Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 was chock-full of announcements from macOS High Sierra to the HomePod speaker. But the company’s new iOS 11 was especially notable thanks to a slew of features and tweaks that add up to a significantly more powerful operating system for the iPhone and iPad.
Some of the updates, such as the ability to drag and drop files and the all-new File System, feel a bit like Apple playing catch-up, but they’re welcome improvements, nonetheless.
We spent several minutes with iOS 11 on the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and we’re already looking forward to downloading the software when it’s available later this fall.
You can finally drag and drop
As a longtime iPhone user, one of my biggest pet peeves with iOS has been the simple able to drag and drop items — photos, documents, anything — the same way I could on my Mac. It’s a feature computer users have taken for granted for decades, but one that was mystifyingly absent on Apple’s mobile platform.
IOS 11 finally remedies that with the ability to drag and drop as you like. It doesn’t work exactly like it does on a Mac, though. Dragging and dropping several photos, for instance, means tapping and holding your finger on one image while tapping the other images, then swiping up at the bottom of the iPad’s screen to bring up the dock, then dragging those images over to the app.
It’ll take you a few minutes to remember the process, to be sure, and the process still doesn’t feel as intuitive as dragging and dropping on a Mac, but it gets the job done.
A file system
Apple is finally bringing the concept of the File System to iOS, and it’s about time. Previously, if iOS users wanted to access different files, they had to go to different apps: Photos for photos, Voice Memos for audio recordings and so on. With the new File System app, you can pretty much access anything you want in one fell swoop, regardless of whether they’re stored on your iCloud drive, Dropbox account or even Google Drive. If it’s hooked up to your phone, you can access it.
There are even more ways to multitask
For years, the iPad was effectively a mono-tasking machine. But recently, Apple has made significant strides in making it easy for users to juggle different apps all at once. With iOS 11, Apple wants you to know that your iPad is a serious multitasker. In fact, the ways you can multitasks are actually daunting. Now you can use the new App Switcher to quickly jump to and from your open apps. You can also open a second app from the iPad’s Dock, then drag it to the left side of the screen with a new feature called Slide Over. It all works as Apple advertises, and should make juggling easier for users — assuming they remember how.
IOS gets smarter
From Amazon (AMZN) to Facebook (FB), every tech company is deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning to make their products and services better, and Apple is no exception. Indeed, AI and machine learning pop up all over iOS.
The new Dock in iOS 11 features a new pane on the right side that suggests apps-based factors like which apps you opened recently and the last app you used on your iPhone and Mac. The Search feature is savvier than ever, too: it uses handwriting recognition technology now to include relevant notes in your search results.
Apple’s iOS 10 is available as a developer preview now, and will land on your iPhone and iPad later this fall.
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