Sunnyvale, Calif. — Holding off on upgrading your trusty old iPhone? You won’t need a spiffy iPhone 8 in order to get new maps, photos and other features with a free software update Apple began rolling out Tuesday.
The iOS 11 update brings a variety of enhancements, including a new voice and functionality for the Siri virtual assistant and a new photo format to reduce file sizes.
Consider waiting a few days in case unexpected problems emerge. The update will work with iPhones and iPads going back a few years, but older models won’t get all the new features.
Once you get iOS 11, here are four things to look for.
Look and feel
The Control Center offers easy access to the flashlight and other tools with a swipe up from the bottom. It got separated into multiple pages last year to increase the options available, but the extra swipes got annoying. With iOS 11, it’s back to a single page. The extra options remain available, and Apple now lets you customize further, such as by adding an Apple TV remote or one-touch access to the voice recorder.
After taking a screenshot, you’ll now see a thumbnail in a corner. Tap on it for the ability to quickly annotate and share it. Need to remember where you parked your car? Just screenshot a map and draw an arrow.
The update brings additional camera filters to tweak your photos. To find them, you can now swipe up as you’re taking the shot; swipe down when you’re done. With camera improvements, the iPhone 8 models automatically use an exposure-balancing technology called HDR and no longer save unadjusted versions. You can restore that in the settings, though it’ll use more storage.
Apple Maps now offers speed limits and lane guidance on highways and indoor maps for some airports and shopping malls.
New types of apps
Remember last year’s gaming sensation “Pokemon Go” ? For many people, it was their first taste of augmented reality, the blending of virtual images with real-life settings.
More augmented reality apps are coming with new tools Apple is including with iOS 11. Among other things, you’ll be able to see how furniture will look in your real living room before you buy it.
Apple already has artificial-intelligence software for cataloging photos and other internal features. It’s now making those tools available to third-party developers. Such apps might automatically identify food in an image and offer nutrition information.
For the ipad
As Apple tries to market its iPad Pro tablets as a laptop alternative, the iPad’s software takes on characteristics resembling the Mac computer.
A dock at the bottom offers quick access to recent and frequently used apps. The iPad gets new drag and drop capabilities to make it easier to move text and other content between apps. For instance, you can drag a location on a map into an email.
Apple’s payment system, Apple Pay, already lets people buy items at a retail store with a tap of the phone. It also enables web orders and charity donations.
Coming soon is the ability to pay friends back for dinner or drinks, much the way PayPal and Venmo work. Also coming later is the ability to sync Apple’s Messages app between devices.
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