While the last major update to iOS redesigned and overhauled the iPhone experience, iOS 11 also packs in a lot of iPad-specific features that turn the tablet from an oversized phone to more of a laptop replacement. Alongside tweaks to many Apple Apps like Notes, Music and Camera, here are 10 changes you can expect to see after you’ve downloaded the update.
Here are ten iOS changes and improvements that make upgrading worthwhile.
#1 New Files app
Replacing the iCloud Drive app, Files looks an awful lot like Finder on MacOS, and it functions pretty similarly. All the files you have sitting in your iCloud or locally on your device are accessible here for you to browse through and organise in a very desktop-style format. You can also add your Google Drive or other cloud storage accounts, although they’re not as well integrated, merely opening up their respective app’s browsing window.
#2 No more Notification Centre
It’s a small change, but the Notification Centre and Lock Screen are now one and the same. When you swipe down from anywhere on your device you’ll now drag the Lock Screen down instead of a notifications pane. Since the Lock Screen also houses all your notifications, it makes sense to get rid of that superfluous part of the operating system.
#3 Redesigned Control Centre
Finally, the Control Centre is totally customisable. On iPhone, swiping up will bring up the new-look and full-screen panel of widgets, which can be configured in Settings to include everything from an Apple TV remote a low power mode toggle. Some widgets work as simple buttons while others are sliders or something a bit more interactive, and many offer extra functionality when deep pressed. Importantly there’s the option to add a ‘record screen’ button, so you no longer need to plug your device into a computer to make a video from your screen.
#4 A smarter Siri
Apple’s personal assistant has new voices in iOS 11, but there’s a lot more happening behind the scenes. Siri now uses on-device learning to gather information about you and offer better suggestions. This data is synced across your Siri-enabled devices, so insights from your iPhone, iPad and Mac can all come together to build your personal data profile. The result will be familiar to those used to using Google’s Assistant: Siri will be able to suggest news articles based on your browsing, offer estimated travel times to where it thinks you’re going, and more.
#5 New keyboards
On iPhone, the default keyboard now has a one-handed mode. Once selected all the keys will move to the left or right of the screen, so you can hit all of them with just a thumb. An even more useful keyboard function is included with iOS 11 for iPad. You can now swipe down on keys to access their second function. For example hit the W key for a ‘w’, or swipe down on it for a ‘2’. This removes the need to constantly hit the 123 button to bring up the second keyboard.
#6 App Store redesign
The App Store is now more curated and resembles a digital magazine. The Today tab you see when you first open the app features editorial content about apps, as well as a new highlighted app and game every day. If it’s been a while since you checked in, you can scroll down to see previous games and apps of the day. Meanwhile the Apps and Games tabs have a big focus on curated collections, with the familiar top charts found below.
#7 Easier cleanup
A redesigned storage setting makes it easy to see what apps are taking up how much space on your device, and recommendations help you tidy up when you need more room. There’s also an option called “offload unused apps”. When activated, this will automatically remove apps you don’t open often from your device when space is tight.
#8 iPad Dock expanded
In an important step toward making Apple’s tablet a desktop and laptop competitor, the Dock now looks and behaves a lot like the one found in MacOS. You can add any 13 apps you like to the bar — which also displays your three most recently used apps — and it can be brought up at any time by dragging up from the bottom of the screen. This means you no longer have to go home or to the app switcher to switch apps, you can just pick a different one from the Dock.
#9 iPad’s new App Switcher
Drag up again from the Dock (or go for the good old double Home tap) and you get a brand new App Switcher which once again looks straight out of MacOS. Open apps are arranged in tiles just like Mission Control, and the new Control Centre is found here as well. Combined with the Dock and Files app, this gives productivity on iPad a very desktop feel.
#10 Multitasking and drag and drop on iPad
Tying the new tablet features together are some new ways to get apps interacting with each other. When you have an app open you can now simply drag another app from your Dock to open it in a Slide Over window, and you can touch it again to toggle into full Split Screen mode. The App Switcher remembers your split screen setup, so you can head off to other apps and come back to your main work screen later. Finally, you can now drag any highlighted content — a link from the web, some text, a picture etc — and drop it into a different app (as long as it allows this). No more copy-pasting.