The highly anticipated iOS 11 (BETA 2) is now available for public beta testers. Whilst the new iOS is subject to change leading up to its release in September this year, the public can now download and trial the Apple update’s new features. Including a complete new App Store redesign, iOS 11 sees major advances in Siri and Search, notifications controls and app storage management. Whilst we received an overview of what to expect for the new iOS at this year’s WWDC we’ve found 11 hidden features they failed to mention which you need to know about:
1. Power over notifications previews
The new iOS 11 BETA 2 update has given users more power to control notifications. Users can still dictate how alerts appear on the lock screen when receiving a notification on individual apps. However, advanced options such as removing previews or dictating repeat alerts was only possible for native Apple apps.
With iOS 11, third-party apps will now have the same privacy options. Apple have levelled the playing field, with the ability to turn off previews when the phone is locked for all apps. On top of this, they have an option to turn off previews for message from all apps simultaneously. With the power to regulate notification features for their apps, users may be more inclined to opt-in to push, especially if they can configure specific privacy settings in hindsight.
2. Storage problems? Apple has an answer for that
The new iOS offers a fresh view for the iPhone Storage section in settings. Apple will now offer recommendations specific for each individual system and app, focused on freeing up space by relocating large or redundant files. This appears right at the top of the iPhone Storage view and advises users to make use of certain functionalities, ranging from deleting old messages by enabling ‘Auto Delete Old Conversations,’ to syncing up large video files and images to iCloud.
Without available storage, iPhone owners find they can no longer download apps and app updates or update their iOS. So, this is a useful function to help solve an arguably common frustration for iPhone users with lower storage capacity.
3. Users will now know the last time they opened an app
With the new iPhone Storage view in settings, you can also view when individual apps were last used. This will incite a clear-out of apps that users have not accessed for some time, including passes from Wallet. This reiterates the importance of ensuring app owners consider a robust a retention strategy. With such a clear indicator of apps that are dormant on any particular device, ensuring that you have the strategy in place to entice users back into your app regularly is still, if not more-so, vital.
This plays an integral role in the next feature…
4. Apple offers ‘Offloading’ feature for apps
Apple now offers a way for users to ‘offload’ apps. Users can do this manually but there is also a feature in Settings that automates this process. When the phone reaches critical levels of storage capacity, it will automatically remove apps that may not have been used as regularly. This is a feature called “Enable Offload Unused Apps.” This will automatically delete apps, with the most infrequently used apps removed first.
The upside of offloading apps is that users can now remove apps without losing any documents or data associated. Once an app is offloaded, the app icon remains on your home screen with a small download pip indicator. When tapping the download pip, the app will download from the store and saved documents and data will be restored. Users will also be more likely to reconsider redownloading an app as the icon remains in the dock as an indicator of previous use. It can also be redownloaded without having to return to the app store.
However, if a user activates the “Enable Offload Unused Apps” feature, apps will be uninstalled from their device automatically. This only stresses the importance of re-engaging users and ensuring that they return frequently to the app. If not, app owners can find that their apps are subject to force uninstall by this new feature.
5. New Categories icons in the new App Store
The App Store has seen a big makeover in time for the iOS 11 release. As part of this, the new icons for the Categories have also transformed. Prior to the update, the category icons pulled app icons from popular apps. iOS 11 will see Apple using icons resembling emoji icons relevant to each category. In an attempt to widen the avenues of discoverability for Indie developers, this shift could indicate the incentive to level the playing field for app owners within the App Store.
6. Autoplay moves from Safari to the App Store
Another change that will be evident when the new App Store rolls out is autoplay for videos. Autoplay will occur throughout, from App Store videos in listings to the videos available in the curated content for the new Today section.
Whilst Apple announced at WWDC that autoplay would no longer be a feature in Safari, this will not be the case for the short form videos in the App Store. The autoplay feature is another indication that video will play a much larger role for App Store listings after the release. Apple have also announced that listings can now include up to three videos. This is a great way to educate users through a visually dynamic medium about the features of the app to entice download. The autoplay feature will be valuable in this case to ensure users are immediately immersed in the app experience to encourage download.
7. Developers now emerge in app search results
The past year has seen many developments from Apple to ensure that developer qualms are taken into consideration. Earlier this year, Apple transformed iTunes Connect to offer deeper app insights for developers. Alongside this, the App Store redesign is possibly the largest indication of this. We’ve noticed a small feature which enables users to search for developers as well as apps through the app store.
A developer profile will bring up an image card indicative of the brand of app owner. This is followed by a listing of apps owned by the developer. This is a great way to build a brand profile for developers and a new avenue to surface their catalogue of apps for potential users to discover.
8. Siri becomes Siri and Search
As we speculated when we found some interesting changes to the Look Up feature in iOS 10, Apple have modified their search in iOS 11 significantly. iOS 11 BETA 2 shows that Siri has now evolved to Siri and Search, and users can control Look Up and search suggestions in Settings.
This new development has allowed for a more holistic and unified search experience for device users. Apple have moved away from using ‘Spotlight’ in their terminology and have instead replaced it with ‘Siri.’ We hope that this means we can expect better search results when using Siri, especially as Apple has told us to expect a smarter Siri. In iOS 11, Siri can spot interests from news articles to make further recommendations, and much more.
On top of this…
9. You can now type to Siri
As part of developing Siri and its search ability, users can now turn on type to Siri. This is a great accessibility feature, especially for users who have hearing impairments.
Furthermore, recent research shows that Siri was in fact the primary search engine of 13 percent of iPhone owners. This is significantly high percentage and indicates the potentially disruptive impact of voice and virtual assistants on traditional “query in a box” results. We’ve also noticed that Siri now surfaces results from apps that are actionable in concise way. We are intrigued to see what the future of Apple Search entails.
10. Settings search results refined
On the topic of search, results from searches in Settings are much more concise and clean. Searching for a function in settings usually brings up a clutter of results that are difficult to gage. iOS 11 results are much more relevant and clear, simplifying navigation on the device.
11. Change your Apple watch face straight from your iPhone
A minor update that was given a big announcement at WWDC was the new watch face capabilities for the Apple Watch. We noticed a feature that complements this on the iPhone. You can now directly send an image from your Photos library to your Apple Watch and assign it as your watch face, inclusive of a preview mode before confirmation. Apple has made it even easier to customise devices. The ability to do this using the iPhone for the Apple Watch reiterates the frictionless connection between Apple devices.
These are 11 hidden features we noticed when testing iOS 11 Beta 2. We wonder how many of these changes will stick around and are intrigued to see what new alterations Apple decide to release in September when iOS 11 officially launches.
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