iOS 11 Review

On June 5th, Apple hosted their annual World Wide Developer Conference where they unveiled the latest iterations of macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and iOS. In this post, I want to cover some of the biggest changes to iOS, and specifically outline my opinion on the latest update. I am currently running iOS 11 Dev Beta 1, and have been doing so for over a week now. So, here we go, my top 11 features found in iOS 11.

New Control Center

One of the things that most probably will notice right off the bat is probably the newly redesigned control center. This new design change is an interesting choice, especially considering how it was just changed last year. It now poses a new widget style format, and in addition to that, customization has finally made it to iOS. What type of customization? For example, you can now choose which toggles are present instead of the default four (flashlight, calculator, clock, and camera). Probably my favorite one would have to be the new screen recording feature. For a long time, Apple has prohibited its users from recording their screens locally, but now, with a new toggle, you can record and share everything on your screen. I can see this coming in handy when I need to show someone how to perform a certain action. However, that is not all with the new control center. In fact, on non-3D-Touch based devices, you have a new version of 3D-Touch. You can now long press on a toggle, such as the flashlight, to be granted access to a broader spectrum of options. Overall, much has happened with control center.

All these features are fine and all, but personally, I am not the biggest fan of the design. I feel as if Apple could have better-implemented everything instead of having their toggles spread out in such an odd manner. However, it may just be me, but that is the main gripe I have with the change. 

“Dark Mode”

Take heed of those quotes I have around “Dark Mode.” It is not a “true” dark mode, but it is promising. There is now a feature that can be found under Settings à General à Accessibility à Display Accommodation à Invert Color à Smart Invert. Now your device will replace many of those brighter colors with less distracting colors. However, what sets this apart from other display filters is the fact that it preserves the color and tone of media, app designs, etc.

I think it is obvious what I do not like about this, and that is the fact that it is not a true dark mode. Things such as the dialer in the phone app are simply horrific to look at. Instead of preserving the green dialer button, it changes it to a bright pink. In addition, this feature only works well in a select few of Apple’s apps, and completely distorts images in third-party applications.

App Store

Let’s face it, the app store hasn’t changed very much over the many years it has been in service. It was justifiably reasoned that it was due for a design change. Instead of the classic texture that you are familiar with, you are now presented with both large banners featuring specific apps and redesigned sections which are now divided up into “Today, Games, Apps, Update, and Search.” The overall texture has changed, but was it done in the best possible manner?

This is probably the area I have the most problem with. I am not the biggest fan of the redesign. I have shown it to several other iPhone users that I know, and they to weren’t very enthusiastic about it. First off, it introduces a huge learning curve to the user instead of a gradual change. It also hides away certain information about your account that you would traditionally find at the bottom of the page, and relocates everything into a profiles tab. Shared purchases are nowhere to be found under the purchased section. I get Apple was trying to bring a new modern look, but in general, it is harder to find apps because one app takes up the whole screen, and it is almost impossible to find what you are looking for simply by scrolling. Lastly, why Apple, why? The App Store was changed whether we liked it or not, but why did you leave the iTunes Store looking just like the old one? If you are going to change one store, you should probably remain consistent with your design language. Overall, I personally do not like the redesign in the slightest.

Maps

This was a place that Apple was failing greatly in the competition. For a long time, Maps was bland and simply useless as compared to applications such as Google Maps and Waze. However, with iOS 11, I would dare to say that Maps saw its largest update since iOS 6. Apple Maps has successfully incorporated many of the amazing features of their competitors and put them all into one great package. For instance, the speed limit is now visible on screen while driving, and we finally get lane guidance! Speaking of driving, you now have a do not disturb feature specifically designed for maps to help prevent drivers from being distracted. All of this looks absolutely amazing on a CarPlay enabled vehicle. This may be a new feature, or it might not be, but I noticed once I started using Maps on iOS 11, I would now get prompted by the voice that I had chosen for Siri. What I mean by this, I currently use the “Male British” voice, and previously, all you could hear in maps was just the “Female American” voice. How about hose time you are not driving? Apple now offers walking directions within building such as malls and airports. This is a feature that I have been hoping Apple would someday implement.

This is one of the few features that I thought Apple did a reasonable job of implementing. Apple Maps was updated in a way that doesn’t prohibit a user from normal use. Though the overall UI didn’t change that much, the optimizations that were released bring about great tools for everyone!

Siri

Siri brought about some nice changes to include a better voice engine to bring about more authentic sounding responses, It is able to give more responses to question, and it got an interesting new look.

