14 Great Features of iOS 11 That Make Your iPhone or iPad Awesome

Your device is already awesome, but how about making it MORE awesome?

Whether you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, iOS 11 delivers hundreds of improvements coming to your device. If you own an iPad, iOS 11 is especially important. Many of the biggest changes introduced with this version of the iOS make the iPad an even-more-powerful productivity tool that can even replace a laptop for some users. Here are our picks for the 14 best features that debuted with iOS 11.

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The iPad, Now a Laptop Killer

iOS 11 on iPad


The iPad gets the biggest improvements from iOS 11. Along with the other features mentioned in this article, the iPad is so much better with iOS 11 that it can now be a real laptop-replacement for many people.

The iPad in iOS 11 has improved multitasking, a dock for storing and launching commonly-used apps, support for dragging and dropping content between apps, and a Files app that manages files like on a Mac or Windows computer.

Even cooler are productivity features like a document-scanner built into the Camera app and the ability to use the Apple Pencil to write on virtually any kind of document. With it, you can add handwritten notes to a document, convert written notes to text, draw on photos or maps, and more.

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Augmented Reality Changes the World

iOS 11 Augmented Reality


Augmented Reality—which lets you place digital objects into real-world scenes and interact with them—has huge potential to change the world. It arrives in iOS 11.

AR isn't built into any of the apps that come with iOS 11. Instead, the technology is part of the OS itself, meaning that developers can use it to create apps. So, expect to start seeing a lot of apps in the App Store that tout their ability to overlay digital objects and live data onto the real world. Good examples could include games like Pokemon Go or an app that lets you hold up your phone's camera to a restaurant's wine list to see real-time ratings for each wine from the app's users.

Want to check out some augmented reality apps? See our suggestions in The Best AR Apps for iPhone.

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Peer-to-Peer Payments With Apple Pay

iOS 11 Payments


Venmo is a popular app that lets you pay your friends for shared expenses like rent, bills, or to split the cost of dinner. Apple is bringing Venmo-like features to the iPhone with iOS 11. Combine Apple Pay and Apple's free texting app, Messages, and you get great peer-to-peer payments. 

Just go to a Messages conversation and create a message that includes the amount of money you want to send. Authorize the transfer with Touch ID or Face ID and the money is withdrawn from your Apple Pay account and sent to your friend. The money is stored in an Apple Pay Cash account (also a new feature) for later use in purchases or deposits.

For step-by-step instructions on how to send money using Apple Pay, check out How to Use Apple Pay Cash.

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AirPlay 2 Delivers Multi-Room Audio

iOS 11 AirPlay 2


AirPlay is Apple's technology for streaming audio and video from an iOS device (or Mac) to compatible speakers and other accessories. It's long been a powerful feature of the iOS. In iOS 11, the next-generation AirPlay 2 takes things up a notch.

Instead of streaming to a single device, AirPlay 2 can detect all AirPlay-compatible devices in your home or office and combine them into a single audio system. Wireless speaker maker Sonos offers a similar feature, but you have to buy its pricey hardware to get it.

AirPlay 2 lets you stream music to any compatible device or to multiple devices simultaneously. With it, you could hold a party where every room has the same music playing or create a surround-sound experience in a room dedicated to music. 

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Photography and Live Photos Get Even Better

iOS 11 Photos


The iPhone is the world's most widely used camera, so it makes sense that Apple is constantly improving the photo features of the device. 

In iOS 11, there are tons of subtle improvements to photography features. From new photo filters to improved skin-tone colors, still photos will look better than ever.

Apple's animated Live Photo technology is smarter, too. Live Photos can now run on endless loops, have a bounce (automatic reverse) effect added, or even capture long-exposure images.

Apple is also introducing two new file formats with iOS 11 that should interest anyone who takes a lot of photos or videos and needs to conserve storage space. HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) will make images and videos up to 50% smaller with no reduction in quality. 

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Siri Gets Multilingual

Siri on iOS 11


Every new release of the iOS makes Siri smarter, including iOS 11.

One of the smarter new features is Siri's ability to translate from one language to another. Ask Siri in English how to speak a phrase in another language (Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are supported first) and it will translate for you.

Siri's voice is also improved. Now it sounds more like a person and less like a human/computer hybrid. With better phrasing and emphasis on words and phrases, interactions with Siri should feel more natural and easier to understand.

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Customizable, Redesigned Control Center

iOS 11 Control Center


Control Center is a great way to quickly access some of the most-used features of the iOS, including music controls, and turning on and off things like Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode and Rotation Lock.

