iOS 11: The 10 best features you won't be able to live without

Ready for some new iPhone and iPad features? iOS 11 is now out of beta and ready for the public. Here are the best features that came with it.

ios 11 control center iphone

Ready to take it up to 11?

Get ready to back up your iPhone and iPad: iOS 11 is here. Apple released the latest version of its mobile operating system on Tuesday, introducing us to a handful of brand-new features. In fact, this version of iOS feels like the most ambitious version of iOS that Apple has launched in a while. Here are the best new features that we already can’t live without. 

For more on iOS 11, check out our complete iOS 11 review

ios 11 siri translation

Siri's new tricks

Siri is one of those features that keeps getting better with each software upgrade, and iOS 11 is no exception. This time, Siri gets a new voice, plus a super-helpful visual interface that lets you even edit your voice request with text input. And now, Siri is able to translate phrases for you—it can process English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Apple said that it will add more languages in the months to come.

ios 11 control center

Customizable Control Center

Currently, Control Center in iOS 10 takes up two panels, so you have to navigate to the second panel to access volume controls. However, iOS 11 brings everything back to a single screen and relies more on 3D Touch. Not only that, but you can also customize which controls you’d like to have on there. You can add new controls to quickly access your Wallet, turn on Low Power Mode, and even start Screen Recording—an all-new feature for iOS.

For more on iOS 11’s Control Center, check out our Control Center how-to.

ios 11 live photos effects

New Live Photo effects

Apple has given us more reasons to want to take Live Photos, those GIF-like moving images. In iOS 11, you can add effects to your Live Photos after you take them. Find a Live Photo on your camera roll and then swipe up. You will be able to add a looping effect to your photo or make it “bounce” back-and-forth, similar to an Instagram Boomerang. You can also make it a long exposure shot for better photos of low-lit scenarios.

ios 11 ipad drag and drop

Drag-and-drop on iPad

iOS 11 makes for better multitasking on iPad. Now you can drag-and-drop images, links, and files between apps that are open side-by-side, either in Split View or Side Bar mode. In fact, you can drag-and-drop an app from Dock onto Side Bar mode, and drag that secondary app from the right to the left side of the screen.

For more on iOS 11’s drag-and-drop feature, check out our drag-and-drop explainer

ios 11 screenshot markup

Markup your screenshots

Everytime you take a screenshot in iOS 11, it will automatically remain floating on the lower left. You can swipe it offscreen to save it to your camera roll as per usual, or you can tap on it to go into Markup. So now, you can add handwritten notes or comments either with your finger or with your Apple Pencil if you’re using an iPad Pro.

ios 11 apple music profiles

Social profiles in Apple Music

Apple Music gets social in iOS 11. Taking a page from Spotify, Apple Music members now have a profile on the streaming app. You can use your profile page to showcase your favorite playlists, as well as the albums you’ve recently listened to. You can also follow friends on Apple Music, and their profile photo will show up next to the albums they’ve listened to. However, there is currently no way to listen to music on private or secret mode, so be ready for your Apple Music followers to get a glimpse at all your guilty pleasures.

ios 11 do not disturb while driving

Do Not Disturb While Driving

This feature could be a real life-saver. iOS 11 also introduces “Do Not Disturb While Driving” so that the screen goes totally dark when you’re on the road. You can activate this mode manually via Control Center or have it turn on automatically whenever you’re connected to CarPlay or a car’s Bluetooth. In addition, you can go into your Do Not Disturb Settings to setup an automatic response to all your incoming texts to alert people that you’re driving and will get back to them as soon as you arrive.

For more on iOS 11’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, check out our Maps explainer

ios 11 document scanner in notes

Document scanner in Notes

There’s no reason to run to the office scanner anymore, thanks to iOS 11. Using the Notes app you can now press the plus (+) sign to access an all-new document scanner. You can scan several documents at once and apply different filters. The scans can be saved inside your Notes, and you can also export them as PDF files that are Markup-friendly, so you can add your signature and send it back.

ios 11 search handwritten notes

Search for handwritten Notes

Another cool feature that iOS 11 brings to Notes is the ability to search for things you’ve written our by hand. If you prefer to take notes using your finger or your Apple Pencil on iPad Pro, they are now searchable. 

ios 11 keyboard

QuickType keyboard improvements

iOS 11 also makes significant improvements to the software keyboard. On iPhone, you can press-down on the globe icon and choose one-handed mode. This will bring all the keys closer to either the left or right side of the screen to make it easier to type with one hand. You can also make one-handed mode your default keyboard by going into Settings. For iPad, you can now type numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks without switching to a secondary keyboard. Simply flick down on the key to insert the character you need. 

For more on iOS 11’s keyboard, check out our QuickType how-to

emoji shrug ios

What we're still waiting for

Apple previewed a lot of new features for iOS 11, but not all of them are yet available. Here’s a quick look at what’s to come later this fall.

1. Apple Pay Cash for sending or receiving cash within Messages

2. Indoor maps for Apple Maps to help you navigate popular shopping centers and major airports worldwide. 

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by Macworld's Editors