What to Expect From iOS 11

Google gave users a taste of its O-themed dessert at Google I/O last week, and while it's not a revolutionary update, it makes incremental improvements in the right direction. Be it Project Treble or Android Go or the fact that graphics drivers can be updated from Play Store, the new foundational blocks will go a long way towards addressing Android's longstanding fragmentation concerns. Where it has also changed for the better is in handling notifications (with capabilities for snoozing them and adding a notification badge to app icons), auto-fill (now works with apps too) and contextual text selection.

Furthermore, it appears to be switching gears by going from "mobile first to AI first" to improve on-device learning (as part of its broader Federated Learning efforts), going as far as unveiling an AI-optimised chip (called Tensor Processing Unit) that could very well make its way to future Pixel smartphones. At the front and center of this new initiative is Google Assistant, "your own personal Google," a smart assistant that can be accessed in a myriad of ways ranging from Android smartphones, iPhones, Allo, Google Home, Android Wear, Android TV and even from your cars. It's also Google's answer to chatbots, a way to access to your favourite third-party services without even having to install their apps.

Why is Control Center so clumsily designed and split across several panes?

All of this brings me to a very simple question - What's Apple planning with iOS 11? Aside from dropping support for 32-bit apps, will there be a design refresh? Will there be exciting new feature additions? Will iPads finally shed their 'oversized iPhone' tag with new productivity features that take advantage of the extra screen real estate? Here are some of them I want to see, a list unfortunately not so different from the one I prepared last year -
  • Customizable Control Center, system-wide dark mode, textual support for Siri, gesture typing on keyboard, a Google-like approach to first-party app updates (as opposed to issuing OS updates), a full-fledged file manageriMessage/Apple Music/Apple News for Android/Web  are all features I mentioned I wanted in iOS 10 and yet here I am, asking for the same in iOS 11.
  • Set default apps - Apple finally caved in and gave us the ability to hide built-in apps with iOS 10, but did so without adding capabilities to set default apps, thus defeating the very purpose of hiding them.
  • Lock individual apps with Touch ID - While not a deal breaker, a feature to lock individual first-party apps like Photos could be a useful add-on.
  • Move volume controls to the top - Increasing or decreasing the volume on iOS triggers a giant volume control slider that sits in the middle of the screen. Although it offers a usability benefit, it's also obtrusive.
  • Support for offline Maps - Now that Apple Maps is here to stay, adding offline maps is the next sensible thing to do.
  • Fix the mess that's Notification Center - If you are a person who receives hundreds of messages, likes and comments on social media, you know what I am talking about. The lack of an option to group notifications by app not only makes it unmanageable, but also results in an experience that's messy at best.
  • Improved cache management - I get that Apple wants to keep iOS devices simple and user-friendly, but that means no advanced options to get rid of unwanted junk files and temporary data clogging up your iPhone (or iPad). A setting like "Clear Cache" for every app, like in Android, can come in handy to mitigate the issue.

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