If you've stuck with iOS through the years, you know that each new iteration brings a slew of incredible new features.
The new mobile OS works with iPhone 5s and higher, iPad mini 2 and up, and the 6th-gen iPod touch. The shift to 64-bit apps means the 2012 iPhone 5, the 4th-generation iPad, or the 2013 iPhone 5c have to remain on iOS 10.
You're not going to get any major speed out of those older models; Apple and its developers write code to suite newer devices with faster processors. But at least most iOS devices have this upgrade option; no Android-level fragmentation here.
What are you waiting for? Go to Settings > General > Software Update on your iDevice of choice right now. If the update is available to you, it'll show up there and you can get started with the download. It only took about 30 minutes, even on an old iPhone 6, so expect even better install time with newer iPhones. Once it's installed, check out the list below for the hidden features you will want to master.
1. Auto-Delete Apps You Don't Use
Your first stop after getting iOS 11 should be Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Offload Unused Apps, especially if space is at a premium. It will automatically delete any apps you don't use—but it won't kill the data associated with the apps, so you can always download it again later. However, once you enable it, you can't turn it off in this same location. Apple, in its infinite interface wisdom, appears to have put the disable option for this under Settings > iTunes & App Store—scroll down and you can see the toggle.
2. Dump 32-Bit Apps
Your next stop: Settings > General > About > Applications. Here you'll find a list of apps that are incompatible with iOS 11. Due to the formal shift to 64-bit apps in iOS 11, 32-bit apps are no longer supported. An estimated 180,000 apps, mostly games, won't be supported by Apple for long. Take your chances and keep the apps (launching them comes with a warning) but don't expect any help. Chances are if the developer hasn't updated it, it's out of date… or no longer has a developer. If you can't tap into the Applications setting, that means all your apps are compatible with iOS 11.
3. Mark Up Your Screenshots
Taking a screenshot has always been relatively easy in iOS, just hold the power button and Home button at the same time. (On iPhone X, you'll do it by holding the power button on the side and clicking Volume Up on the other side.) It used to just throw the screenshot into Photos, but now, it puts a thumbnail on the screen. Click the thumbnail and you're taken into the new editing screen, where you can crop, add arrows/lines/shapes, put in text, sign it, magnify a section, highlight, write on it, type on it (and change the font), select sections, undo/redo your actions, or use the lasso tool to grab your annotations and move them (even scribbles and highlights). When you click Done, save the screenshot to Photos, or just delete it, if it was for fun. (This is in addition to the tools you get in Photos for cropping, rotating, filtering, and adjusting color and contrast.)
4. Create PDFs from Webpages
If you see a page online you want to save or share and you'd rather not use something smart like Evernote or OneNote, make it into a PDF, which can be annotated. When you're on the page in Safari, click the share button (the box with the arrow sticking out the top). On the bottom row of icons that pops up, swipe left until you see Create PDF. (Click the More button to re-order the icons so Create PDF comes up first if you plan to use it regularly.)
Once rendered, you'll see a little marker icon at the top—tap it to access the annotation tools (the same as you find for annotating a screengrab, right down to the Signature option, which is very handy for PDFs). When you're done, click Save File To, and you'll get the option to save to locations in the new Files app, which access all your cloud storage services.
5. Stick Your Art Into Mail
In the iOS Mail app, insert your own drawings. Hold down your finger in a message until you get the usual pop-up menu for pasting content or inserting a photo/video/attachment. At the end of the list is Insert Drawing. The tools you get are the same as you get for annotating screenshots and PDFs—a marker, a highlighter, a pencil, eraser, a lasso for moving your annotations, and a color switcher (white, black, blue, green, yellow, or red). The + icon has some other options for inserting shapes and text in a drawing, even your signature.
6. Utilize New Photo Formats
Photos and videos take up a lot space. On iPhone 7 and up (any device with an A9 chip or better), iOS 11 comes with new formats called HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), which can compress media about twice as much and still be easily shareable with the outside world. Yes, that's a 50 percent space saver. To set up the new formats, go to Settings > Camera > Formats > High Efficiency. To stick with JPG file for images and H.264 for videos, tap Most Compatible.
