I just downloaded the iOS 11 Public Beta on my iPad. Since its announcement at WWDC (Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference), I’ve been very excited about iOS 11. Often times, my 9.7-inch iPad Pro is my go-to for lightweight computing on the go, so an update that makes my iPad even more productive is more than welcome.
While this post isn’t a guide to everything new in iOS 11, here are a few of the first impressions I had while poking around the new OS.
Files is an app new to iOS that mirrors some of the functionality of Finder. It allows users to “browse, search, and organize all your files in one place”. This app has been something iPad power users have been begging for, especially since the release of the iPad Pro line. While you might find the most use out of this app with files on your device locally or in iCloud Drive, Files ties in with their-party services as well to unify the file management experience. I’m excited to see exactly how Files in iOS will coordinate with Finder in iOS as I work on the same files between platforms.
The Dock is my favorite update in iOS 11 so far. The new Dock behaves much more like the Dock in macOS. It’s available at all times through a simple gesture, it looks much nicer, and the six-app limit is gone. I’ve set up my iPad’s Dock very similar to my Mac’s Dock, which has made it easier than ever to switch between iOS and macOS and still get things done. There’s definitely still limits as to how much I can accomplish on my iPad versus my Mac, but it’s a step closer to Apple’s vision of the iPad Pro as a notebook replacement.
Multitasking has changed again in iOS. Similar to how the updated Dock better reflects its macOS equivalent, multitasking on the iPad in iOS 11 more closely resembles using Mission Control on the Mac. While the means of opening the multitasking view haven’t changed, the interface does look drastically different from previous versions of iOS. It’s also a little harder to close apps in the new view (you can’t just swipe away apps). This came as a slight disappointment since I try to keep background apps to a minimum, but not a deal-breaker.
One of the more controversial changes in iOS 11 is the App Store’s redesign. While Apple has made a few tweaks to the App Store in the past, the general experience of the App Store hasn’t changed much until now. One of the biggest changes is that apps and games are now divided into separate tabs. Another big change is the introduction of the “Today” tab, which Apple is putting in place to be a central hub for discovery of new apps. Prior to getting hands-on experience with the new App Store, I was skeptical that the redesign would improve the experience of searching and browsing for apps, but so far, I like the experience provided. Apple hasn’t started to update the Today view on a daily basis, but from the content currently available in the view, it seems like it has potential.
Another somewhat controversial change coming with iOS 11 is the redesign to Control Center. The design of Control Center is no longer panel-based, but rather exists as a series of widgets in the multitasking view. The layout is a little weird at first, but more efficient than the old organization. All elements are available up front, so there’s no need to flip through panels to find the controls you need. On top of this, you can now customize which controls are shown in Control Center, allowing users to keep controls they want. This has been a welcome change, since I rarely use certain controls offered by Control Center.