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Rating the iOS 11 Updates

Your iPhone is getting a refresh this fall

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

By Alyssa Bereznak and Molly McHugh

The Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference, which kicked off Monday, was one of those “in-between events” — the kind without a new iPhone. But the Apple product that most of us truly rely on — iOS — did receive a handful of updates. While there was nothing life-changing about the upcoming iOS 11 (which will hit iPhones and iPads this fall), the features are still worth mentioning … if even just to let you know that whenever you get around to updating your iPhone in a few months (or longer), these new tricks will be packed somewhere in there.

Siri Translation

Rating: I Want That

McHugh: Real-time translation has always been one of the most highly sought-after Siri use cases. The smartphone, in many ways, has transformed international travel, but having the ability to translate to a handful of languages in the moment is a game-changer.

(Via Apple)
(Via Apple)

Storage Savers

Rating: YES

McHugh: The biggest complaint that many of us have about the iPhone (or our smartphones in general) is the constant search for more storage space. (Who among us has not desperately deleted a handful of old screenshots or podcast episodes so that we can regain use of the camera?) Apple has a few updates that should help free up some storage with iOS 11: Messages and iCloud syncing will help save space, as will a couple of photo and video capture improvements that will compress image size without losing (significant) quality.

Redesigned Control Center

Rating: Sure, Why Not

Bereznak: I always welcome updates to the control center, otherwise known as that set of frosted rectangular boxes that appear when you swipe up on your iPhone. Without this quickly accessible shortcut to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and airplane mode, we’d be spending an unnecessary amount of time swiping through our phones for the Settings app.

(Via Apple)
(Via Apple)

Now Apple has redesigned it to fit on one page so that it resembles a virtual pillbox. The setting buttons were strategically chopped up and regrouped to fit both your most basic controls and your current audio information onto one screen. (You previously had to swipe to another control center screen to see what was playing on your phone — exhausting.) The update also allows you to control the brightness and the volume of your phone by moving your finger up and down two new nifty little columns on the right, something that’s a little bit more intuitive than the current control screen. You can even “3D Touch” individual bubbles to pop open shortcuts to more helpful features, which if nothing else, is a weird sentence to write.

(Alyssa Bereznak)
(Alyssa Bereznak)

The whole thing is not necessarily groundbreaking, but I’m sure it’ll mean less riffling through my disorganized app folders. And if Craig “the Gray Fox” Federighi is into it, so am I.

New Live Photo Editing Features

Rating: Sorta Fun

McHugh: Live Photos are fun, but a huge storage suck — overall, they aren’t a huge selling point for the iPhone. But a few updates have made it arguably more fun: You can now edit the images, as well as apply effects like long exposure, looping, and rewind.

Apple Maps in Malls and Airports

Rating: Nice Try

Bereznak: Apple has trailed behind Google Maps in terms of accuracy and features for years, and the company’s latest announcements are no exception. Sure, it’s cool that Apple can tell us how to get to Auntie Anne’s at the mall, but Google has been filling in that data since way back in 2011. This is a whole lot of catch-up.

(Via Apple)
(Via Apple)

Apple Pay Your Friends

Rating: Venmo?

McHugh: Apple’s rumored Venmo competitor was announced today, and it is not … really a Venmo competitor. The new feature allows you to pay friends, so long as they have an iPhone. Sure, it’s helpful, but less useful than an app that works across various platforms and that your friends already have.

An earlier version of this piece incorrectly suggested that WWDC normally includes iPhone announcements.