7. Answer Calls Automatically
This one is for those who really like to talk on the phone, even to telemarketers. Go into Settings > General > Accessibility > Call Audio Routing > Auto-Answer Calls and actually tell your phone to answer every call received. Set the time in seconds before the phone answers.
8. Notifications Screen Is Now...Lock Screen?
This one is confusing and maybe you won't even notice it. So, you probably have Notifications that appear on your Lock screen. And if you were actively using your iPhone in the old days, you'd swipe down from the top to get to the Notifications screen. On iOS 11, if you swipe down from the top—you go to the Lock Screen…where the Notifications are. It's a little weird, but Apple essentially just merged the two screens. What that means is, you swipe down to see all Notifications you've not yet cleared when your phone is unlocked. When your phone is unlocked, swipe up from the middle of the screen to see those notifications.
9. Customize the Crap Out of Control Center
Swiping up from the bottom of the screen on an iPhone has always brought up Control Center, but in the past it was limited to just the controls Apple wanted to provide. While that's still true for many of the controls, like the network connections, audio playback, screen mirroring, brightness, and volume, to name a few, you can now customize all the rest. Never use the flashlight or calculators? Dump those buttons.
The customization is much more about the cool controls you can add when you go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, including: Low Power, Text Size, Wallet, Stop Watch, Voice Memos, Do Not Disturb While Driving, Notes, and many more. Your options may change depending on the type of iPhone you have, since some have other features.
Tap the green plus button to add something to Control Center; select the red minus button to delete. To organize the order of the buttons, drag them using the menu on the right.
In Control Center, use a long-press to access an adjuster that controls the intensity of screen brightness, volume, and flashlight.
10. Record Video of Your Screen
One of the best new features hidden in iOS is Screen Recording. You can only access it one way: by adding the button to the Control Center in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, if it's not already there.
Swipe up to get Control Center, hit the round button, and you get a 3-second countdown to the iPhone recording all the moves you make on screen—you'll be able to tell from the red banner at the top. It's a perfect way to show off errors you're experiencing, or to show someone how to do something. The video is stored in Photos and shareable.
Want audio with the recording? Use 3D Touch (or press it for a long time) and you'll get an extra option to turn Microphone Audio On—this lets you do a narration as you record.
Tap the red status bar to confirm it's time to stop—all of which is also recorded. Trim your videos using the built-in tools to cut the beginning and end off of whatever you record, just to make it go faster. You can't get rid of the red banner at the top, but some video-editing apps and programs can probably crop that out (along with your status bar at top).
11. Use Apple Pay for Private Payments (Eventually)
You will soon be able to send personal payments from iPhone to iPhone without ever leaving the Messages app. For it to work, you'll need Apple Pay activated in the Wallet app. When you open Messages, you'll see the "App Drawer" toolbar at the bottom before you touch the text box to start typing. Swipe left to get to the Apple Pay icon. Or just type about money in some denomination and you'll probably get a suggestion. This will work for sending and requesting money. Look for it in the coming months.
12. Hide the Messages App Drawer
Speaking of the App Drawer toolbar, you don't have to see that every time you open Messages. Just tap the App Store icon next to the text box (the stylized letter "A") and it'll be gone until you tap it again.
13. New Messages Special Effects
Apple iOS 10 debuted the ability to send iMessages to other iPhone users with special effects, and there are two new ones in iOS 11: Echo and Spotlight. To use them, type your message, hold down the send key (), and tap Screen up top. Echo, which shows multiple echoes of your message (very effective with emoji), will be the first option. Swipe left to see Spotlight, which puts a literal spotlight on your message. Continue swiping left for other options.
