iOS 11 release date, news and features

Update: The iOS 11 release date for public beta testers is any day now, as Apple just launched the developer beta 2. Everyone else can get it later this month. We've outlined the big features below while you wait to test it out.

New iOS 11 features are transforming your iPhone and iPad, and Apple's update is either out now or three months away, depending on who you are.

It's an especially big upgrade for the iPad. Apple's tablet becomes a true laptop replacement (for some people) with revamped iOS multitasking. Both the iPad and iPhone get a much-needed Control Center reorganization, too.

There are new camera modes, Siri is smarter, and iOS 11 (finally) thrusts Apple to the forefront of augmented reality innovation. The iPhone 8's AR rumors are all but confirmed at this point.

Here are all of the iOS 11 features announced at Apple WWDC 2017.

iOS 11 dock makes iPad multitasking easy

The new iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 are becoming a laptop replacement for many people, and iOS 11 makes that easier to realistically pull off.

New multi-tasking grid view with a redesigned Control Center

iOS 11 includes a dock just like a Mac computer, and it follows you from app-to-app along the bottom. It's hidden, but you can always swipe up to access it.

The bottom app dock also shows up in the multitasking menu, which is now laid out in a grid. It's so much easier to jump between apps now, like on a MacBook. 

Drag and drop comes to the iPad

Drag and Drop also debuts on iOS 11, and instantly launches apps into split-screen mode when you drag them to the side of the screen.

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Drag and Drop apps right into split-screen view
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You can also drag and drop photos and hyperlinks across split-screen apps

You can also transport items across a halved screen: text, photos, hyperlinks and files. This – not the iMac Pro – is Apple's answer to a touchscreen computer.

iOS 11 makes the iPad feel closer to a laptop than merely a super-sized iPhone, and it's something that no Android tablet, not even the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, offers today.

Drag and Drop for iPhone may be a possibility in the future, but according to beta testers, it's currently disabled in the ongoing developer beta.

iOS 11 release date

Now that all of the iOS 11 news is out there – and before we get to the rest of the changes – let's stop to tell you when the iOS 11 release date happens.

iOS 11 will launch this autumn, according to Apple at its WWDC keynote. Developers enrolled in Apple’s developer program can download iOS 11 now, at least in its early form.

Not a paying developer, but still want to test out iOS 11? You'll be able to try it out in the iOS 11 public beta that begins at the end of June, which means it'll be ready any day now.

iOS 11 features hint at iPhone 8 AR

iOS 11 gives Apple the largest AR platform in the world – overnight, thanks to so many iPhones and iPads out there. It's an instant boon for augmented reality fans and developers alike.

That's why the developer-focused Apple ARKit is a big deal for everyone, not just app makers. It hints at the biggest features to come from the iPhone 8 three months from now. Get ready for a futuristic life in augmented reality.

What is Apple ARKit on iOS 11 exactly? Developers will be able to place virtual objects into the real world using your iPhone or iPad and its camera. 

It's like a really advanced version of Pokemon Go, but with many more possibilities.

The table has nothing on it. But on the iPad, it's an interactive world

In fact, Pokemon was one of several AR demos Apple showed off. But we were even more impressed with what Peter Jackson's studio Wingut AR demoed.

Its complex AR showcase involved a battle between an outpost and spaceships, and it all happen on an otherwise peaceful, empty living room table.

Speaking of tablets, Ikea is reportedly a launch partner for the iOS 11 AR feature, letting you place imaginary furniture in rooms down to the millimeter. 

Apple just created a new playground for million of existing devices and put the Microsoft Hololens and Google Tango on notice.

iOS 11 puts Apple Pencil to the test

Apple Pencil is a great little tool for the iPad Pro series, but our one complaint in our iPad Pro 9.7 review was that you can't use it everywhere you'd like to in apps.

That all changes with iOS 11. Instant Markup lets you draw on PDFs and photos and Instant Notes lets you jot things down ASAP – right from the lockscreen.

All of your Instant Notes on the lockscreen are saved in Notes, so don't worry. And drawing on Notes near existing text cleverly now moves the text out of the way.