This is where I want to take a break to discuss something here. Apple has had about 5 years to improve Siri and granted it has begun to sound better, and become a little more useful, however, as compared to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even Microsoft’s Cortana, it is being smoked in their midst. Siri is simply now powerful enough to do some of the most basic of tasks. It generally lacks in capabilities, and this is mainly due to Apple’s tight restriction on Siri Kit which is their Siri-based API. For example, I should be able to use Siri to enable or disable Wi-Fi & Bluetooth, but no, I am limited to a certain set of system functions and designated app categories. Until Apple broadens the scope of Siri’s capabilities, I simply have little to be impressed with Siri.

Emergency SOS

This feature is quite interesting. Specifically, the fact that it was one that was added in a previous beta of iOS 10, but later removed. What Emergency SOS does is give users a quick way to contact emergency service in case of a crime or health emergency. That’s not all it does, however. It also can send a message to all your emergency contacts, alerting them of your situation as well as your location. I can see this tool saving someone’s life in the future. In fact, Apple’s attention to safety has already prevented the tragic deaths of several individuals. Though this isn’t new, the medical ID within the health app can be accessed from the lock screen alerting bystanders to any medical conditions one may be suffering from. This has been available on the Apple Watch for about a year now, and it is nice to see Apple bring this feature to the iPhone.

Storage Optimization

This is a big deal, especially in the lower capacity iPhones. For a long time, running out of storage has plagued users, but now, you can store much of your data in the cloud. iMessage in iCloud can sync all your messages across your devices, which at the same time, leaves a degraded version to be stored locally on the phone. You can then retrieve this data when you select an image. Another tab I stumbled across was the “App Optimization” feature. What this does is simply remove an application off from your phone when you are running out of memory, preserving the data from that application, and upon redownload, it restores that data right back into the app.

Loss Of 32-bit Support

With the rollout of iOS 11, none of your 32-bit applications will be able to run on your iOS device. With this drop of support, we will most likely see a massive eradication of the App Store library. In addition, all of those 32-bit applications will no longer even open on your device. When you try to run one of these applications, you will get a message that states that it cannot longer be opened, and you must contact the app developer for assistance.

This is an unfortunate action on behalf of Apple. However, I do understand the logic behind it. For one, 32-bit is simply not as well optimized as 64-bit applications, and developers have had months now to switch over to the new protocol, and yet, many still retained 32-bit architectures. On the other hand, though, many apps that individuals relied on are now gone. Blackboard, which I use heavily, is no longer supported. In this case, what I found interesting is the fact that it wasn’t updated since 2014! Another app that I have come to rely on is that of the X-32 Mix application which allowed for me to control the sound board at my local body of worship. (More on this in a future post!) So with the drop of 32-bit support, it is now up to the developers to decide if they want their apps to continue to be used by the masses.

Files

Files is a new application which Apple introduced at WWDC which promises to be the ultimate file management application. Though I haven’t been able to personally test it out, it looks to be promising. Upon release, one will be able to link all of their cloud sharing services, and access all of their files in one place; that would include iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.

Drag and Drop

Though Apple primarily demonstrated drag and drop features on their new iPad Pros, what they didn’t tell you is that you can also do this on the iPhone. For instance, let’s say you are in the new files app, and you have an image you want to add to Google Docs. With the new abilities of drag and drop, you can hold down on the file, go into the multitasker, and simply drop that file into place. I feel as if this was a needed change, and I am glad Apple decided to sneak that in.

Minor UI Tweaks

We all know about the new Control Center, but did you know Apple brought some new tweaks to their whole OS? For instance, the applications in the dock no longer possess labels. In addition, apps such as “Mail” and “Messages” now have the name of the application in bold text at the top left of the application window. Also, the signal strength bar has also gotten a slight tweak. Instead of the five dots that we have gotten accustomed to, Apple has decided to go back to its roots and replace those with four bars. One more example, the icons and text within the default weather app have gotten larger, which is a nice addition for those like me who had trouble making out the text in the previous iteration of iOS.

Enhanced Security

Anyone who knows me knows, I am adamant on the importance of security, especially in our ever-growing digital world. Everything is getting connected from our phones, computers, cars, and even our refrigerators. However, what do you do when some try to take advantage of others? You must improve your security tactics. That is what Apple continues to do with every revision of iOS. One feature that I want to discuss has to do with the ability to manage application’s use of your location. In older versions of iOS, many apps only allowed you to choose to give access to your location sometimes, always or never. However, most often than not, these three options never appeared at the same time. Apple has now made it so that apps must give a user permission to restrict location service only when that application is in use. This is a welcomed introduction, and it pleases me that Apple is taking this matter into account. Why does Amazon need to always know my location?

As you can see, iOS 11 is a major update filled with positive, and not so desired changes. As for me, I wish that iOS 11 could have been more. In fact, I expected more. What we got though seemed to be an OS that doesn’t live up to expectations. At this point, I want to throw out several questions for you to discuss. First off, what do you think of iOS 11? Is there any feature that you think Apple should have implemented? Was my review fair? I cannot wait to hear what you should say! 

 

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