14. Take a Live Photo During FaceTime
This one requires both parties to be running iOS 11 and of course Live Photos has to be turned on. To capture a 3-second Live Photo during a FaceTime convo, click the white shutter button on the bottom (left if you're in portrait, right if you're in landscape). You can't do this stealthily—the person on the other end of the call will be notified when the Live Photo is snapped. If you want a much longer video, use Screen Recording, but you can't record audio with it on a FaceTime call. Either party can turn off the option in Settings > FaceTime > FaceTime Live Photos.
15. Effects for Live Photos
Live Photos get a few new tricks of its own: Long Exposure (for getting streaks of light or motion blur from something moving); Bounce (where the motion goes back and forth, back and forth, like Instagram's Boomerang); and Loop (a constant replay over and over, like Vine).
To add these effects, open a Live Photo in the Photos app and swipe up on the photo. There, you'll see the Effects menu, where you can pick Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure. Tap to add the effect.
If you send a Bounce or Loop via the Mail app, iOS converts it into an animated GIF for the recipient. (Why you can't just turn them into GIFs period is a secret held by Cupertino.)
You can also trim the ends on the video clip associated with each Live Photo. When you view one, click Edit and there's a scrubber at the bottom to take you back and forth in the video. Drag in from each side of the scrubber to set new start/stop points. Better yet, pick a new key frame with this tool, meaning that the photo at the "center" of the Live Photo no longer becomes the focus, which is handy if the best part of the Live Photo was milliseconds before or after you snapped the shutter.
16. Finally...The One Finger Keyboard
Apple finally built a one-finger (a thumb, really) keyboard option into the built-in QuickType keyboard. When you want to access it, hold down the emoji icon, which is typically used to switch between all the installed keyboards. You'll notice two little mini-keyboard icons on left or right—pick the one closest to your typin' thumb. If you want the one-thumb keyboard permanently, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > One Handed Keyboard and mark the one you want.
17. Flick the iPad for Numbers
See that new design above for the iPad's QuickType keyboard? There are gray symbols on all the keys above the letters. Rather than push the .?123 key, just flick downward on a key to type the symbol. A regular tap still gives you the primary letter. This only appears on standard size iPads—the bigger screen on the iPad Pro has a full number row already.
18. iPad Specials: Drag and Drop, The Dock
If you've got an iPad, iOS 11 adds some great interface changes, in particular to the Dock, the set of permanent icons on all home pages along the bottom. Keep adding more and more icons to the doc, a lot more than just the previous max of five. The icons shrink a little every time you add another.
Plus, the Dock now has a "most used" set of icons to the far right, for those apps you're using a lot, but didn't give a permanent Dock space. You can turn off the app suggestions in Settings > General > Multitasking & Dock > Show Suggested and Recent Apps.
When you're in an app, swipe up from the bottom a short distance to get the Dock (swipe all the way up to get Control Center). If you use a keyboard, hit Option + Command + D to get the Dock. Press and hold one of the icons on the Dock, then drag it up to the right, and you'll get a Slide Over Panel showing that now-multi-tasking app—perfect for the new drag-and-drop functions. Now we just have to wait for more apps to support drag and drop, which does work on iPhone for some apps like Files and for text.
19. Maps Adds One Finger Zoom, Lanes, Flyover
This won't be anything new to Google Maps users, but the built-in Maps app from Apple now supports lane directions, interior building directions in some cases (great for airports), and single-finger zoom.
Rather than just pinch with two fingers, you can double tap to zoom, or double tap but on the second one, hold your finger on the screen, then move it around to get the same effect you have with pinching.
Perhaps the nicest update to Maps is the improved 3D Flyover view for select locations. If you pick a destination and it says Flyover Tour, give it a whirl.
20. Move Multiple Icons for Reorganization
You may not know this, but the latest version of iTunes on the desktop will no longer help you organize or sync apps on your iPhone. That feature is just gone, baby, gone. If you used it, that might be a blow. If you didn't, well, this next tip is handy just the same.
