When Apple rolls out a new version of iOS, it only gives stage time at its June developer conference to the most important and marketable features. That leaves tons of other new features that fly under the radar for users to find out on their own. For iOS 11, these hidden features include some pretty useful tools, such as a one-handed keyboard mode, a new way to interact with Siri, and even new AirPods controls. And now that the third public beta of iOS 11 is here, we're discovering even more interesting additions and enhancements as we try out the new OS.
Here are the coolest new iOS tricks that Apple hasn't really touted.
Users of iOS devices have to download often poorly-made third-party apps in order to read any QR codes, such as those used in membership programs at lunch spots. Apple's own Camera app will now feature its own QR-code scanner.
Image credit: Bloomicon/Shutterstock
If you live in a densely populated area, you're likely tired of your iPhone's attempts to join Wi-Fi networks every time it smells the faintest scent of connectivity. A new Auto Join Disabled feature, though, which stops your phone from automatically hopping onto networks with lesser signal quality, discovered by an iOS 11 beta user Ryan Jones, should put an end to that.
As the owner of a Plus-sized iPhone, I'm typically typing with both thumbs, which isn't convenient. The new one-handed typing keyboard in iOS 11 can be found by holding down on the emoji key and selecting it from the menu.
Last year's iOS 10 update added the ability to send a text in Messages in your own handwriting (or at least in whatever you could scrawl on an iPhone-sized screen). In iOS 11, Mail adds that capability. Just long-press on the screen to summon up the copy/paste pop-up window; scroll through all the options until you reach Insert Drawing. Tapping that option takes you to a blank page where you can use a virtual pencil, pen or marker to write out a message. When you're done, you can insert it directly into the body of an email.
It's not exactly a hidden feature, but unless you poke around in the Messages app, you may not know Apple has added two new screen effects to augment the text-enhancing features it first introduced in iOS 10. Joining the likes of Balloons and Fireworks are Echo and Spotlight, which pretty much do what their names imply. Echo repeats your message in a flurry of text across the screen while Spotlight shines a beam of light around your message.
You can now silence never-ending texting streams with a swipe. On the main Messages screen, go to your list of conversations and swipe left on any that are droning on too long for your liking. Next to the Delete option, you'll get a Hide Alerts command, which you can use to drop out of the conversation. Swiping left again will bring up Show Alerts command in case you're ever gripped by any fear of missing out.
iOS has always offered a darker display mode, where it inverts colors. Unfortunately, that effect also warped photos, giving your eyes the sensation of a bad acid trip. A new Smart Invert setting (found in Settings by tapping on General, then Accessibility, then Display Accommodations and then Invert Colors) will try to do this one better, turning light backgrounds dark, but not touching images and icons. The implementation is hit-or-miss in the first public beta of iOS 11 — Apple's apps fare better than third-party options — but we expect things to improve with the final release of iOS 11.