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Apple "turns it up to 11" with iOS 11, bringing big improvements to iPhone and iPad

Just under a year ago, Apple unveiled iOS 10, which it called the biggest release of its mobile operating system ever. Today, at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company is "turning it up to 11", with the announcement of iOS 11.

iMessage has a "redesigned app drawer" that makes apps and stickers more discoverable, and it now has iCloud support, which can synchronize all of your messages to all of your iOS devices.

Apple has also added the ability to send direct payments to a contact through iMessage, using Apple Pay authentication on the device.

Siri is getting some big improvements too, partly introduced with the help of machine learning. The assistant will be able to learn more about each user through their devices, including more 'intelligent' suggestions based on the way that you use your device, and your location. Another improvement is the addition of more 'natural sounding' male and female voices.

Apple said that Siri is now used on over 375 million devices, and the company is helping those users to communicate more easily by adding translation support to the assistant.

Siri translation will initially be available in beta for a limited selection of languages, with plans to expand it more languages in the not-too-distant future.

The Photos app was a further major focus of today's iOS 11 announcement. Over a trillion photos per year are taken by iOS users, along with a ton of videos. Apple is introducing HEVC support for videos, promising up to 2x video compression with no loss of quality.

The Photos app is now improved with 'deep learning' capabilities, making Memories more useful by being able to automatically identify groups of photos.

There are new capabilities for Live Photos too, including the ability to easily trim photos, or set a "seamless loop" through the use of "computer vision" technologies. You'll also be able to scrub through a Live Photo to select a single frame than be used as a 'key photo'.

iOS 11 will also bring new software improvements that will improve the quality of low-light photos that are taken in Portrait Mode, which is something that the iPhone 7 Plus has historically struggled with.

Control Center is getting a major redesign with interactive controls for certain apps, like Apple Music. You can 3D Touch some of the modules to bring up more detailed controls, such as an enlarged panel for switching Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity on or off.

From the on-stage demo, it also seems that Control Center and notifications are more closely linked together in the user interface.

There are new Maps capabilities in iOS 11 too. "iOS 10 brought beautiful clarity to navigation," Apple said today, and it's building on that with further enhancements, including indoor navigation for shopping malls...

...and for airport terminals, starting with the selection of airports shown above.

There's a new mode to reduce the distractions experienced by motorists while at the wheel. Do Not Disturb While Driving will use the full suite of on-device sensors to detect when you're in a vehicle that's in motion, and if you activate that mode when prompted, you'll get the following new interface:

No big driver-friendly buttons, no notifications, nothing. Safety first...!

Of course, if you just happen to be in a car with someone else who's driving - or if you enjoy enjoy being distracted while you drive around - you can opt out of the Do Not Disturb While Driving mode.

But if you prefer to remove those distractions, you can enable your device to send an auto-response to those who call or text you while you're on the go.

There are new improvements for iPads in iOS 11 too. "iOS 11 really takes iPad to a whole new level," Apple's Tim Cook said today. "People are going to be able to do more, in more places than ever before."

Among them is an enhanced multitasking experience, along with the ability to swipe up the Dock from anywhere in the OS from the bottom edge of the device, without returning to the home screen. You can also add as many apps as you want to the Dock, making it much easier to switch between apps.

"iOS 11 makes it easier and more intuitive than ever to multitask," Apple says. "You can open a second app right from the Dock, and both apps remain active in Slide Over as well as Split View. You can drag the second app in Slide Over to the left. And you can get back to your favorite App Spaces in the redesigned App Switcher"...

...which you can see above, including the integration of the revised Control Center.

iOS 11 also introduces drag-and-drop support, making it easier to grab content and add it to documents and messages. It even supports multi-touch; for example, you can grab a picture, add to your selection with your other hand, and drop multiple images into an email.

And Apple has added a document scanner to Notes that can quickly grab a snap of a paper document, which can then be easily annotated with Apple Pencil support.

Apple Pencil gets much deeper integration across iOS 11, making it quicker to take new notes, and to add notes and drawings to screenshots and other images across the OS.

A further overview of iOS 11 improvements is shown in the image below:

iOS 11 is available today as a Developer Preview for 64-bit devices, and will be more widely available as a Public Beta by the end of the month. The full public release of iOS 11 is coming this autumn.

You can find out which devices will be eligible to upgrade to iOS 11 here.

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