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The 9 best iOS 11 features Apple didn’t talk about onstage

The 9 best iOS 11 features Apple didn’t talk about onstage


Type to Siri, QR code support, and more

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The keynote event of Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference clocked in at more than two hours, and it was full of news about what Apple’s doing with macOS, its hardware, and especially iOS 11. But there’s only so much you can cram into two hours when you have to focus on big features like augmented reality or launching a smart speaker.

That’s why one of the best parts of the show is the moment when Apple just says “screw it” and dumps a few dozen new features into one slide. There isn’t a ton of detail beyond the screen that Apple SVP Craig Federighi flashed onstage, but it’s enough to give us an idea of what we’ll be looking forward to in iOS 11.

Type to Siri

Digital assistants are just as frustrating as they are helpful, so making it easier to interact with them is always welcome. It looks like Apple is finally going to add one of the most requested features for any digital assistant — you’ll be able to type to Siri in iOS 11. Socially awkward tech nerds, rejoice!

QR Code support

QR codes aren’t nearly as big in America as they are in other parts of the world, and so Apple has been able to skate by without natively supporting QR codes for a while now. But it looks like the company’s finally changing that by adding QR code support to, likely, the native camera app in iOS 11. Finally — no more bothering with third-party apps once a year when you need to scan a QR code.

One-handed modes

Apple started allowing developers to offer third-party keyboards with iOS 8. Since then, it’s been picking some of the most-loved features available in that marketplace (like stickers and apps) and slowly adding them to iMessage. The newest one coming to iOS 11 is one-handed mode. We obviously haven’t seen exactly how it will work, but expect the feature to squish the keyboard layout to your preferred side, maybe even in an arc.

There’s also a mention of “one-handed zoom in Maps,” which will hopefully make Apple’s mapping app a bit easier to use.

Screen recording

Following in the footsteps of competitors like Samsung, which started allowing screen recording (and GIF creation) on its last few Galaxy phones, Apple appears ready to add that functionality in iOS 11. Here’s hoping Apple will let you capture and create GIFs, too.

Screenshot and markup

This feature got a bit more of a tease during the iPad Pro demo, but it looks like Apple is making it much easier to mark up the things you screenshot on your iOS 11 devices. Instead of dipping back into the camera roll after you take a screenshot, you’ll be able to quickly re-crop and markup the image right away.

Redesigned Podcasts app

Apple is redesigning its entire App Store in iOS 11, so it’s not surprising that it’s going to overhaul the Podcasts app, which is a whole marketplace of its own. Discovery has always been tough on Apple’s own podcast listening app, so this is the company’s chance to get it right.

3D Touch for Safari tab switching

I don’t know about you, but every (rare) time I use Safari on my iPhone I always forget how to access tab switching. Then, after I find it, I wind up stumbling around the interface, trying apply Chrome’s tab behaviors to a different browser. Is iOS 11 going to fix that? Hard to say. But making it easier to swap between tabs — and giving 3D Touch some purpose — is a welcome change.

Other 3D Touch integrations

Speaking of 3D Touch, it appears that Apple is expanding its usage in iOS 11 in other ways, too. It will apparently serve as a shortcut to the “look up” feature, which lets users get a quick set of definitions or related web search results for a highlighted word or phrase. 3D Touch is also getting more integration in iMessage, with apple adding an ability to share URLs with the feature.

Flight status in Spotlight and Safari

Something Siri’s been behind on when compared to Google’s Assistant is knowing when and where you’re going. That will change with iOS 11, which will now grab your flight information and keep it visible (and make it searchable) in a Spotlight widget.

There’s a lot more listed — better non-English language support, improved password management, FaceTime Live Photos — and we’re sure to learn more about iOS 11 in the week ahead. Let us know what you’re looking forward to most in the comments below.