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Take notes, even from the lock screen. It saves in Notes, don't worry.
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You can markup with the Apple Pencil right from PDFs and images
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Text, move out of the way. I'm drawing here!
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Scan and sign documents without the need for a multi-function printer

Document Scanner in Notes defeats the need to painstakingly scan important documents that you need to sign. 

It scans, crops edges, removes tilt and glare and lets you fill in the blanks or sign away with an Apple Pencil.

New iPad keyboard shortcuts 

Apple is making a big productivity push with the iPad Pro 10.5-inch, and iOS 11 is doing its part with tweaked keyboard shortcuts.

You won't have to switch to the second keyboard layer anymore

It combines letter keys with numbers, symbols and punctuation marks (normally reserved on the second keyboard layer) and accessed by a new flicking gesture.

Flicking these secondary numbers and symbols downward is easier than having to switch back and forth between the two layers. We really like this iOS 11 feature and kind of wish it were coming to the iPhone 7 Plus, too.

Apple Files opens up your many clouds

Apple is debuting a new Files app in iOS 11 that lets you sort through all of your files. Your can browse, search and organize them all in one place.

Apple Files not only has recent files from your iPad, but on other iOS devices, in iCloud Drive and from other services, including Box, Google Drive and Dropbox.

It's just one more way Apple is trying to make the iPad Pro a de facto computer for people who don't need a MacBook 2017 or iMac Pro.

iMessages won't take up your storage anymore

iOS 11 is making iMessages even better than it already is with seamless iCloud syncing across your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

That means two things. First, when you delete a conversation bubble on an iPad, it'll also disappear on your iPhone and MacBook Pro. Great.

Second, it frees up all of your iMessage storage, a real problem for rabid texters who have been with Apple since iMessage first launched.

Whether or not you know it, iMessages take up a bunch of space in your iPhone and iPad. It's all of that 'Other' storage in yellow if you ever look in iTunes.

Soon, with iOS 11, you'll be able to back up all of your iMessages to iCloud as they get archived to Apple's secure internet servers. That's a big relief.

Apple Pay payments to friends

Apple Pay is expanding to include person-to-person payment features when you upgrade to iOS 11. It's exactly what Venmo and PayPal do right now, but via an app-free solution.

Apple Pay payments use Touch ID for authentication and iMessages to send between friends or other contacts who owe you money.

With so many contactless payment options on iOS right now, including Gmail and Facebook, there's no reason avoid paying back your friends.

Welcome to the new App Store

We didn't get an iTunes refresh at WWDC 2017, but iOS 11 is giving us a brand new App Store on the iPhone and iPad.

The Today tab leads things off by refreshing its app picks daily and telling stories behind the top apps. The format feels very much like what Apple did in Music last year.

Don't worry, every app will still have a product page, but iOS 11 is putting a lot of focus on the new 'Games' and 'Apps' tabs to spotlight the best in those areas.  

Apple says the new App Store on your mobile devices is 'designed for discovery' and is a way to make app downloading exciting again, like it was nine years ago.

iOS 11 for better lossless audio

It's not confirmed, but it's been hinted that iOS 11 could support lossless audio, all thanks to the new Files app.

Apple's FLAC lossless audio support on iPhones and iPads would finally give us a way to listen to uncompressed without convert everything to its ALAC standard.

It's a small, but meaningful change for Apple's formerly music-driven portable audio player and for its future with AirPlay 2 and the Apple HomePod.

Siri is smarter and sounds different

Siri is getting a more natural-sounding voice with the iOS 11 update, and you're able to pick between female and male voice options.

To make Siri sound like AI from the future, Apple gave it a way to say the same word with different tones. It's not always the same robot-like pronunciation.

Siri is boosting its contextual learning, too, going as far as surfacing different word suggestions after you read a specific news story in Apple News or Safari.

Did you just read a news about Iceland and are starting to type in a word like Reykjavik? Let Siri finish up that forthcoming typo of yours.

Siri is on 375 million devices, and is in more languages and more countries than any other personal assistant. So Apple is taking advantage of that with iOS 11.

