In 2017, Apple launched the 10.5-inch iPad Pro alongside the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. These tablets come with some significant hardware improvements. The biggest changes, however, are on the software side, courtesy of iOS 11.
First introduced in June 2017, iOS 11 is the first version of iOS in history that’s mostly iPad-centric. Better still, most of the new iOS 11 features work across all iPad versions, not just the Pro models.
Let’s take a look at the new features and why they’re important.
Is Your iPad Compatible?
The iOS 11 update is compatible with most iPads but not all of them. Supported models include: 12.9-inch, 10.5-inch and 9.7 inch models of iPad Pro, and the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 5th generation, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 2.
Unfortunately the original iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, and the first generation iPad mini are not compatible with the iOS 11 update.
iOS 11: 11 Features Worth Knowing About
When Apple first announced iOS 11, it put a lot of emphasis on how important the software update was for iPad Pro and business users. While this is true, most of the new iOS 11 features benefit all types of users as you will see below.
1. A New Dock
To the casual observer, the Home screen on iPad with iOS 11 looks similar to previous versions. Looking deeper, however, and you’ll notice the macOS-style Dock at the bottom of the device. From here, you can add up to 13 of your favorite apps instead of only five.
To the right of these favorites, you’ll see icons for three additional apps. Apple calls these “intelligently suggested apps,” such as ones you recently used on your iPad or another Apple device, such as your Mac or iPhone.
The new Dock isn’t just available from the Home screen. With an upward swipe, it’s now available on any screen.
Why is this important? Multitasking has never been an iPad strong suit. The new Dock changes this significantly.
2. App Switcher and Control Center
Apple has finally added some value to the App Switcher in iOS 11. Gone are the bloated screenshots showing open apps that you needed to go back and forth to find. Instead, the App Switcher screen now includes small screenshots at the top left of the device display. Move your finger left-to-right to show more. To close an app, just flick its screenshot to the top.
On the right side of this screen, you’ll now find the Control Center. Here you’ll find quick links for the camera, flashlight, timer, and more.
Don’t like how it looks by default? Go into the Settings app under Control Center > Customized Controls to change the look to suit your tasks.
You can bring up the App Switcher by double-clicking the Home button or by flick your finger from bottom to top on the Home screen.
3. More Multitasking
Another valuable multi tasking tool in iOS 11 has to do with being able to open a second app right from the Dock. In doing so, both apps remain active in Slide Over as well as Split View.
4. All of Your Files in One Place
The new Files app in iOS brings together all of your documents and photos, even those not hosted by Apple’s iCloud. From this location, you can find files from Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and more. A light tap on the Files app icon will give you an instant preview of your most recently opened files.
The Files app is the closest thing Apple has included on iPad so far that looks and feels like it was created for macOS. Could other Mac-like features arrive in future iOS updates?
5. Drag and Drop
With Drag and Drop in iOS 11, you can quickly move text, photos, and files from one app to another. In turn, this makes it easier to share information with friends, family, and coworkers.
For example, use Drag and Drop to move Photos from your last vacation to email, send your career-changing Keynote presentation to Messages, or share a Maps location to someone. Expect this feature to get even better as third party developers update their apps to take advantage of it.
6. Record Most of It
There have always been third-party solutions to help you record your iOS device screen for professional or personal use. In iOS 11, there’s now a native solution.
To record your screen, just click on the recording button from Control Center. When complete, click on the thin red bar at the top of your screen and follow the directions to stop recording. You can edit these clips on your iOS device or Mac just like you would with other recordings.
Pro Tip: If the recording icon isn’t showing up under Control Center, you’ll need to add it. To do so, visit Control Center > Customized Controls from the Settings app. From there, make sure to add “Screen Recording” to the Include section.
Planning to record your favorite Disney movie from the TV app to share with your friends? It’s not going to happen. The recording functionality won’t work when attempting to record copyrighted material.
7. Passwords Made Easier
Maintaining passwords has never been sexy, although it’s getting a little bit easier thanks to the built-in iOS 11 password manager. The tool collects your account details for apps and websites.
You’ll see the password manager popup when a login box appears. By clicking on the small key prompt, you’ll see all of your passwords that you’ve collected across multiple Apple devices.
The password manager is protected by your device passcode or Touch ID when enabled.
8. Mark It
Marking up a document with Apple Pencil has never been easier thanks to iOS 11. The new feature, Instant Markup, is exclusive to iPad Pro. Simply pick up your Apple Pencil, touch it to your iPad screen, and start writing. Yes, it’s that simple.
Similar to Instant Markup is the new Instant Notes feature in iOS 11. Here, you tap on your iPad Pro’s lock screen with your Apple Pencil to get started. Whatever you create will automatically save as new Notes document.
9. Inline Drawing
Speaking of Notes, when you begin to draw or jot down in the app, the text around it can automatically move aside. You can also add inline drawings in the Mail app.
Better still, handwritten Notes are now searchable via your iOS device in both English and Chinese, with more languages coming soon.
10. Signing Documents
Another new drawing feature in iOS 11 is decidedly more professional. With the new Document Scanner in Notes, iOS 11 automatically senses and scans a document. In doing so, it crops the edges and removes the tilt or glare too.
From there, you can fill in the blanks or sign it with Apple Pencil, save it, and send it to others.
11. Indoor Maps
Now that Maps has conquered the roads, it’s turning its attention indoors. In iOS 11, you’ll now find Maps for places like malls and airports. This could be a really handy feature for the iPad-dependent frequent flyer.
Whether you’re looking for your favorite store or need a caffeine fix, Maps makes it easier to find where you’re going.
Not Just for iPad
Apple is often accused of neglecting iPad. The release of two new iPad Pros and the iPad-centric iOS 11 suggests this is no longer the case. Today’s iPads are more powerful than ever before on both the hardware and software side.
Which iOS 11 features do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below.