With iOS 11, Control Center gets a brand new look and becomes much more powerful. First off, Control Center now supports 3D Touch, meaning that many more controls can be packed into a single icon.

Even better, though, is that you can now customize the controls available in Control Center. You can remove the ones you never use, add in the ones that will make you more efficient, and let Control Center become a shortcut to all the features you need.

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Do Not Disturb While Driving

iOS 11 Do Not Disturb While Driving


A key new safety feature in iOS 11 is Do Not Disturb While Driving. Do Not Disturb, which has been part of the iOS for years, lets you set your iPhone to ignore all incoming calls and texts so you can focus (or sleep!) without interruption.

This feature extends the idea for use while driving. With Do Not Disturb While Driving enabled, calls or texts that come in while you're behind the wheel won't light up the screen and tempt you to look. There are emergency override settings, but anything that reduces distracted driving and helps drivers focus on the road will bring major benefits.

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Save Storage Space With App Offloading

iOS 11 Offload Apps

Apple; screenshot: Engadget

No one likes to run out of storage space (especially since you can't upgrade memory on iOS devices). One way to free up space is to delete apps, but that means you lose the settings and data for that app. Not on iOS 11.

The new OS includes a feature called App Offloading. This lets you delete the app itself while saving data and settings from the app on your device. With it, you can save the things you wouldn't be able to get back and then delete the app to free up space. Decide you want the app back later? Just redownload it from the App Store and all of your data and settings are waiting for you.

There's even a setting to automatically offload apps that you haven't used recently to intelligently increase your available storage.

Need to free up even more space to perform an OS upgrade? Find out how in How to Update iPhone When You Don't Have Enough Room.

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Screen Recording Right on Your Device

iOS 11 Screen Recording

Apple; screenshot: Mavic Pilots

It used to be that the only way to record what was happening on your iOS device's screen was either to hook it up to a Mac and do the recording there or jailbreak it.

That changes in iOS 11 thanks to a built-in feature for recording your device's screen. This is great if you want to record and share a game session, but also super helpful if you develop apps, websites, or other digital content and want to share in-progress versions of your work.

You can add a shortcut for the feature in the new Control Center and videos are saved in the new, smaller HEVC format to your Photos app. 

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Simple Home Wi-Fi Sharing

iOS 11 Wi-Fi Sharing

Apple Inc.; Wi-Fi image: iMangoss

We've all had the experience of going to a friend's house (or having a friend come over) and wanting to get on their Wi-Fi network, only to have them take your device so they can enter a 20-character password (we're definitely guilty of this). That ends with iOS 11.

If another device running iOS 11 or higher tries to connect to your network, you'll get a notification on your iOS device that this is happening. Tap the Send Password button and your Wi-Fi password will be automatically filled in on your friend's device. 

Forget typing in long passwords. Now, getting visitors on your network is as simple as tapping a button.

This is particularly helpful if your password is hard to remember, since you can't look up a Wi-Fi password on your iPhone.

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Super-Fast Device Set Up

iOS 11 fast setup


Upgrading from one iOS device to another is pretty easy, but if you've got a lot of data to move, it can take a while. That process gets a lot faster in iOS 11.

Simply put your old device into Automatic Setup mode and use the camera on the new device to capture the image being displayed on the old device. When it locks on, many of your personal settings, preferences, and iCloud Keychain passwords are automatically imported to the new device.

This won't transfer all of your data—photos, offline music, apps, and other content will still need to be moved separately—but it will make setting up and transitioning to new devices that much quicker.

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Save Passwords for Apps

iOS 11 iCloud Keychain for Apps

Apple; screenshot: taj693 on Reddit

The iCloud Keychain in Safari saves your website passwords across all devices using your iCloud account so you don't have to remember them. Super helpful, but it only works on the web. If you need to sign in to an app on a new device, you still need to remember your login.

Not anymore. In iOS 11, iCloud Keychain now supports apps, too (developers will have to add it to their apps). Now, sign in to an app once and save the password. Then that login will be available to you on every other device signed in to your iCloud. It's a small feature, but one that removes one of that little annoyance from life that we'll be glad to see go. 

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A Much-Needed App Store Redesign

iOS 11 App Store Redesign


The App Store gets a whole new look in iOS 11. In keeping with the redesign of the Music app in iOS 10, the new App Store design is heavy on big text, large images, and—for the first time—it breaks games and apps into separate categories. That should make it easier to find the kind of app you're looking for.

Beyond a new look, there are new features, too. These include daily tips, tutorials, and other content that will help you discover useful new apps and get more out of the apps you already use.

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