A few weeks ago, Apple released the public beta of its new iPhone operating system to the world. Generally, early-stage betas like this are riddled with bugs and definitely not recommended for anyone who isn’t a developer — you run a serious chance of wrecking your phone — but I decided to download it nonetheless out of an eagerness to see what Apple has in store for us when we update in the fall. (Also, because my editor asked me to.)
The beta is still, well, a beta, suffering from chronic battery-life issues, random buttons not working, and other sporadic general errors. But overall, it’s a great improvement. If you’re itching for a preview of what your iPhone will look like in a few short months — but don’t want to turn your phone into a disturbingly warm, virtual test subject — have no fear. Here’s a list of some of the biggest changes the new operating system has in store:
The Control Center got a facelift.
This is by far my favorite thing about iOS 11. Gone is the boring, monotone Control Center of days past, and here is the giant, streamlined display of the future! The new Control Center takes up the majority of the screen when you swipe up to view it, and it includes a variety of new functions, like a Low Power Mode button, Screen Recording options (more on this later), and music controls that are available on the primary screen. The majority of buttons have more advanced settings that you can access using Force Touch. The Control Center is also now customizable, allowing users to add and remove additional controls through the Settings app. Don’t want the calculator app taking up space? Remove it! Your Control Center is finally yours to design.
The new screenshotting controls are the update you didn’t know you needed.
Ever flip back through your photo library and wonder why on earth 2015-you needed 12 different screenshots of some article about dogs? Well, with the new iOS screenshotting features, future-you will wonder no longer. The new update introduces a variety of new features that bring advanced controls to the screenshotting experience. There’s finally a way to send — and even mark up — screenshots without cluttering up your library. Now, when you screenshot something, the image appears (in miniature form) in the lower left-hand corner of your screen, where you have the option to make edits, add mark-ups, and (perhaps most important) share it via Messages, Facebook, and a variety of other social-media platforms without saving it to your library.
Screen Recording is by far the best unannounced feature.
It’s like a screenshot, but a video! Apple has finally answered the prayer I didn’t know I had made. With this handy little feature — also conveniently located in the Control Center — you can capture whatever is happening on your screen in a video format and share it with the world. While there have technically been ways to do this in earlier iOS, it relied on a hodgepodge of third-party apps and a lot of frustration. With the introduction of this native display-recording feature, you can finally show the world how much time you spend aimlessly scrolling through Instagram with ease!
You can finally make everything in your life into a GIF, just like God intended.
Live Photos gets a big update in iOS 11 with the introduction of a variety of effects that can be applied from within the Photos app. You can turn your mini-photo burst into a makeshift GIF using “Loop”; into Apple’s version of a Boomerang via “Bounce”; or into an impressive-looking blur (that is, if you’re photographically challenged, like me) through “Long Exposure.” The new operating system also brings with it the option to finally (finally!) choose which frame from the Live Photo burst you want to use as the main image. Say goodbye to all those frustratingly blurry stills!
Notes have gotten notably better.
The Notes app gets a much-needed update in iOS 11. You can now add tables, to-do lists, and drawings to your note — and adding photos has never been easier. The new update has streamlined the process of including images, which makes it much simpler to create a note from within the Photos app.
You never have to remember a password again!
The new update extends Safari’s password autofill feature beyond the confines of the browser. In iOS 11, you no longer have to remember each and every password you use for your apps — or even visit a third-party password manager to copy and paste them over. Instead, the in-app autofill procedure fills in your username and password with ease; all you have to do is authenticate using either your device password or Touch ID. Passwords can be managed through the Settings app, where you have the option to add and remove login information for specific sites and apps.
Say bye-bye to the notification center!
The notification center that you have grown to know and love is being replaced … by the lock screen? Now when you swipe down, you’re brought to the screen where your notifications are displayed when your phone is locked. This change definitely takes some getting used to. And if you’re a user who has disabled Message Preview when your phone is locked, it can get pretty annoying. You won’t be able to read an iMessage without being actually inside the Messages app, which is pretty counterintuitive if you’re trying to avoid sending Read receipts …
Texting with one hand on your giant iPhone 6s Plus has never been easier.
Of all the first-world struggles out there, this may be one of the most frustrating. You spent God knows how much on your plus-sized iPhone, and yet you still must devote two whole hands each and every time you want to type. The struggle is undoubtedly real. If this sounds like you, iOS 11 is the operating system you’ve been waiting for, as it brings with it a much needed update to the keyboard that includes optimization for single-hand typing. (Both lefties and righties rejoice!)
It’s not very straight-edge …
Kinda like the new Twitter update that everyone just loved, iOS 11’s design seems to be a love letter to the curve. Rounded edges are everywhere in iOS 11 — in Notes, Messages, and the new Control Center — but no change is more obvious than in the App Store’s complete overhaul. Every inch of the platform has been redesigned, from the search function to the updates tab, and these changes go beyond pure aesthetics: The all-new App Store now features a “Today” tab, which highlights editors’ picks and currently trending apps.
Finding space for all your
sad, lonely selfies photos of your friends and family has never been easier
iOS 11 takes the god-awful responsibility of trying to find space on your device out of your hands through the addition of a number of new features. In the iPhone Storage section in Settings, you can now choose to enable settings like “Auto Delete Old Conversations” (which saved me a surprising 1.97 GB of storage), and “Offload Unused Apps,” which temporarily offloads unused apps until you need them.
If you think your iPhone is up for the challenge — or if you just can’t wait to be able to text single-handedly — you can take the plunge and download iOS 11 here at your own risk. It’ll (probably) be fine.