Mobility

Apple iOS 11: Cheat sheet

iOS 11 brought a lot of changes to the iPhone and iPad, but was it enough for Apple to maintain its position as an innovation leader? Here's what you need to know about Apple's latest mobile OS.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is always accompanied by a long list of updates and previews, and 2017 was no different. Along with new iPad Pros, a new iMac Pro, and the HomePod smart speaker Apple also announced iOS 11, which brought a lot of new features to iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Apple has been under the gun to make more massive leaps like it did with the older iPhone and iOS versions, but opinions on whether it did so with iOS 11 have varied. Many fans are getting restless, and the Google side of the fence keeps looking fresher and more exciting. Is iOS 11 enough to keep Apple fans feeling comfortable with their mobile OS of choice?

TechRepublic's cheat sheet 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: Hiring kit: iOS developer (Tech Pro Research)

Executive summary

  • What is Apple iOS 11? iOS 11 is the newest iteration of Apple's mobile operating system; it powers iPhones and iPads, and iPods. iOS 11 brings 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 Apple iOS 11 matter? Apple has been criticized 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 Apple 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phased out with the release of iOS 11, and that will affect owners of those devices as well: They'll soon be on an outdated OS that won't be likely to get anything aside from essential security updates.
  • How will iOS 11 affect developers? APIs are the name of the game in iOS 11, and the new 11.3 update has added even more in the way of connectivity. Electronic health records, improved augmented reality, and business iMessage connectivity all mean developers should learn to love interfacing with Apple APIs.
  • What's new in iOS 11.3? Along with the features that will affect developers, Apple has added new privacy notifications that will inform users when their data is being shared and new battery health statistics.
  • When is Apple iOS 11 available? iOS 11.3 is currently available for over-the-air download.

SEE: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

What is Apple iOS 11, and what are the key features in iOS 11?

iOS 11 is the current version of Apple's mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. It has brought a lot of changes to iOS that are sure to excite users and developers alike.

Users will notice new voices for Siri, content recommendations based on search history, peer-to-peer payments via Apple Pay in iMessage, a revamped Control Center, 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 good rundown the new features in iOS 11.

Additional resources

Why does Apple 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 iPhone 8 and iPhone X that accompanied its launch, weren't the huge hits that Apple needed to improve its image in the post-Jobs era. Instead the revelations about battery throttling, disappointing sales, wireless charging issues, and repeat discoveries of iOS bugs have dragged the company down.

iOS 11's preview promised a lot of features, and while it pushed Apple in the right direction with new augmented reality features, navigation improvements, a more human voice for Siri, and the like, it still felt rushed to market based on the number of bugs discovered.

Apple is relying on the iOS 11.3 update to fix some of the flaws iOS 11 came with. With the iOS update having just been released, it remains to be seen how the new version will be received.

Additional resources

Who does Apple 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.

If your device isn't listed above, I have some bad news: It's out of the update lifecycle. Those who don't own an iOS 11-eligible device 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 new bugs, backdoors, or zero days found in iOS 10.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

iOS 11 is also killing everything to do with 32 bit on both the hardware and the software side, which means 32-bit applications won't work in iOS 11. Say goodbye to your old 32-bit apps, or hope that their developers reemerge to make an update.

Additional resources

What's new in iOS 11.3?

The latest iOS update, 11.3, is out of beta testing and is now available to the general public. All iPhone and iPad users are advised to update to iOS 11.3 to gain access to new features and security updates.

SEE: iOS 11 tips and tricks for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Along with the inclusion of electronic health records, more augmented reality features, and business-to-consumer chat in iMessages, Apple has added several other features to improve on the shortcomings of iOS 11, two of which stand out as particularly important for iOS users.

  • Battery health statistics have been added to the Settings app. Users can see the condition of their iPhone and iPad battery, along with recommendations on when to replace it. Users can also enable or disable the battery-saving performance throttling that made headlines for iOS 11.
  • Data and privacy notifications let users know when an app is requesting their location, personal data, or other personally identifying information. Any app that requests such data will need to be approved by the user, and a small icon will appear at the top of the screen to let users know an app is requesting personal data.

For the complete list of new features in the iOS 11.3 update, check out Apple's release notes.

Additional resources

How will iOS 11.3 affect developers?

iOS developers should definitely look into how the new kits and APIs will change their approach to iOS coding. Augmented reality 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.

The 11.3 update to iOS adds more augmented reality features to expand what developers can do with the ARKit, which Apple claims makes iOS "the world's biggest augmented reality platform." Background improvements such as better environment mapping and 2D object recognition give developers much more to play with, which Apple hopes will make augmented reality more than just a novelty.

Developers who work in the healthcare industry can expect more iOS-related work as well: iOS 11.3 brings electronic health records to the iOS Health app. Quite a few hospital systems have already added support, and more are likely to begin focusing on inclusion, meaning more work for iOS devs.

Along with the inclusion of business connectivity in iMessage allowing iPhone users to chat directly with customer service professionals, API programming for iOS is the name of the game in 11.3. Get used to connecting apps to Apple's ecosystem.

Additional resources

How do I update to iOS 11?

iOS 11 is now available for download via the Settings app on all supported iOS devices. Users running iOS 11 on their iPhone or iPad can update to iOS 11.3 by opening the Settings app, going to the General tab, and tapping on Software Update.

Additional resources

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Image: TechRepublic/Brandon Vigliarolo

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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