Apple is throwing some oomph into iOS 11, with new upgrades that will bring augmented reality to your iPhone and iPad, make Siri more useful, and provide new protections against distracted driving.
Unveiled at Apple’s WWDC event on Monday, iOS 11 will be the driving force behind Apple’s forthcoming 10th anniversary iPhone. That means the features unleashed are a preview into one of the most highly-anticipated devices on the market.
One of the more revealing upgrades is Apple’s introduction of a new platform – dubbed ARKit – to help developers bring AR experiences to the iPhone and iPad. The platform utilizes the devices’ cameras, processors, and motion sensors to help project virtual content on top of real-life scenes. Apple said the platform will be perfect for interactive gaming and shopping experiences, as well as applications like industrial design.
The debut of ARKit comes as competition in the augmented and virtual reality space heats up. Huawei in January announced it was bringing AR and VR capabilities to its Mate 9 smartphone via capability with Google Daydream. Facebook also recently announced its own platform – AR Studio – meant to help developers bring AR experiences into the mainstream. These big tech players will have legislative support thanks to the recently formed Congressional Caucus on Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Technologies. More on that here.
Siri’s brain gets a boost
Apple’s iOS 11 upgrades to Siri are also meant to fend off competitors like Google, Samsung, and HTC by making the assistant more intelligent, but also more relevant in users lives.
Siri will get more natural speech as well as the ability to translate English words and phrases into five different languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Thanks to some advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, Siri will also be able to offer more personalized recommendations and experiences based on user habits in the Safari, News, Mail, and Messages apps. For example, Apple said Siri will be able to learn and remember topics a user is interested in when they’re surfing in Safari and suggest related words or phrases in Messages. Siri might also make calendar suggestions based on your browsing interests.
Apple said this feature will be kept private on users’ devices only.
Ditching distracted driving
The latest iteration of iOS will also help users curb their distracted driving habits courtesy of a new feature that detects when users may be in the car and automatically silences their notifications. The extension of Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature will also keep the screen dark so users don’t look down when message notifications pop up.
Apple said users will have the option of sending an auto reply to their favorite contacts while the setting is activated. Selected contacts will be able to reply “urgent” when they need to break through the DND blockade to reach a user for something that can’t wait.
Users who are just passengers in the car will have the option to tap out of Do Not Disturb mode for the duration of the trip.
IOS 11 will include a ton of other features, but here are some highlights:
- You’ll be able to store more photos on your device thanks to the introduction of Apple’s new High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) that reduces the file size of every photo taken with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
- Apple Maps will support indoor navigation for major airports and shopping centers around the world, as well as lane guidance so you don’t miss another turn or exit.
- The App Store is getting a full on makeover to make it easier to find apps and games. There will also be an App Store for iMessage that provides an app drawer for users to access apps and stickers to decorate their messages.
- Home will support more accessories, including AirPlay 2 speakers, and more triggers for Home automation features.
- The new one-handed keyboard mode on iPhone will reportedly make it easier to type and a new QuickType keyboard on iPad will deliver quick access to numbers, symbols, and punctuation.
Apple said the developer preview of iOS 11 is available immediately, and a public beta will roll out to iOS users later this month. The final iOS 11 upgrade will be available in the fall as a free software update for the iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation, iPad mini 2 and later, and iPod touch 6th generation. Person-to-person payments and Apple Pay Cash will be available stateside on iPhone SE, iPhone 6 and later, iPad Pro, iPad 5th generation, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, and Apple Watch also this fall.