When you put your Home screen in the edit mode (where all the icons wiggle and those you can delete get an X badge), you used to only be able to drag one app icon at a time. Now, there is the ability to drag multiple icons. It's tricky to master: start dragging a wiggly icon with one finger, then with a second finger tap (sometimes multiple times to get it to work) another icon, or more. They'll create a stack under the first icon, which you then drag to a new screen. It doesn't work for dragging folders, however.
22. Prep for Emergency SOS
Emergency SOS does two things: it'll initiate a call to 911 without you having to open the phone app to dial (you may need to specify your local emergency number). It'll also deactivate Touch ID (or, presumably, Face ID in the new iPhone X when it arrives).
For the latter, some call this the "cop button" since it's well known in US courts that law enforcement can make you use your thumbprint to unlock your phone, but can't make you use your passcode. (Things are different in other countries—the UK just found a traveler guilty of obstruction for not unlocking his phone with a passcode as ordered). Re-activate Touch ID when you next re-enter your iPhone via passcode.
How do you turn on Emergency SOS? Go to Settings > Emergency SOS. The actual activation is performed when you hit the power button on the side of the iPhone (not the Home button) five (5) times in a row. You have the option to have the phone play a countdown warning sound for when the call will go through, presumably to warn off those threatening you.
23. Refresh From Wi-Fi
Background app refresh is what keeps your apps up to date when you're not even looking at them. You now get the option of what connection your apps use to do that—so if you've got a metered cellular connection, set them to refresh with Wi-Fi only. Or turn it off altogether. Do so via Settings > General > Background App Refresh > Background App Refresh.
24. Scan QR Codes
In the It Took Years for THIS? Department… you can now scan QR codes by taking a picture of them in the camera app. Turn the ability off in Settings > Camera.
25. Smart Dark Mode
It's not really "Dark Mode." This is the new Smart Invert mode that's part of Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colors. iOS would always invert colors, but it makes pictures and other media look bad. This new Smart version will keep things dark, but not mess with images and video, not even wallpaper. Use Classic Invert if you like the messed up media.
(Note, you can't take a screen grab in Invert—the image will look normal once you return the screen back to normal, or send it to another display. So watch TheJailbreaker turn it on in the video above.)
26. Stop Talking to Siri, Just Type
Before iOS 11, the only way to communicate with Siri was using your voice. If you'd prefer some subtlety, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Siri > Type to Siri. Hold down the Home button as usual, but you get a type box rather than the audio-waveform at the bottom to indicate Siri is listening. You'll get the same audio and screen feedback as usual. This is also where one turns on "Control with Ring Switch," so Siri does not speak up if you have the phone ring switch set to mute, which is always a good idea. If you set up Type to Siri, then the only way to talk to the digital assistant is to say "Hey Siri," which you set up in Settings > Siri & Search.
27. Use DND While Driving
That Do Not Disturb While Driving option you can add to Control Center is automatic—it starts when your iPhone uses its powers to identify that you're in a moving vehicle (or only when it connects to car Bluetooth). Thankfully, if you're the passenger, you may tell it you're not driving. What it will do is prevent notifications, calls, and messages from coming through until you stop. To change the settings for how it turns on (Auto, Car Bluetooth connection, or manually) go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Activate, which is under a DND While Driving section.
Also under that header is the Auto-Reply To. Set the phone to auto-reply to everyone, your favorites, or just those you've talked to most recently whenever you're on the road. Customize your auto-reply or it'll say "I'm driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on. I'll see your message when I get where I'm going." I like to add "Probably" at the end.
28. Scan Docs Into Notes
Like many apps before it, the built-in Notes app now will do a focused "scan" when you take a picture of a document. Tap the + button within a Note, select Scan Documents, line up the doc in the view finder, and let it rip. The image is added to your Note.
While you're in the Notes app, pin your favorite note so it's always at the top, ready for access when you enter the app. Swipe right on the note name to see the pin icon. Also, since Notes now has a shortcut in the Control Center, access it from your iPhone Lock Screen (you'll still need to enter a passcode or use Touch ID/Face ID to get into it).
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