Apple Announces iOS 11 With All-New App Store, Native AR Support, iPad Productivity Perks

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Apple has just announced the latest iteration of its long-running iOS software platform, which powers hundreds of millions of iPads and iPhones around the globe. While iOS 11 doesn’t rewrite playbook with regards to the all-important user interface, there are a lot of thoughtful additions that have been made to make it even more useful for everyday consumers.

For starters, Apple Pay has gained the ability to tackle person-to-person transfers, allowing you to easily send or receive money to/from family and friends. This functionality is included across all iOS devices and the Apple Watch. Apple Pay Cash Card is also being announced alongside iOS 11; this where funds that are “held” once a person receives a funds transfer. From there, the money can be deposited electronically into your bank account.

Siri has gained the ability to perform on-the-fly translations from English to Spanish, French, German, Italian or Chinese. “On-device learning” has also been employed to not only make Siri give more useful suggestions, but it also has allowed Apple to infuse the digital assistant with a more natural speaking voice (in both male and female guise).

Apple announced iOS iMessages in iCloud, which syncs your messages across all devices on your account, so that you never miss a conversation. If you delete a message on one device, it will also be culled from all other linked devices. Apple says that this makes backups faster (by cutting down on messages taking up on-device storage) and makes for a more seamless messaging experience.

Apple is bringing augmented reality (AR) experiences to the iPhone and iPad with the announcement of ARKit. ARKit makes use of both the camera and onboard motion sensors on iOS devices to enable developers to provide “detailed and compelling virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more.”

There are a few iPad-specific optimizations that have been made in iOS 11, including the ability to use the Files app to access both local files or files located within iCloud Drive. You can even integrate Files with third-party services like Box and Dropbox. In addition, new Drag and Drop functionality makes it easier to copy text and move images between apps.

The App Store has been completely redesigned – it's first major redesign since it was introduced with iOS 2. Games receive their own dedicated tab with new App Store and a new “Today” tab gives you a daily overview on the best games and games, and what’s currently going in with “app culture”. Lush artwork and vivid videos will be presented featuring interviews with developers and will provide access to new releases and exclusive iOS content.

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Everything aspect of the App Store has been touched including product pages, app updates, and even search. 

Other enhancements in iOS 11 include “Do Not Disturb While Driving” which allows you to completely lock out your device from receiving alerts and notifications while you’re behind the wheel and a completely redesigned Control Center (AGAIN) which puts all controls on a single page. The Apple Maps app has been updated with indoor maps for major airports, lane guidance while routing, and speed limit alerts.

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“With iOS 11, we’re delivering the biggest AR platform in the world, and it’s available today for developers to begin building AR experiences using ARKit for hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users,” said Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of Software Engineering. “iOS 11 gives iPad users the powerful app functionality they need to take advantage of everything iPad is capable of, and brings hundreds of new features and incredible updates to the iOS apps iPhone and iPad users enjoy every day.”

iOS 11 is available to download now as a beta for developers. A public preview release will be available starting later this month.