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iOS 11 brings the third major iteration of Apple’s shortcut feature known as Control Center. We first saw it appear with iOS 7, and it was refreshed just last year.
In iOS 11, Apple is going back to single page design for the Control Center, based on expandable widgets and customizable controls. That means that things that were muscle memory for the past couple of years are in a completely different place.
New Expandable Widgets
The new Control Center is built on the concept of widgets and controls. Widgets are expandable and they reveal more options (e.g. the Music widget). Controls are specific actions that show up as single buttons. You can long press or 3D Touch them to show contextual options (e.g. Flashlight).
The Toggles Widget
The first thing you’ll notice in the new Control Center is that the strip of toggles at the top that we were familiar with since iOS 11 have been converted into a widget.
In the top left, you’ll find four toggles: Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Cellular. Tap on a toggle and you’ll be able to turn the feature on or off.
Try to 3D Touch or long press on the widget itself and it will expand.
And it’s here where you’ll find the AirDrop feature. Tap on it and you’ll be able to change AirDrop receiving from off to contacts only or for everyone.
The last toggle is a new one for iOS 11: Personal Hotspot. Tap on it to quickly enable tethering feature.
The Music Widget
In the top-right, you’ll find the Music widget. You’ll see a short rotating description of what’s playing. And there are buttons for play/pause, previous and next.
3D Touch the widget and you’ll enter the expanded mode. Here you’ll be able to seek the track and change the volume as well.
On the top, right next to the title, you’ll find the new AirPlay icon. Tap on it to see a list of all available audio outputs. Tap on another output to switch to it.
If you frequently switch between outputs — from iPhone speakers to AirPods to Apple TV — tapping thrice to get here can be a bit tedious, so Apple has added a hidden shortcut to quickly open the AirPlay menu from the Control Center.
When you first swipe on the Control Center, you’ll see that the radar icon in the top-right corner of the Music widget animates a bit. Tap on it to directly jump to the AirPlay menu.
The Home Widget
In iOS 10, the HomeKit accessories got a whole panel to themselves. In iOS 11, it shows up as a control (button). Tap on the Home control to expand it. Here, you’ll see the all the available toggles for all your favorite devices.
Sliders for Brightness and Volume
The brightness and volume sliders have been redesigned. Instead of tiny horizontal sliders, they’re now big, chunky and vertical. They might look weird but they’re surprisingly easy to use (sometimes way too easy, resulting in accidentally swipes).
Just swipe your finger over the slider and you’ll change the brightness or the volume.
3D Touch on a slider to make it full screen. You’ll now get more precision control. Also, when you 3D Touch the brightness slider, you’ll find that Night Shift toggle is hiding just below the slider.
Right next to the slider, you’ll find the toggles for Do Not Disturb mode, portrait orientation lock and the Screen Mirroring feature.
Everything Below Is Customizable
You’ll find the four toggles at the bottom that you’re used to – Flashlight, Timer, Calculator, and Camera. 3D Touch on a control brings up contextual options.
This is the customizable territory. Not only can you remove the four toggles above, you can actually add more controls here. Some of them will bring brand new functionality like a fully fledged Apple TV remote and a native screen recording feature.
Let’s enable some extra controls.
- Open the Settings app and select Control Center.
- Tap Customize Controls.
- You’ll now see a list of enabled and available toggles. If you’ve ever customized Today View widgets, you’ll be familiar with this UI.
- Find a control you want to add to Control Center and tap on the green + button next to the name.
Here are some of the controls you should consider enabling:
- Low Power Mode: You can’t say no to a quick toggle for getting a little bit extra out of the iPhone battery.
- Magnifier: A shortcut to directly enable Magnifier mode for the camera.
- Notes: Quickly create a new checklist or a new note from Control Center.
- Screen Recording: A new feature for recording anything that’s on the screen (along with the audio). Videos are automatically saved in the Photos app.
- Apple TV Remote: A fully functional Apple TV remote (along with the Siri voice search) right in the Control Center).
- Voice Memos: Quickly record a new voice memo.
Where’s Control Center on the iPad?
On the iPad, swiping up from the bottom of the screen in iOS 11 reveals the new Dock. The Control Center is still there, it’s just integrated into the new App Switcher.
You’ll need to keep swiping up till you reach the middle of the screen. Here, in the right corner, you’ll find the new Control Center. Everything here is exactly the same as the iPhone, down to the two column layout and the customizable controls.
Did you end up adding any new controls to the bottom of the Control Center? What does your Control Center look like? Share with us in the comments below.