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article imageiOS 11 unveiled: New features coming to the iPhone this fall

By James Walker     Jun 6, 2017 in Technology
Apple has unveiled iOS 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system to be released on the iPhone and iPad later in the year. It includes advanced new productivity features for the iPad and support for augmented reality, a major first for Apple.
iOS 11 was announced by Apple on stage during its WWDC developers conference keynote yesterday. Not one to regularly break from tradition, the latest iOS version was unveiled as if by clockwork. It comes almost exactly a year after iOS 10 was debuted, a release that featured a new streamlined interface and a more intelligent Siri.
iOS 11
iOS 11
Apple
This year, Apple has continued development in these areas but they're no longer centre-stage. Siri now supports on-device learning for "personal experiences" across a range of apps, such as the ability to suggest topics while browsing in Safari. There's also an expanded selection of features in Photos and the option to directly pay friends using Apple Pay. These all take a backseat role to Apple's headline announcement though, the launch of augmented reality on the iPhone and iPad.
Augmented reality
Long after its major competitors first began dabbling in AR, Apple has addressed the concerns of investors by announcing its own augmented reality platform. It will be available to developers from iOS 11 when the update delivers the required features to devices. The system will let you engage with full virtual reality experiences on your phone or tablet, overlaying apps on your walls and putting table-top games on your real table.
Predictably for Apple, the platform is called ARKit. It gives developers direct access to the graphics processors, motion sensors and cameras of iOS devices. The data from these inputs is combined with computer vision technologies to enable the creation of complete augmented reality scenes.
iOS 11
iOS 11
Apple
ARKit is a milestone announcement for Apple. Although it's coming relatively late to the game, the company's CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly emphasised his interest in augmented reality technology. In October, he said augmented reality "will happen in a big way" and will eventually become as ubiquitous as "three meals a day."
ARKit is the first step towards the future Apple envisions. By giving iPhone users access to AR, Apple hopes to lead the way in future development. Although the technology is available in the latest version of Google's Android, support amongst manufacturers is still very slim. Once again, the closed nature of Apple's ecosystem could see ARKit reach a significant audience far faster than Google Daydream.
iPad
Apple is also launching several major iPad features with iOS 11 that are designed to address criticisms of the iPad Pro. The company has made the platform more professional-friendly by enhancing its multitasking capabilities. There's a redesigned app switcher, improved Split View and Slide Over multi-window features and a customisable "Dock" panel that lets you pin frequently accessed documents and apps to your screen.
iOS 11
iOS 11
Apple
Apple has succumbed to years of customer feedback and developed a file management app for the iPad. The aptly-named Files app lets you view and organise files on your iPad and in your cloud storage accounts. It supports drag-and-drop, including into open apps, and connects with cloud providers including iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Box.
Driving Mode, App Store, keyboard and more
iOS 11 also comes with the usual selection of supporting features. There's a redesigned App Store that's now 64-bit only, an improved Control Center settings screen and a one-handed keyboard mode for use on the Plus-sized iPhone variants. Stock apps across the OS have been updated and refined, including indoor maps in Maps and curated news feeds in News.
Finally, Apple has responded to studies showing how notifications can cause risks when driving. iOS' new "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature lets you lockdown your phone when you're behind the wheel, muting every incoming alert so you stay focused on the road ahead. If you're prone to glancing at your phone while you're in the car, this mode is built for you.
Apple said iOS 11 is built to take the best advantage yet of its devices while offering consumers new computing experiences. The company described it as the biggest iPad update ever developed and the start of the biggest AR platform in the world.
iOS 11
iOS 11
Apple
"With iOS 11, we’re delivering the biggest AR platform in the world, and it’s available today for developers to begin building AR experiences using ARKit for hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users," said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. "iOS 11 gives iPad users the powerful app functionality they need to take advantage of everything iPad is capable of, and brings hundreds of new features and incredible updates to the iOS apps iPhone and iPad users enjoy every day."
iOS 11 is available in developer preview form today. A public beta will be launched later this month. The update will be released to all supported iOS devices later in the fall. Some features will be restricted to individual markets with peer-to-peer payments initially limited to U.S. customers.
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