iOS 11: The new features coming to your iPhone later this year

06 June 2017

iOS 11

As part of its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple announced iOS 11 - the next version of its iPhone and iPad operating system.

While core components like iMessage, Siri, the App Store, and the Control Centre are all getting updates, major new features will make it easier for developers to build augmented reality apps, let you send money to friends using Apple Pay, and make your phone less distracting when driving.

iOS 11 will be available in spring this year. Precedent suggests a September launch is on the cards, coinciding with Apple's announcement of the next-generation iPhone.

Augmented Reality

One of Apple's biggest announcements for iOS 11 was ARKit: a tool that will make it easier for iPhone and iPad developers to make augmented reality (AR) apps such as Pokémon Go.

The kit will let developers use the iPhone's camera, GPU, CPU, and motion sensors to help create more realistic AR experiences. For example, Pokémon will actually sit on the ground in Pokémon Go, and Poké Balls will bounce off the environment in a more realistic manner.

Apple says ARKit is set to make the iPhone the largest augmented reality platform in the world.

Apple has yet to announce AR functionality for any of its own apps, but this looks like it could very well be the shape of things to come. Next-generation iPhone rumours have been suggesting AR ready camera configurations for quite some time now.

Do not disturb while driving

Using your phone when you're driving is pretty dumb, and Apple's going to try and save you from yourself in iOS 11. Relying on either Bluetooth or the Wi-Fi Doppler effect, iOS 11 will put your iPhone into "do not disturb while driving" mode when it knows you're on the move.

This will prevent your phone from displaying notifications when driving, and will automatically respond to people trying to get in touch with a message to let them know you're behind the wheel. If they really need to contact you, they'll be able to shoot through a message that says "urgent" to get through. At which case you'll obviously pull over first.

Apple Pay

iOS 11 will give you the ability to send money direct to friends using Apple Pay and iMessage. Transactions will be authenticated using Touch ID, and whoever you're sending money to will be given a virtual Apple Pay cash card that can then be used to pay for purchases, transferred to their bank account, or passed onto someone else.

Notably, if you're a bugging a friend for money they owe you, Apple Pay will come up as an option for them in autosuggest (and vice versa).


On an iMessage related note, iOS 11 will keep your conversation history in iCloud, meaning your texts will be automatically synchronised between your devices. Thankfully, deleting a message on one device means it gets deleted everywhere, and the move won't change iMessage's end-to-end encryption

The iMessage app is also getting a bit of touch up, making it easier to access stickers.

Control Centre and App Store Redesign

The Control Centre and App Store will both get a redesign with iOS 11.

The Control Centre will display as a single pane with a mixture of simple switches for on/off settings like the torch, and sliders for settings like volume and brightness. 3D touching a group of settings will open up other options, such as a more granular controls for music playback.

The App Store will get its first major redesign in nine years, and take on a distinctly Apple Music inspired aesthetic. Opening the store will fire up a "Today" tab to highlight featured content, and applications will then be broken down in "games" and "apps". Notably, in-app purchases will now be displayed as part of the App Store, and will be purchasable without the need to launch the app in question.


Siri will get a couple of new skills in iOS 11, with the biggest being translation. At iOS 11's launch, Siri will be able to translate English to Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

Other new functionality will include deeper integration with other apps (meaning third party developers will be able to hook Siri into their applications), better contextual awareness, and cloud synchronisation - so that Siri's learnings about you are shared across all of your devices.


iOS 11 is set to make your iPhone and iPad cameras more efficient. Both will benefit from better compression, meaning that photos and videos will take up half as much space as they currently do without compromising on quality, at least when they're on your iDevice.

The camera app will also be able to create long exposure shots from Live Photos, and the Photos app will be able to better identify memories to create smart galleries around pets, activities, and anniversaries.

On the iPad

iOS 11 will give the iPad a whole suite of exclusive features, further helping to bridge the divide between tablet and PC. iPads will get a larger app dock - much like Macs - that can be accessed from anywhere without having to return to your home screen. In addition to letting you swap apps, the dock will also let you start multitasking faster.

Mac comparisons don't end with the dock, with Apple giving iPad users an improved app switcher that remembers your split-screen app pairings, support for dragging and dropping images, texts and URLs between apps, and a Finder-like Files app that not only shows you the documents you have on your iPad, but also on your connected cloud storage services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.

iOS 11 will also improve Apple Pencil support, and even let you search for text you've entered in handwritten notes. Well, provided that your handwriting isn't too terrible.

Will my iPhone get upgraded to iOS 11?

The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, and iPhone 5s will all get upgraded to iOS 11 when it becomes available. 

All iPad Pro and iPad Air models will get the upgrade when it comes to Apple's tablets. The newly released iPad will get it too, as will the iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 4. 

In terms of iPods, only the 6th generation iPod Touch will get iOS 11. 

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