What Apple Announced at WWDC 2017

Apple had a busy two-and-a-half hour keynote at its Worldwide Developers Conference today, packing in news about refinements to watchOS (new contextual watch faces, among others), macOS (dubbed High Sierra), in addition to unveiling new products such as the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, 27-inch iMac Pro targeting power users and a music focussed smart home speaker called HomePod (for US$ 349). Also announced was the much anticipated update to iOS. While the new version doesn't bring about a full-fledged user interface makeover, it indeed marks a "monumental leap for iPad" and a welcome step in the right direction for the iPhone. Here are some of the most important features that Apple talked about (most of which have the potential to take off despite them arriving late simply because there are a million iDevices already out there) -

Roster of features available in iOS 11
  • Type to Siri accessibility - Apple finally has added capabilities to type to Siri. Hurray!
  • Password autofill for apps - Following Android O's footsteps, iOS 11 makes it easier for users to autofill passwords stored in iCloud Keychain to login to apps.
  • Redesigned App Store, Calculator and Podcasts apps - Apple seems to be embracing the new design it brought with Apple Music, TV, News and Maps last year, and almost all apps have been overhauled with the new bolder design language with iOS 11.
  • QR code support and use phone number as Apple ID - iOS 11 bakes QR code scanner into its camera, and ties phone number to Apple ID keeping Chinese customers in mind (Why? Because WeChat). But is it too late?
  • Redesigned invert colors - There is no explicit mention of a dark mode, nor was it mentioned at the keynote, but this invert colors option could be the answer we have been waiting for. 
  • One-handed keyboard and one-handed zoom in Maps - Single handed use just got more easier.
  • Redesigned Control Center - I don't know how I feel about the new Control Center, but I am happy that all controls are in one place now. What's more, it is also customisable!
  • New Files app - Finally here comes a file manager for iOS with support for third-party cloud services. (Not sure if it will support downloads from Safari though!)
  • Peer-to-peer payment via Apple Pay - iOS 11 brings support for seamless money transfer through Apple Pay in Messages. It however remains to be seen how much of a competition it will be to Google Wallet, Square Cash and Venmo. 
  • Signal strength indicator in iOS 11 goes back from dots to old-style bars.
  • Intelligent Siri - Not only is the voice assistant more smart when it comes to contextual suggestions, it now employs on-device learning to know more about "you" to suggest things that might matter to you across different services. Even more interestingly, the learning is synced across your devices, meaning the Siri you access from your MacBook is the same Siri on your iPhone and your iPad.
  • New app switcher, dock and drag-and-drop capabilities - Productivity features targeting iPads that allow users to easily switch between apps and drag and drop text, files, images and URLs across different apps. The keyboard also gets a QuickType feature that brings letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks all in one single place.
  • Improved Apple Notes with ability to search handwritten notes and scan documents - Seriously, Apple Notes is the most underrated app of all Apple-made apps.
  • Other features - Indoor maps and lane guidance in Apple Maps, Business chat, new video player, WebRTC support, follow users on Apple Music to discover new music, native support for GIFs in Photos, ARKit to build augmented reality experiences in apps, Apple File SystemIntelligent tracking prevention to identify and prevent advertisers from tracking users' online behaviour and always on Reader mode in Safari (on macOS).
  • Features removed - Support for 32-bit apps, native Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo integration, 3D Touch on screen edges to trigger app switcher, Force refresh App Store by tapping 10 times on bottom navigation bar.