WWDC 2017: Apple looks to make iOS 11 smarter, separates the iPad experience
There is generous use of artificial intelligence, Apple’s own apps have been given significant updates and the iPad experience is significantly different from before
It was expected that Apple would share a preview of the next iteration of the iOS operating system for the iPhone and the iPad at its ongoing Worldwide Developers’ Conference. It was also expected that the Cupertino-based firm would carry on with the same number scheme sequence, and that the new software would be called iOS 11.
The keynote to flag off WWDC 2017 confirmed that iOS 11 is headed our way in fall, which is also the time the new iPhone is expected to be launched.
With iOS 11, Apple has sought to upgrade the experience of its own apps, and give developers more access to better tools for designing apps including deeper access to parts of iOS such as Apple Music which will make third-party apps significantly more powerful. iOS 11 also comes with a generous use of artificial intelligence capabilities. It does not get a massive overhaul in terms of the visual appeal or the features, but there seem to be enough changes under the hood to make a difference.
Here are some.
Siri + deep learning
Apple says that as many as 375 million devices use Siri every month. The next iOS will give Siri deep learning capabilities. The voice assistant will now sound more natural. But the bigger gamble is with contextual learning and the predictive suggestions that it’ll now try to offer. For instance, it’ll not only try to understand which apps you use and at what time of the day, but also suggest topics based on what content you are viewing on the phone. It will also learn new words from what you’ve been browsing on the web, and throw them up as suggestions when you are typing.
The assistant also gets a new interface, and will now show multiple results for queries based on context and alternatives. Apple is also adding the translate feature, which though sis still till in beta, to Siri. The assistant will be able to translate from English to select languages at the moment. Siri will also be deeply integrated with apps, to better manage tasks on these apps too, such as Evernote.
An upgraded camera app
Apple says iPhone users click 1 trillion photos every year. iOS 11 will witness an upgrade to the camera app, and will now save images in a new format with better compression techniques that use less space on the device and the cloud, yet reproduce the same details. The iOS 11 Photos app will also be completely refreshed, with machine learning capabilities, to identify events and memories for automatic sorting of photos. Another new feature is the ability to do deeper edits to photos, including the ability to trim Live photos and pull out still images from them.
Apple Music, which got a new design and feature updates last fall, has now clocked 27 million active users globally. The latest update adds the ability to know what your friends are listening to. Third-party apps will also get access to your entire Apple Music library. This will include apps such as Shazam getting the ability to auto add discovered songs to your library.
Perhaps, the biggest change with iOS 11 is that it will get a bunch of completely exclusive features for the iPad Pro range of tablets, to take advantage of their larger screens and the push to enhance productivity tasks. For starters, the app bar at the bottom of the screen will now have space for even more apps. There will be a predictive feature too, for apps used frequently.
Users will also be able to drag apps into a split view on the display—this is incredibly simple, and will be particularly useful on the larger iPad Pro 12.9 tablet. Users can now also drag and drop content on the iPad between apps. The on-screen keyboard has been redesigned as well. There is also a new Files app and this is perhaps the best news yet, and something that could really make the iPad Pro an alternative to laptop computers. It will be like the Finder app in macOS and all local as well as cloud storage files will be available within one app. Cloud storage services include iCloud, Dropbox and Box.