Apple iOS 11: The smart person's guide

iOS 11 includes a lot of new features that are sure to delight business users and developers. Here's what you need to know about Apple's latest mobile operating system.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is always accompanied by a long list of updates and previews, and this year is no different. Along with new iPad Pros, a new iMac Pro, and the HomePod smart speaker Apple also announced iOS 11, which promises to bring a lot of new features to iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

And it needs to—Apple has been under the gun to make more massive leaps like it did with the older iPhone and iOS versions. Many fans are getting restless, and the Google side of the fence keeps looking fresher and more exciting.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide about iOS 11 is a quick introduction to the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, as well as a "living" resource that will be updated periodically as it evolves.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What is iOS 11? iOS 11 is the newest iteration of Apple's mobile operating system; it powers iPhones and iPads, and iPods. iOS 11 is bringing a host of changes to those devices on the front end and back end. Apple consumers and developers will notice big differences from previous versions of iOS.
  • Why does iOS 11 matter? Apple has been criticised for lagging behind Google in the past few years. While iOS 11 doesn't necessarily bring Apple back on track to be the innovation leader the company once was it does correct many shortcomings of iOS 10 and create new space for innovation that could catapult Apple forward in its battle with Google.
  • Who does iOS 11 affect? iOS affects anyone who owns a supported iOS device or develops for iOS. Several models are being phased out with the release of iOS 11, and that will affect owners of those devices as well: They'll soon be on an outdated OS that won't be likely to get anything aside from essential security updates.
  • When is iOS 11 available? iOS 11.1 is currently available for over-the-air download. It comes standard on the iPhone 8 series and the iPhone X.

SEE: Special report: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo

What is iOS 11?

iOS 11, just announced at WWDC 2017, is the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system. There are a lot of changes coming in this version of iOS that are sure to excite users and developers alike.

Users will notice new voices for Siri, content recommendations based on your search history, person-to-person Apple Pay in iMessage, a revamped Control Panel, editable live photos, a redesigned App Store, and lots more.

Developers will be able to use new APIs and kits to develop augmented reality apps, add natural language learning functions (Natural Language API), perform advanced image recognition tasks (Vision API), build third-party apps that interface with Apple Music (MusicKit), and give Siri support to third-party apps (SiriKit).

There are simply too many features to thoroughly cover here—check out CNET's iOS 11 preview for a good rundown of all the new features.

Additional resources

Why does iOS 11 matter?

Apple has built itself a reputation for innovation and creating solid products, but let's be honest: To say it's the innovation leader it once was would be an outright lie. The past few years have belonged solidly to Google, and Apple has been stuck playing catch up—and it hasn't been great for the Cupertino firm.

iOS 11, and the presumed iPhone 8 that will accompany its launch, needs to be a hit for Apple, lest they continue to be accused of having lost the edge of the Steve Jobs era.

iOS 11's preview promised a lot of features, and while it's not a groundbreaking transformation it's still pushing Apple in the right direction with new AR features, navigation improvements, and the like—I just can't shake the feeling that it's all been done by Android.

Additional resources

Who does iOS 11 affect?

If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod you're affected by iOS 11. Apple doesn't like to fragment its ecosystem, as evidenced by its pride in the 86% adoption rate of iOS 10, so supported devices will be pushed toward the new platform.

Image: Apple

If your device isn't listed above I have some bad news: It's now out of the update lifecycle. Those who don't own one of them are going to have to get new devices if they want to keep getting updates—and that includes security patches, which means you'll be vulnerable to any new bugs, backdoors, or zero days found in iOS 10 come fall.

iOS 11 is killing everything to do with 32 bit on both the hardware and software side, which means 32-bit applications will cease to work once iOS 11 launches. Say goodbye to your old 32-bit apps, or hope that their developers reemerge to make an update.

If you develop for iOS you should definitely look into how the new kits and APIs will change your approach to iOS coding. AR can be a boon for companies—IKEA already takes advantage of it—and it could be a great way to show off a physical product in customers' homes and offices.

Additional resources

When is iOS 11 available?

iOS 11 is now available for download via the Settings app on all supported iOS devices.

Additional resources

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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