The 13 most useful new features in iOS 11

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Shutterstock

Apple’s newest operating system for iPhones and iPads, iOS 11, is finally available. The update is packed with features, but only a handful of those features will really change the way you use your iPhone.

Here are 13 of the most useful new features in iOS 11:


1. Live Photos are now much better.

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Apple

Now you can make your live photos into GIFs, which you can make bounce back and forth. Also, you can finally choose which still frame of the Live Photo is the main image, making it easier to find the perfect moment to share on social media.


2. You can now store roughly twice as many photos and videos on your phone.

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Apple

Apple changed the compression format in iOS 11, which means you can store more photos and videos on your phone than you could before – roughly twice as many as you could store in iOS 10. You need to activate this feature though: Just go to your Settings app, select Photos, then select “Optimize iPhone Store.”


3. The App Store got a much-needed face-lift.

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Business Insider

Apple finally brought the design language it established for its other apps like Apple Music and News to the App Store, and the result is super clean, with better, bolder text. The new tabs at the bottom of the app are also an improvement, as I really enjoy the personalized “Today” tab that highlights unique apps, as well as the separate tab just for games, making new or notable ones much easier to find.


4. iMessage is now cleaner-looking and more fun to use.

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Apple

It felt like mayhem when Apple added the app drawer to its Messages app in iOS 10. Suddenly, you could add stickers and GIFs and all sorts of buttons and visuals to your messages, but all the new options weren’t easy to find and were somewhat overwhelming.

Thankfully, Apple redesigned the app drawer in Messages for iOS 11, making it much easier to browse all the various stickers and emojis at your disposal. Now I actually enjoy perusing GIFs and using stickers on my messages.


5. Siri sounds more natural and can translate for you.

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Screenshot

Siri is now more advanced thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence – it doesn’t necessarily make me use Siri any more than I did previously, but at the very least, Siri does in fact sound less robotic and more natural, a bit like Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

Apple also added a cool translation feature for Siri, which is still in beta, where if you ask Siri to say a certain phrase in a different language, like Chinese or Italian, it will speak on your behalf in the desired language.


6. The iPhone keyboard is smarter now.

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Apple

A signature feature of Google Now is finally on iOS: When you type anything in iOS 11, Apple’s built-in keyboard will suggest words you may have recently viewed on your phone – from your Messages app, for example, or Safari. So when your friend texts you the name of a restaurant, it may be one of the first suggestions when you start searching for that restaurant on the web.

Also, one of the best new tricks in iOS 11 is the ability to use Apple’s default keyboard with just one hand. To activate this new mode, just hold the emoji key and select one-handed typing to move all the keys closer to your thumb.


7. Apple finally lets you manage your Control Center.

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Apple

The Control Center was perhaps the most useful feature introduced in iOS 7. By swiping up from the bottom of your screen, you could access a variety of shortcuts and buttons.

Four years later, you can finally choose what those shortcuts are, and where they’re placed… to an extent. You can’t remove a number of default functions like the music player, brightness, or volume, but the functions you can add – a toggle for low-power mode, or your Apple Wallet – you can also switch around and rearrange to your liking. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.


8. Notifications are much simpler now.

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Apple

In iOS 11, all your notifications – both recent and missed – are in one place, with no separate tabs. Just pull down from the top of the screen to see everything at once. This is much better than the previous system, where notifications were kept on a separate screen.


9. There’s a new feature that could actually save your life.

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Apple

Distracted driving is a real, deadly problem. Apple has added a clever feature that triggers Do Not Disturb mode when the iPhone is in the car to hide notifications for texts, calls, and other apps while you’re driving. The feature can even notify people that you’re driving and will contact them soon.

You can choose to activate this feature when you want thanks to a new shortcut available in your Control Center.


10. Apple Maps is much better, indoors and out.

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Apple

Apple added indoor maps for hundreds of airports and shopping centers around the world, making it much easier to navigate your local mall.

And speaking of navigation, Apple also finally added lane guidance to Apple Maps for more precise turn-by-turn directions.


11. If you plan on buying a new iPhone this year, iOS 11 makes setting up a new iPhone or iPad much easier now.

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Apple

If you buy a new iPhone or iPad, you can hold it close to an iOS device you already own to magically import all your settings, preferences and iCloud Keychain passwords. It helps you start using that brand-new device much more quickly than before.


12. The volume box is finally out of your way.

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Twitter

Before iOS 11, changing the volume on your iPhone or iPad would result in a translucent box popping up in the middle of the screen, showing the volume for a few seconds. It was a bit annoying though, so Apple is redesigned the volume box in iOS 11. Now it looks like this:

volume ios 11

Much better.


13. You can now instantly share Wi-Fi passwords.

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Chris Maddern

Now you’ll no longer need to save your Wi-Fi password on a wrinkled piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. In iOS 11, if you need a Wi-Fi password for a given network, just find someone who is already using it and hold your device near theirs to transfer the password instantly.