Apple officially introduced this year’s release of iOS during its WWDC developers conference yesterday. The company has built several new features for the major update, including augmented reality support and iPad-exclusive capabilities. They are joined by two new iPad models.
Apple’s iOS launches are a regular yearly occurrence, so nobody was surprised when Apple took to the stage with version 11 yesterday. The new release is described as the “biggest ever” for iPad, but it also brings improvements for iPhone devices.
For the first time, Apple is debuting its own augmented reality ecosystem, giving iPhone and iPad developers access to computer vision technologies. ARKit will enable the creation of a new breed of iOS apps that can overlay content on the walls and floors of your home. You’ll be able to see these mixed worlds on your device’s display and interact with them by moving around.
ARKit works by handing control of the graphics processor, motion sensors and cameras inside iOS devices directly to the developer. It also encompasses a new suite of cutting-edge machine learning and digital vision systems that can intelligently work out the location of your device in 3D space. This is what allows digital content to be overlaid on the real world.
Apple has also worked to make iOS a more productive platform. Building on improvements launched last year, iOS 11 includes new multitasking features for the iPad that let you more quickly switch between apps and find important content. A new customizable Dock on the display lets you pin your favorite apps and documents to the screen for rapid task switching.
Apple has extended support for its Apple Pencil stylus across the operating system so you can interact with the pencil and take notes wherever you are. If you’ve got a “must-keep” idea that you need to note down in an instant, you can tap Apple Pencil on the iPad’s lock screen to immediately open the Notes app to a blank page.
New iPad Pro models
These features are designed to make the most of the latest iPad hardware. The long-rumoured 10.5-inch iPad Pro finally made an appearance at WWDC, replacing the outgoing 9.7-inch version. There’s also an upgraded 12.9-inch edition. Both feature a new Apple A10X Fusion processor for improved performance.
Apple has also developed a specialist display technology called ProMotion. This has led to the introduction of a 120Hz refresh rate for reduced response times. It lowers the latency when using Apple Pencil and delivers smoother animations across iOS. This is helped by the A10X processor itself, which Apple claims is 30 percent faster at raw compute performance than the A9X.
“These are by far the most powerful iPads we’ve ever created with the world’s most advanced displays featuring ProMotion, the powerful new A10X Fusion chip and the advanced camera system of iPhone 7,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing. “Together with iOS 11 these new iPad Pro models will radically change what users can do with iPad.”
iOS 11 for iPhone
iOS 11 will also entail an inevitable slew of new features for iPhone users. There are several standout additions, including a new Driving Mode that mutes all notifications to keep you concentrated on the road. Apple has also added support for person-to-person payment transfers using Apple Pay, redesigned the App Store and improved iOS’ Control Center settings bar.
Many of the company’s stock apps have also been updated and improved. Apple Music now has expanded social features, Apple Maps includes indoor maps for major airports and shopping centers, and Apple News will keep you updated with personalized Siri-powered top story suggestions.
Apple said the new capabilities and features of iOS 11 would expand how people use their phones and tablets. The company hopes to usher in a new standard for mobile productivity, including support for emerging technologies like augmented reality.
“With iOS 11, we’re delivering the biggest AR platform in the world, and it’s available today for developers to begin building AR experiences using ARKit for hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iOS 11 gives iPad users the powerful app functionality they need to take advantage of everything iPad is capable of, and brings hundreds of new features and incredible updates to the iOS apps iPhone and iPad users enjoy every day.”
iOS 11 can be downloaded as a Developer Preview today from Apple’s website. Apple recommends you do not install this version unless you are genuinely a developer as it’s still buggy and unstable software. The company will release a public beta later this month that’s safer for consumers to use. The update will land on all supported iPhone and iPad devices later in the fall.
The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro will start at $649 in the U.S. and be available in silver, space gray, gold and rose gold colors. The 12.9-inch version starts at $799 and lacks the rose gold color option. Pricing and availability for both will vary worldwide. The devices are available to pre-order today and will start shipping next week.
[Featured Image by Apple]