Just as expected, Apple has announced iOS 11 at WWDC, and it’s bringing some major changes.

Apple Pay takes on Venmo and Facebook

Apple Pay now allows you to make person-to-person payments, for one. It’s integrated directly into iMessage, which should make it seamless to send money to your iPhone-toting friends.

Though Venmo is likely the most popular money-transfer service in the US, Apple Pay’s new feature akin to Facebook Messenger, which lets you send money right within a chat. Unlike Facebook, however, transferred money is stored in a new Apple Pay Cash account by default. You can then use those funds to make purchases on the Web or using your Apple devices, or just transfer it to your bank.

Siri becomes more human (and more useful)

Meanwhile, Siri is getting a few updates. For one, the voice has improved using machine learning to sound a bit more human (we recognize the irony of that sentence). It can also now translate phrases into different languages, though that feature is still in beta.

One other tweak is that Siri will now learn from your usage patterns in apps like Safari, News, Mail, Messages and others to deliver more personalized search results. According to Apple:

…as Siri learns topics or places a user is interested in while browsing Safari, they will be suggested when typing in Mail, Messages and other apps.

New Lockscreen, Notification Center, and Control center

One big visual change is that Apple is now unifying the lock screen and notification center. Scrolling down from the top of the screen will bring up your lock screen, but you can then swipe up to access your full list of notifications. That seems like an unnecessary extra step, but I suppose it’s a little cleaner.

Then there’s the new Control Center, AKA the quick settings panel when you swipe up from the bottom of your screen. All your settings now live in a single pane.

Photos and Videos

Photos and videos are receiving a variety of updates. I’ll bullet them for the sake of efficiency:

  • Live photos now allow you to choose the best frame to use as the featured still.
  • Apple can now create seamless live photo loops using machine learning.
  • You can also use new machine learning tools to create long exposures without the need for a complicated tripod setup.
  • Videos now use HEVC compression instead of H.264, for “up to 2 times” greater compression. Images are using a new technology called HEIF to reduce file size on the iPhone 7.
  • Photos using the Portrait mode blur effect can now use optical image stabilization, flash, and HDR, making it more useful in various lighting conditions.

Apple Maps gets smarter

In order to make Apple Maps a solid alternative to the competition, Apple is adding a few features users have been requesting for some time. Most notably, perhaps, Apple is adding mall and airport maps, including detailed floor plans and directories. At airports, you can easily see how to get to security locations.

Meanwhile, navigation is finally adding lane guidance to help you be prepared for your next turn. And there’s now an on-screen speed limit indicator to keep you safe (though you will probably ignore it anyway).

One feature that can help you stay safer is a new ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ tool. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: It blocks incoming notifications and actually turns off your screen. You can tap on your display to turn it back on, and configure automated responses to let friends know you’re driving. That said, senders have the option to set a message as ‘urgent’ to make sure it gets through.

Credit: Apple

Better yet, the feature can automatically detect when you’re in a car by analyzing Bluetooth, location, and WiFi data.

The App Store gets a fresh new look

Apple is also completely redesigning the App Store for the first time since it launched. The new UI starts you off in a ‘Today’ tab that makes it easier to discover new apps (there are also dedicated tabs for games, apps and updates) . Meanwhile product pages for individual apps have been refined to highlight the most important details, and can now localize videos and screenshots to different regions.

 

iOS gets a proper file management app

One of the biggest pieces of news arrived shortly before the event: iOS finally has an honest-to-goodness Files app. Previously, you would need to jailbreak your iPhone if you wanted any sort of proper file management.

The app works as you’d expect , allowing you to access nested folders, recent files, search, and your choice of grid or list views. It’s also integrated with cloud services like iCloud, Google Drive, Box, and DropBox.

The iPad becomes a lot more like a MacBook

iPad users are getting a few nifty extras. Most notably, Apple’s Dock at the bottom of your screen is finally becoming useful – and a lot more like macOS. You can now include as many apps as you’d like in the Dock, and access it within any app by swiping from the bottom of your screen. It even uses AI to predict which apps you want to open next.

Moreover, you can finally drag and drop in iOS. You can drag an app from the Dock to the side of your screen to open it in slide-over mode. You can then drag and drop text and content in between apps.

People who try to get real work done on an iPad will also appreciate that the recent apps view now conserves your various split-screen workspaces. That means you can switch between apps and still maintain your multi-tasking setups.

Meanwhile, Apple has improved support for the Apple Pencil, taking a page from Microsoft’s Surface and adding annotation features to PDFs, Notes and the Mail app. You can even start drawing instantly by tapping the Apple Pencil on the display right from your lock screen.

Apple is finally paying attention to AR

Pretty much every major tech company has invested in AR or VR, which made Apple the conspicuous omission. That’s no longer the case: Apple today introduced ARKit to make it easy for developers to integrate AR experiences to iOS devices using the built-in camera and sensors.

iOS 11 is available for developers starting today, and will go into public beta near the end of June at beta.apple.com

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