iPhone 4S
An iPhone 4S. Image obtained with thanks from Matthew Pearce on Flickr.

With the iPhone 8 finally out, iOS 11 is here, sporting exciting new features for both the iPhone and the iPad. The update, which MacWorld calls Apple’s most impressive upgrade in years, brings dynamic augmented reality capability to apps and games. It also features improvements to notifications, messages, Siri and file management, along with a redesigned Control Center and App Store, plus screen recording capability. Here’s an overview of some of the noteworthy new features of Apple’s latest operating system upgrade.

Augmented Reality Support

The most striking new feature of iOS 11 is support for augmented reality applications. AR apps for iOS 11 are empowered by ARKit, a new framework that lets developers create iPhone and iPad augmented reality apps. ARKit apps employ TrueDepth camera, which can detect 3D characteristics of live images, and Visual Inertial Odometry, which can track motion against real-world backgrounds.

Through these technologies, iOS 11 apps can combine digital objects and information with physical environments, creating unique experiences that add value for users. For instance, the World Brush app lets you create art by moving around and drawing over what you see on your camera screen. Many AR apps are already available in the App Store, and the number will grow rapidly as more developers and users get involved with iOS 11.

Animated Emoji

A flagship AR application of iOS 11 is animated emoji or Animoji. Animoji is a new feature in iMessage that can use the phone’s sensors to capture your facial image and movements and create a matching animated emoji. The resulting emoji mimics your facial expression and movements, adding a personalized touch to your messages.

Lock Screen Changes

Another major AR application of iOS 11 is Face ID, which allows users to use facial recognition to unlock their screens, replacing Touch ID. Face ID uses the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera system to take infrared images of your face from multiple angles, registering your face with your phone. Once your face is registered, you can unlock your phone simply by looking at your device. Face ID also serves to authenticate Apple Pay transactions.

Another lock screen change is that your lock screen is now combined with your phone’s Notification Center. This enables you to see your notifications directly on the lock screen. You can display or hide notifications by scrolling up or down.

Control Center Updates

One of the big changes in the new iOS update is a redesigned Control Center. The old multi-pane system has been replaced with a central display. You can now customize your Control Center by using your Settings app, which allows additional settings to be shown. You can access more options by using 3D Touch, with sliders to adjust volume and brightness. You also access additional options for some menus by tapping and holding.

Camera Improvements

The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X have cutting-edge cameras that can compete with any smartphone in the industry, such as a 12MP camera with 4K video plus a 7MP FaceTime HD camera on the iPhone 8, and iOS 11 includes features designed to take advantage of this capability. Innovative compression technology enables files to be stored with the same quality at half the size, freeing up space for more pictures. New settings and filters enable more expressive photos with more natural skin tones. In conjunction with dual cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus and X, iOS 11 can analyze depth information to create professional portrait lighting effects.

Other New Features

In addition to these highlighted features, iOS 11 also includes numerous other updates. Messages is now synchronized with iCloud for better integration across iOS and macOS devices, and will soon support person-to-person Apple Pay payments. Siri has a new, more natural voice, along with machine learning capability to adapt to user habits, and can translate between select languages, including English, Chinese, German, Spanish, French and Italian. A new Files app facilitates direct access to local and cloud files. Control Center now lets you record your screen. The App Store has a streamlined, cleaner design, with an increased focus on daily highlights and other editorial content. These are just some of the many new features included with iOS 11 for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X.