It’s the gift to iPhone and iPad owners who don’t want to buy a new gadget.
Apple’s latest mobile operating system iOS 11 is now available as a free download. The redesigned software packs in big changes and minor tweaks, some you may never even see.
The update is available on smartphones as far back as the iPhone 5S. (For iPad compatibility, see here). Or you can wait and buy an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, which hits stores on Friday, or hold off for the iPhone X coming later this year.
Here are just 15 of the hidden, handy and most neat features in iOS 11:
1.) Improved control center: In its most recent incarnation, the control center was split into two windows: one for music and one for everything else. In iOS 11, it’s unified, simplified and fills the whole screen on an iPhone. You can even customize what settings appear.
2.) Redesigned volume slider: Apple has finally fixed the annoying giant volume slider that blocks videos. Now if you’re watching something and want to turn it up a notch, the volume appears in the corner.
3.) Augmented reality: Augmented reality apps use the iPhone and iPad’s cameras, gyroscopes and accelerometers to sense where you are in the world. They can quickly map out the surfaces in front of you, like a desk or floor, and accurately estimate the lighting. The apps then places 3D images on top of a live view from the camera. Shopping and gaming will be obvious early hits, but it will be exciting to see what unexpected uses developers come up with. Augmented reality apps will only be accessible on iPhone 6S or later devices.
4.) Redesigned App Store: Apple really thinks app developers are entertaining. The company has launched a TV show about the coders, and now it’s dedicating a tab in the redesigned App Store to original posts about apps and the people who make them. There are more than 2 million apps in the App Store. Finding the exact one you wants seems like a technical problem — the kind that could be solved by collecting data on your preferences. Instead, Apple has hired human editorial staffers to find the best apps to recommend. The Today tab features new articles and interviews every day.It’s also a nice way to avoid bad apps that have gamed their way to the top downloads lists.
5.) Siri sounds different: Siri’s voice has undergone a few changes to make it sound more conversational. It changes speed during a sentence, goes up at the end of a question, and even pauses to “take a breath.” It also has a few new tricks, but the best is instant translations. Try, “Siri, how do you say ‘How much is that jaunty cap’ in Chinese?” Apple is slowly opening up its voice assistant to third party developers, so you can make bill payments or use it for third-party notes and reminders. Apple is also feeding Siri more information about your habits to help it predict what you’ll want to do next. The smarts show up in other places where Siri doesn’t actually talk. For example, auto suggestions in Messages and search suggestions populate based on the last thing you were reading in Safari.
6.) iPad-only additions: iOS 11 has some clever additions just for the iPad. It’s borrowed the Dock from the Mac, so there’s always a row of app shortcuts on the bottom of the screen. The app switcher shows previews of the last thing you were doing in each app. Apple is finally bringing a file management system to the iPad — something that’s been long requested by anyone trying to do real work. There are a number of small changes that make multi-tasking easier, including the ability to drag and drop text, files and photos between apps.
7.) Accessibility Setting: Now lets you type questions to Siri.
8.) Updated Notes App: Does handwriting detection and scans documents.
9.) New special effects in Messages.
10.) Do Not Disturb feature: The iPhone can now sense when you might be driving and help keep you from being distracted by calls and other notifications. People trying to message you can automatically be notified that you’re driving.
11.) QuickType keyboard: Now, all you have to do is touch and hold the emoji and globe key, select one-handed typing, and the keys will instantly move closer to your thumb.
12.) Emergency mode: You can now tap the sleep/wake button five times to activate Emergency Mode. It disables touch ID and face ID so no one can force you to unlock your phone. There’s also access to medical info, and you can call 911 from the screen, according to TechCrunch.com.
13.) New password share feature: If another iOS user tries to join the same Wi-Fi network you’re using, iOS will show a pop-up that allows you to tap a button to share the Wi-Fi password, according to TechCrunch,com.
14.) Record Your Screen feature: You can add a shortcut to the Control Center, which allows you to record everything you do on your screen. Then, it saves the file in your photo library, according to TechCrunch.com.
15.) New screenshot features: When you take a screenshot with iOS 11, a thumbnail will pop up in the bottom left hand corner. If you tap on the thumbnail, it will open it up as a photo you can crop, modify and even write text on.
For more on the iOS 11 update from Apple, click here.