A decade after Apple released the iPhone, and seven years after the introduction of the iPad, the forthcoming version of iOS is set to kill off yet more categories of apps. While new releases of iOS can bring uncertainty to some developers, they also tend to pack a raft of features that make life easier for end users.
Based on Apple’s keynote, and some of the industry conversation since iOS 11 was announced, here are 11 ways we think it will transform your iPhone and iPad for work:
1. Notes, notes, notes
Apple’s Notes app used to be super simple. Its simplicity meant that apps like Evernote were able to attract millions of users. Over the past few years, Apple started to add features so that users don’t need to turn to third-party note apps. iOS 11 accelerates that.
Let’s say you’re in a meeting doing a brainstorm on a piece of paper. With iOS 10, you had the ability to snap a picture of the paper and place it within notes. iOS 11 takes that and kills off document scanners in one fell swoop. Coming this Autumn, you’ll be able to use a powerful document scanner directly from the Notes app and then write over those scans (using your finger on iPhone/iPad or Apple Pencil on iPad Pro).
And then there is the ability to add tables and more formatting options than ever before. Heck, you can even customise the background to have grids, lines or other options.
And if you are using iPad Pro, it is now able to search words based on your handwritten notes.
So now if you need to sign a contract, add scans to a Note, search your handwriting, add tables or format notes, iOS 11 will give you the power to do so.
App Categories at risk: Document scanners, notes apps, simple sketch apps
2. Scan that code
Companies have been trying to make QR codes a thing in the West for over ten years now. One of the biggest challenges with QR codes, however, is that users need to have a reader downloaded. What this then entails is a process of several clicks to load the reader and point it at a target.
iOS 11 is going to change that.
With iOS 11, you’ll be able to pull your phone out of your pocket, swipe to the right and the native, built-in camera will be able to recognise the code.
With this, you can expect many more marketing campaigns to utilise QR codes as a call to action. And while Apple hasn’t directly said this on stage, given its unveiling of ARkit, could we also see QR codes being used to trigger augmented content?
We should also see a rise in the number of companies that include QR codes on business cards, documents and just about anything else.
Apps categories at risk: QR code readers
3. Drag & drop (iPad specific)
Apple has claimed for years that iPad is a viable laptop replacement for many people. While this may be true for people with very minimum computing needs, or people on the move, iOS has had more compromises over a desktop experience. But come iOS 11, and many more people may find that it fulfils all their computing needs (and in many cases, does more than they could with a laptop).
One of the best examples of this is the implementation of drag and drop. The easiest way to describe it is magical. Imagine being able to select links on a website, files in a folder, photos in your gallery – all at once – and drop them into another app. The only limit to Apple’s iOS drag and drop appears to be the number of fingers you feel like you can use.
And for developers who decide to take advantage of Apple’s new framework for drag and drop, there are thousands of ways that drag and drop can work in ways never before seen. When adding Apple’s approach to security and privacy, and this could be one of the most significant upgrades to how we interact with computers in the last month.
App categories at risk: Clipboard apps
4. File system
Starting with iOS 10, Apple added a new app called iCloud Drive. Now, Apple has replaced that with Files. With Files, Apple has just solved one of the biggest annoyances of using an iPad, or even iPhone, for work tasks. Files will be able to add services from the major cloud storage providers and enterprise file systems. Now, your files can all be in one place, tagged, sorted by recently opened and more accessible when you need them.
App categories at risk: Document managers
5. Customisable control centre
Apple has redesigned its control centre ever since it launched on iOS 9. Last year, it expanded to three screens, but with iOS 11, Apple is putting everything on one (scrollable) page. What’s significant with iOS 11 is the ability to customise what appears in your control centre. If Apple opens this to third-party developers, this could well become one of the quickest and easiest ways to access what people need to do most often.
Even without Control Centre being opened up, the addition of features like Screen Record will make it much easier to record examples of what is happening on your screen. And, if you are an app developer, much easier to record your app.
6. Siri Translation
While many would still like Apple to make Siri more powerful, iOS 11 will see Siri gain the ability to translate English to Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Over time, Apple will add more language support to Siri. However, for a quick translation, this could prove to be a benefit to iOS users.
App categories at risk: Translation apps (though admittedly, many still offer far more…and in many cases, it would be more useful to type to Siri – something it can only do as an accessibility option)
7. Dock (iPad specific)
As part of the redesign and rethinking of iOS for iPad, Apple is changing the bottom app bar in some significant ways. Come iOS 11, users will be able to add 13 static apps or folders, leaving space for three contextual apps, which are based on what you last used, what you may want to use, or the app you are using on another Apple device.
The dock is the main multi-tasking interface for iOS. You can use the dock to bring up whenever you want to jump into other apps, choose an app to hover on top of the screen (slide-over is technically gone), choose an app to split screen with (you can have slightly more control) or quickly grab documents. All in all, it is more reminiscent of OSX, just more powerful.
Augmented reality is not new. There are a plethora of platforms out there. ARkit has already been getting praise from the developer community. And you can bet that come Autumn (and beyond) there will be better ways for AR to be utilised for work and play.
It’s possible to see ARkit getting used for training, support, education and marketing. For more on ARkit, click here.
9. New keyboard
Did we fail to mention that the keyboard has had a big update? There have been enhancements to the iPhone keyboard to make it easier to use one-handed, and the keys also now have shortcuts for quickly entering punctuation or numbers.
Super useful, simple and clever.
10. Screenshot and markup
For some people, this has to be one of the best incoming features of iOS 11. You’ll be able to take multiple screenshots (which rest in the bottom left corner for a few seconds) that you can then do markup on and send on. This is an incredible time saver for anyone who has ever needed to communicate with colleagues on the move.
11. NFC reader support
So this one applies to anyone lucky enough to work somewhere with a swanky gym, with the latest gym equipment with NFC. With iOS 11, and specifically watchOS 4 and Apple Watch, you will be able to tap your device to a piece of gym equipment to pair your activity back with your Watch.
Not only this, but the support for NFC will likely open up opportunities for companies to also utilise it.
If you use iPhone for work, iOS 11 improves your experience and what you can do. If you use iPad, iOS 11 transforms your device and how you use it for work. For many, it is the iPad revolution they have been wanting. Paired with the latest iPad Pro’s, iOS 11 creates a new computing platform that is more powerful, more flexible and more accessible than ever before.
With advances coming to Siri and the entire experience of using an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, iOS 11 unlocks more of the potential for better mobile working.