell, is to "Offload Unused Apps." This setting lets you delete apps that you're not using off your iPhone while retaining the documents and data for them so you can download the apps again later when you need them — without having to start from scratch. Then, when you start running out of space, your iPhone will ditch unused apps to free up space. You can also set this for apps individually if you want.
Also in the new storage management system is the ability to review and delete all of the attachments in your Messages app. You can sort by photos, videos, GIFs and stickers, and everything remaining. Then just delete away as necessary.
That might sound like a bad thing, but it's actually for the best. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo no longer get special treatment in the Settings app. After all, how many of you actually found this useful? Instead of the deafult login options for these four apps, they will now work just like any other third-party app in iOS — by utilizing the share sheet menu.
If you need to keep track of a friend or family member's flight, you can do so now right from Safari without a ton of work. Just type in the airline and flight number and Safari will give you some details about it right away. Tap on the details card to see more info about the flight, like its current route.
Some web searches in Safari will bring up Wikipedia cards or suggest websites with need-to-know info displayed right away — before you even hit the "Go" button. But if it's just a definition you're looking for, iOS 11's Safari added a dictionary card if you add the word "define" to your search. It uses the New Oxford American Dictionary, so words like zyzzyva won't show up, but the suggested website given can usually fill in those gaps. Plus, it does a decent job at predicting what you want!
While the video controls in iOS 10's Safari weren't horrible, they look much better now, taking up less space over the video. The new volume slider for full-screen videos is a big plus, which shows only as a speaker icon until you use the hardware volume buttons or long-press on the icon, which brings up the slider.
If you're worried about advertisers tracking you in Safari, iOS 11 has you covered. With Apple's machine learning, Safari can intelligently prevent websites from tracking you using data gathered from other sites. This feature is enabled by default in Safari's settings.
As you can also see in the screenshot above, there's a new option for "Block New Cookies and Data" in Safari. In previous iOS versions, it was labeled as a menu for "Block Cookies" which included options like Always Block, Allow from Current Websites Only,Allow from Websites I Visit, and Always Allow. If you never knew which option to choose, well, now you only have one.
For some reason, unlike in other stock apps, when you swiped to scroll on a webpage in previous versions of Safari, one swipe or flick wouldn't get you very far. Now, in iOS 11, that swipe or flick has actual inertia, so you can control how fast or slow you scroll on a page.
While we're hoping for more than just one, this one should tide you over for now. Head to the following link to see different ratios for different devices.
Miss anything big? Let us know in the comments below. We'll continue updating this post until we've found all of the great iOS 11 goodies for you to play around with on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.