It goes without saying that Apple will show off the next version of iOS at next year’s WWDC. It’s hard to believe, but this will be the eleventh iteration of iOS. Matter of fact, next year is a big year for another reason too: it’s the tenth anniversary of the iPhone.
And 2017’s iPhone are shaping up to be rather spectacular. Word on the street suggests there will be three new models in total; the most expensive will be where all the big changes happen, such as OLED panels, advanced imaging technologies and improved screen resolutions.
As it stands, there is plenty of debate about how this trio of iPhones will work in practice: will Apple leave all the major design changes for its big iPhone 8 Pro model, or will all three iPhones benefit from refined design language and OLED panels?
It’s tough to call at the moment, but you can check out ALL the iPhone 8 rumours in our dedicated iPhone 8 Rumours Thread.
Apple’s iOS platform debuted way back in 2007, and back then the OS was called iPhone OS 1.0. We don’t expect any retro name changes for the 11th iOS, however. So, what will iOS 11 offer feature-wise? As we’re only in December, there haven’t been a ton of leaks or rumors yet.
But notice we said “a ton” there? That’s because there have been some small leaks and other things we can infer based on what’s already available in iOS 10. Expect to see improved mapping, the long-awaited dark mode, and even some Snapchat-like features baked right into iOS.
The iOS platform is now a pretty well oiled machine. Everything is buttery smooth and flows, more or less, seamlessly. There are some elements that could be altered or amended and, as we’ve seen with Android, more customisation options would be nice.
Each new iteration of iOS brings with it some new, flagship features. Next year’s software could get even more interesting if Apple removed the Home buttons on its iPhone and iPad line-up, as rumours suggest. Doing this would mean part of the display would have to work with the software to create the effect of pushing or interacting with a button.
Beyond this we’ll likely see further refinements to functionality, hopefully a decent update to the Mail app and some hefty updates to Siri in order to bring it more inline with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
Here’s everything we know about 2017’s iOS 11 so far.
iOS 11: Preview & Release Dates
It’s almost certain iOS 11 will be previewed in June 2017. Why? Because Junes is usually when Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference kicks off. Like clockwork every year Apple has previewed the new version of iOS during the keynote of each WWDC.
Developers can expect to get their hands on the first beta of iOS 11 on the day of the keynote. As for consumers: usually they need to wait until mid-September when development has wrapped up completely, but eager users will most likely be able to download public betas of iOS 11 a few short weeks after developers get their hands on the beta. In that case expect to get access to the first public beta near the end of June.
iOS 11: The End of 32-Bit Support?
The arrival of iOS 11 could spell bad news for those running 32-bit iPhones. Apple might stop supporting 32-bit applications inside iOS 11, meaning those with anything older than an iPhone 5s WILL NOT be able to download the software.
Notes inside Apple’s iOS 10.3 beta build have warned developers that iOS 11 will stop supporting 32-bit altogether. Apple has been leaning on developers for the last couple of builds of iOS, but it now seems as if the period of support for 32-bit is coming to and end.
“Apps that aren’t updated to support 64-bit likely will be culled from the App Store,” reports Inq. “Last year, the company had pledged to remove apps that were orphaned, outdated, no longer met guidelines, or were in some way borked if they remained as was after 7 September.”
“Apple’s decision to drop support for 32-bit apps in iOS 11 later this year could kill about 187,000 apps, based on a new report that shows some old apps have been slow to catch up,” reports CoM.
It added: “Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates about 8% of all apps on the App Store will become obsolete. That small percentage may sound insignificant, but old games might be impacted the most.:
Basically: if you’re running an iPhone 5 or lower, it might be time to upgrade.
iOS 11 New Feature: iCloud Voicemail Will Leave Beta
Though it’s not heavily promoted, there’s a feature in iOS 10 that transcribes voicemail messages you receive and then show you the transcribed message with a tap of a button. As BI says: “Apple’s proposed solution is both incredibly simple and incredibly clever: People like to leave voicemails (it’s often quicker to orally deliver your information than it is to type it in a text message). But they don’t like to receive voicemails (it’s a lot quicker to read a text than it is to listen to the person talking to you). The new product will also bridge a generation gap: Older users like voicemails. Young people do not.” Right now, the feature doesn’t work too well, which is why Apple has the “BETA” label slapped all over it. Yet they are certainly to make it work much better, so expect it to be a key feature in iOS 11.
iOS 11 New Feature: Improved Maps Using Drone Data
Another possible inclusion in iOS 11 is continued improvement to its Maps app. Bloomberg has come out with a report saying that Apple is set to start using a fleet of drones to get better mapping data in hopes of catching up with Google.
“Apple Inc. plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Cupertino, California-based company is assembling a team of robotics and data-collection experts that will use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans, one of the people said.
Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.”
But beyond street level data, Apple also wants to improve indoor mapping too:
“Apple is also developing new features for Maps, including views inside buildings and improvements to car navigation, another person familiar with the efforts said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private projects. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.”
iOS 11 New Feature: Snapchat-like Video Sharing App
iOS 11 could also see Apple try to directly take on Instagram and Snapchat with a new social media app that lets users share video, another Bloomberg report says.
“Apple Inc., seeking to capitalize on the popularity of social networks, is developing a video sharing and editing application and is testing new related features for its iPhone and iPad operating systems.
The early plans are part of a newly directed focus to integrate social networking applications within Apple’s mobile products and are a response to the success of social media-focused companies such as Facebook Inc. and Snapchat Inc., according to people familiar with Apple’s strategy.”
“Now Apple is starting to develop a video sharing app that allows users to record video, apply filters and drawings to the media — much like Snapchat does — and send it to contacts or via existing social networks such as Twitter Inc., according to the people familiar with its development. The software is currently being designed to be used mostly with one hand and with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute, the people said. At least one of the prototype designs for the app would shoot video in an Instagram-like square shape, one of the people said.”
iOS 11 New Feature: More Natural Sounding Siri
Apple will also apparently look to improve Siri in iOS 11. This Siri update will feature a more natural sounding voice, however. Apple reportedly has a team in Cambridge working to make Siri sound more natural as a source told Business Insider: ”Those working inside are aiming to make Siri talk more naturally, according to a source that knows a number of Apple’s Cambridge employees.”
iOS 11 New Feature: Dark Mode
Dark Mode already exists in iOS 10, but it just hasn’t been unlocked to allow people to access it. This probably means Apple thought it wasn’t ready for prime time when iOS 10 was released. But as Apple has recently been more receptive to dark modes (the Apple TV has it now), expect to see Dark Mode to be a big feature in iOS 11.
iOS 11 New Feature: Contact Availability Status
A patent reveals iOS 10 might be able to show us when our friends are available and when they are away. As MacWorld notes, the patent could be “summarised as a system that detects where your friends are, and whether they’re available and the operating status of their iPhone (such as silent or Airplane mode), and presents that information in the Contacts app. If you’re thinking that has the whiff of surveillance about it – well, it does, but only to the same extent as Find My Friends, and it would presumably be optional for both parties.”