Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 11 | iLounge Article


Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 11

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App Store

The App Store in iOS 11 gets a major redesign — probably representing the biggest change since the App Store first debuted in 2008, and perhaps part of the incentive for Apple to simply remove the App Store in iTunes 12.7 rather than trying to bring the redesign to the desktop.

Although the App Store now presents a whole new layout, the changes are more cosmetic than functional — the App Store and the process of buying and downloading apps hasn’t significantly changed, only the way in which it’s all presented. A new “Today” view provides a card-style layout that mimics the style changes brought to Apple Music and News in iOS 10, while providing a dashboard for Apple’s App Store Editors to highlight and curate content in a whole new way — the App Store’s front page is now essentially a news feed with articles, how-to guides, themed collections of apps, and more.


Siri’s capabilities once again get expanded in iOS 11, with support for translating back and forth between English and Chinese, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

The Safari, Mail, Messages, and News apps also now feed into Siri’s proactive assistant to provide suggestions.

The Siri API for developers has also been opened up a bit farther, adding support for notes apps, banking apps, and QR codes.

iOS 11 also adds a more natural voice for the classic American female Siri, thanks in part to Apple’s efforts in the area of machine learning.

Camera & Photos

Last year Apple unveiled a new “Portrait Mode” for the iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 10.1, and iOS 11 expands that farther to support optical image stabilization, HDR, and the use of the flash.

Camera filters have also been redesigned and optimized for natural skin tones. Filter selection is now presented as a slider below the main camera view, where you can select from nomral, warm, and cool versions of vivid and dramatic filters, as well as mono, silvertone, and noir filters.

The Camera also gains support for reading QR codes. While third-party apps have long filled this gap, it’s arguably something that iOS should have been able to do by itself all along, so we’re happy to see it become part of the core functionality. It’s enabled by default, but you can switch if off using a toggle in Settings, Camera if you find it’s getting in the way.

In iOS 11, hidden photos will now be hidden from all albums in your library (except, of course, the built-in “Hidden” album), and not just from the main Photos timeline view (unlike before).

HEIF and HVEC Formats

With iOS 11, Apple has also switched to new, higher-efficiency formats — HEIF and HEVC — for storing photos and videos, which should result in new photos and videos taking up half the storage space, although your older photos won’t be converted to the new formats.

When sharing and exporting photos and videos, iOS will transparently convert them to JPEG and H.264 in the background to ensure maximum compatibility. Sharing with services like AirDrop will attempt to determine if the receiving device supports the newer formats and transmit the appropriate versions, but unless iOS can conclusively determine that the destination supports the HEIF/HVEC files, it will err on the side of caution and convert them.

Photos and videos uploaded to iCloud Photo Library will also be stored in the newer formats, thereby reducing the amount of bandwidth and iCloud storage required. Other devices that share your iCloud Photo Library will download the HEIF/HEVC versions if supported (iOS 11, tvOS 11, or macOS High Sierra), while devices running older iOS versions will get JPEG and H.264 versions delivered for viewing, however you won’t be able to edit them in these older versions.

If you’re concerned about guaranteeing maximum compatibility, you can switch to “Most Compatible” under Settings, Camera, Formats, although you’ll lose the ability to record 4K 60 fps and 1080p 240 fps video by doing so. If you’re using iCloud Photo Library, it’s probably a good idea to use “Most Compatible” until all of your devices are running iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

iCloud Photo Library

Thanks at least in part to the new higher-efficiency formats, photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library can also now be synced over a cellular data connection, although iOS 11 will try to intelligently manage your bandwidth to avoid excessive data usage. While it’s unclear exactly how this works, it appears that iOS 11 will transfer your photos or videos over cellular if you’ve only taken a small number of photos or recorded a shorter video, but still avoid syncing larger batches of photos or longer videos until you’re back on a Wi-Fi connection.

You can see this in action from the status message at the bottom of your Photos app. When you’re on a cellular data connection and have taken a large number of new photos or videos, you’ll sometimes note that your upload has been paused to save cellular data. Tapping on “Resume” will force the upload to continue, of course burning up more of your data, but otherwise your iPhone will wait until you’re back on Wi-Fi to finish uploading the rest of your photos.

Of course, like anything else that uses cellular data on your iPhone, you can block iCloud Photo Library from using cellular data at all by going into Settings, Photos, Cellular Data, and toggling off the option at the top. This effecively reverts to the pre-iOS 11 behavior. If you have a very large — or unlimited — data plan, the second option on this screen also allows you to override the limited data usage management, allowing full iCloud Photo Library uploads over your cellular connection.

The People album now syncs to iCloud Photo Library in iOS 11, providing a consistent view across all devices.

Live Photo Editing

iOS 11 also enhanced Live Photos with new effects and editing capabilites. Scrolling down when viewing a Live Photo in the Photos app provides a choice of Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure effects that can be immediately applied to the current Live Photo.

When editing a Live Photo, you can also now specify the key frame that you want displayed as the main image by selecting it from the filmstrip row below the Live Photo when in edit mode, and you can also now trim a Live Photo in the same manner as editing a video. A mute button in the top left corner also allows you to mute the audio portion of a Live Photo.

It’s also worth noting that you can now capture Live Photos during a FaceTime call.


Memory Movies have gotten better at adapting content for portrait and landscape viewing, and you can now select to share a portrait-oriented version of a Memory Movie. iOS 11 also expands the content that will be used for generating memories, including such things as pets, babies, weddings, and sporting events.

Animated GIFs

The Photos app now directly supports animated GIFs, and in fact even provides a built-in “Animated” album to collect them all. Live Photos that have had effects applied are also shown in here, as they’re basically converted to animated GIFs.


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