Siri in iOS 11 has learned to sound like an actual human—and that’s just the beginning when it comes to the new mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and friends gave us a full overview of iOS 11 during Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote. New features include sweeping new upgrades to Siri, a redesigned Control Center and App Store, and a brand-new Apple Pay feature that lets you send or receive money to your contacts via iMessage.
In addition, developers can now create apps that tap into your iOS device’s potential to create augmented reality experiences via the new ARKit. Plus, there are new productivity features for the iPad, including drag-and-drop capability and a more robust dock.
Following a series of developer and public betas, Apple will make iOS 11 available to everyone as a free upgrade later this fall. You’ll be able to install it on your iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, the latest iPad (5th generation, 2017), iPad mini 2 and later, and iPod touch 6th generation. In the meantime, here are the best iOS 11 features and updates showcased during today’s event that we can’t wait to get our hands on.
Siri’s new voice
The first new thing you’ll notice about Siri in iOS 11 is her more-natural sounding voice. However, she also looks a little different: Apple has given its voice assistant a new visual interface that surfaces multiple results for your requests, as well as followup questions. In addition, Siri can now translate phrases for you, from English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. This feature is in beta and will add more languages in the months to come.
Siri has also become more predictive across different iOS apps. For example, if you search for “Iceland” in Safari, Siri will surface Iceland-related articles in the News app and bring up QuickType suggestions in Icelandic. Or, if you get a text message asking for money, Siri will suggest iMessage’s Apple Pay integration with the exact amount that’s been requested. Apple has also expanded SiriKit support to include more robust integrations with third-party services. You can now use Siri to add to your Evernote or pull up a QR code in WeChat, among other things.
Improvements to Messages
In iOS 10, Apple introduced iMessage apps, but the experience of discovering and using them felt a little cluttered. In iOS 11, Apple has redesigned the iMessage App Drawer so that it’s easier for you to find new apps, navigate between apps, and access your go-to’s. Another new feature for Messages is iCloud syncing, so that all your conversations will transfer automatically whenever you sign in to a new iOS device. Even though they’re available on the cloud, your messages will still be protected with end-to-end encryption.
Pay your friends with Apple Pay
You can use Apple Pay at certain brick-and-mortar stores (Apple says 50 percent of U.S. retailers will support Apple Pay by the end of the year), online web stores via Safari, and in certain iPhone apps. With iOS 11, you’ll be able to use Apple Pay to send or receive money from your contacts via Messages, thanks to a new iMessage app which essentially turns Apple Pay into your new Venmo or Square Cash alternative. All the money that you receive will be collected in your Wallet app in the form of a Cash card. You can use these funds to complete other Apple Pay transactions, or you can transfer that cash over to your bank account. Apple Pay’s peer-to-peer transactions will be available in iOS 11 and watchOS 4.