iPhone users should get ready for iOS 11, because Apple's new operating system is ready for them. The final version of the operating system is now ready to download, just a few days before Apple's new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus hit stores.
You'll need at least an iPhone 5s or later, an iPad Air, an iPad Pro, an iPad mini 2 or later, a fifth-generation iPad or a sixth-generation iPod touch to use the new software. Here's an overview of what you can expect when you take iOS 11 out for a spin, along with a more in-depth look at iOS 11.
Apple is invading Venmo's territory by adding Apple Pay-based peer-to-peer payments to its Messages App.
In iOS 11, you will be able to send funds to your contacts more easily, as well as make requests. When a contact asks you for money, opening that notification will send you to Messages, and the Quick Type keyboard will offers an Apple Pay button for seamless transactions. The feature isn't ready as iOS 11 launched; instead, Apple plans to add it with an update later this fall.
Siri has existed on the iPhone for years, but now it is going to be integrated with third-party apps. Those apps include Evernote, WeChat and Things, though we're hoping that Spotify will also be on the list.
Another enhancement to Siri will make the voice assistant your own translator. You can speak to it and then have Siri speak your words aloud in a different language. Supported languages in the iOS 11 beta are Spanish, German, French, Italian and Mandarin Chinese.
Siri will sound more natural when it speaks those words, as Apple's added multiple levels of intonation, which was demonstrated by it saying "sunny" in three different tones.
Every update to iOS brings promises of a smarter Siri, with the results sometimes mixed. With iOS 11, though, some of Siri's suggestions sound like they're going to be more on point. Apple says that its digital assistant will use on-device learning to find out about things that you're interested in, whether it's a particular topic, place or activity. Browse for information on the Golden State Warriors in Safari, for example, and the iOS 11 version of Siri might figure out that you're interested in basketball, suggesting stories of interest in the built-in News app.
The beta version of iOS is already showcasing some of this behavior. Let's say you find yourself in a Wikipedia hole, reading about the history of the NBA playoffs. Go to type in a new URL, and before you start typing, Siri will serve up suggested topics ("Boston Celtics" and "Miami Heat" in this instance) that it thinks are relevant to what you're reading about.
Siri shares what it knows with the rest of your Apple devices — though not with Apple — so that contextual knowledge follows you from device to device.
There's more than one way to talk to Siri in iOS 11. For those times when Siri just doesn't seem to grasp what you're saying, you can type a question instead. After asking Siri a question, a Tap to Edit option appears, that lets you correct anything Siri misheard. It's not the most elegant solution, especially compared to Google Assistant, which offers tappable options for those times when you don't want to talk (even in its iOS version). Still, an option that lets you get your point across to Siri is a welcome addition.
AirPlay has long been a great Apple technology for streaming video to the Apple TV from iPhones, iPads and Macs; iOS 11 promises to make it even better. AirPlay 2 adds HomeKit support, which gives households the option for multi-room audio for speakers that support the feature, so you can fill your entire home with that podcast you're listening to or your favorite tunes when you throw a party.
If you text on all of your Apple devices, you've noticed that the messages can become out of sync. In iOS 11, setting up your iCloud account on a new device downloads all of your Messages onto it, so you won't be stuck waiting for new ones. In Settings, tap on Messages and then toggle on Messages on iCloud to turn on this feature. (Or at least, you can do that once Apple activates the feature in a future update.) Also, deleting a message on one device will delete it across them all, so you need not worry about private data getting out.
iOS 10 integrated apps into Messages, letting you do things like send location information, movie times and, of course, stickers to friends in your iMessages. It was a great addition, but the interface for picking out apps was a bit cramped, particularly on iPhones with smaller screens. iOS 11 introduces an app slider along the bottom of the screen that makes it easy to find apps that integrate with Messages. And an App Store icon gives you quick access to apps that have built-in Messages support.