It uses deep learning for quick translations like we haven't seen before. Want to order an authentic dish in Chinese? Just have Siri say it for you.

iOS 11 revamps Control Center

iOS 11 gives Control Center a complete overhaul with an all-in-one look to put quick controls at your fingertips – without having to swipe between menus.

Everything is combined now: system controls, app shortcuts and music controls. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen and there they are.

It's a lot different than before, so the design will force you to get used to the new arrangement (you'll probably hate it on day one, love it on day two). Of course, it'll be easier and faster once it becomes second nature.

You'll also be able to disable Control Center in apps. This is helpful for games where swiping up may be a means to control on-screen characters or maps.

Lockscreen and notification center are now one

Lockscreen notifications and notification center are joining forces in iOS 11, and that makes it easier to see which older alerts you've missed.

Swiping up on the normal lockscreen will display notifications from earlier in the day, essentially giving you access to notification center from the lockscreen. 

Meanwhile, the usual notification center gesture (swipe down from the top of your iPhone) brings up the new lockscreen/notification center menu.

New camera modes and photo storage

The iOS 11 camera app debuts new modes that further chip away at the need to always bring a high-end DSLR with you. It's that advanced.

Apple's Live Photos take on Instagram's Loop app with its own Loop and Bounce  options. Either play them in a loop or have them rock back and forth endlessly.

Long exposures are going to let you capture still photos with proper motion blur. Think: waterfalls, car traffic tail lights, stars moving across the night sky.

New filters are also coming to iOS 11, with Apple promising that portrait photos will be expressive and skin tones more natural in the end.

It's also changing the way we store videos and photos with new standards, HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (the High Efficiency Video Codec).

The good news here is that these next-generation compression technologies won't take up nearly as much storage – and you'll never even notice.

Driving without distraction thanks to iOS 11

You shouldn't be driving and texting anyway, but Apple is literally driving that point home with a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature in iOS 11.

It'll shut off notifications just like Do Not Disturb, but do so automatically if you are behind the wheel. Apple concedes not everyone has Apple CarPlay just yet, which it argues is a safer, hands-free solution. But this feature allows you to drive safely without it. It will even shoot a text over to those who try to contact you with a message saying that you will get back to them shortly. 

What if you're just a law-abiding passenger? It's easy to confirm that, so you can continue to ignore the driver by looking at important cat GIFs on your iPhone.

What if you really need to get in contact with someone? You can enter the word "urgent" to break through the Do No Disturb feature.

Apple Maps goes indoors, adds lane assist

One less distraction comes with Maps, which is getter smarter on the road and even indoors as of the iOS 11 update.

Lane assist and speed limits are coming to Apple Maps, which is handy for safe driving in all ways. Maps has come a long way since its disastrous inception.

And while Apple isn't done improving Apps outdoors, it's going indoors, too with detailed maps of hundreds of airports and malls around the world. 

This is the future: finding out which restaurants are past security at LAX or which stores are on level three of the multi-story mall is possible with iOS 11.

Your music just got better with iOS 11

Apple is expanding its already leading presence in Smart Home control with new iOS 11 multi-speaker controls and further tweaking the Apple Music design.

This is great news ahead of the Apple HomePod launch.

AirPlay 2 will let you control your several speakers throughout your house with a new Apple Home menu. Everything can be in sync on all of your home speakers

Apple Music is getting equally exciting changes. You'll be able to amass better playlists by consulting with your friends – without ever having to ask them thanks to shared playlists, albums and stations.

Siri is getting in on music curation, too, with Apple promising that as of iOS 11, its virtual assistant knows sounds you love and can answer band trivia.

More iOS 11 features to come

The official iOS 11 release date is still three months away, but developers are sure to discover new features in between now and then. 

You may be able to unearth additional features from the public beta in July. Whenever that happens, you'll find it right here on your iOS 11 guide.

You'll also find our thoughts on the new iPad Pro 10.5, Apple HomePod and iMac Pro right from the WWDC show floor, and our iPhone 8 rumors round-up.