iOS 11 will not support the iPhone 5 or 5C, nor 32-bit apps. But the new system does have a range of changes that might be genuinely useful.
The 5 and 5c won’t get the new system, a move that while not exactly unexpected, shows the ruthless pace of device upgrades, with the phones getting software updates for less than three years. The fourth generation iPad, which dates back to 2012, is also being dropped from the supported list.
Newer iPads, particularly the Pro models, are arguably the biggest winners from iOS11. It’s adding support for drag-and-drop, an app dock and a file explorer, which greatly increases its appeal as a replacement rather than a complement for a laptop computer.
Another addition to iOS 11 is “Do Not Disturb While Driving”, which can automatically switch on when the phone detects it is in a car, whether that be based on movement or because it’s connected to the car itself via Bluetooth. The feature isn’t mandatory and if you do have it on, you can manually override it with a single tap (for example, if you are a passenger.)
When the mode is active, notifications and alerts are blocked, though you can set specific exceptions. You can also have the phone send an automated reply to callers or messagers to explain that you are driving.
Users of Apple Pay will be able to send money directly to friends (assuming they also have Apple Pay) rather than just retailers. The payment option will be built into iMessage, with a Touch ID fingerprint required for confirmation.
Most of the other changes are minor tweaks that some will find useful: for example, there’ll be a screen recorder; and you’ll be able to use Siri by typing queries when you can’t or don’t want to speak; QR code-recognition will be built directly into the camera app.
As well as unveiling iOS11, Apple also demonstrated HomePod, it’s take on the Google Home/Amazon Echo combo of internet-connected speaker with voice recognition. It’s not clear yet how well the Siri-based features actually work, but those who tried it say the sound quality of the speaker is excellent, though at $350 you’d certainly hope that was the case.
A view of the HomePod from the top. Yep, it looks a little like HAL 9000 when it responds. Creepy.