iOS 11 public beta: The 10 best features you won't be able to live without

Apple released the first public beta of iOS 11 this week. Here are the best features that came with it.

ios 11 control center iphone
Credit: Apple
Ready to take it up to 11?

If you’re enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program, you can now take iOS 11 out for a test drive. We’ve been trying out the new software release on our iPhone and iPad Pro for the last few days, and here are the best features we already can’t live without.

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Credit: IDG
Siri's new tricks

Siri is one of those features that keeps getting better with each software upgrade, and iOS 11 is no exception. This time, Siri gets a new voice, plus a super-helpful visual interface that lets you even edit your voice request with text input. And now, Siri is able to translate phrases for you—it can process English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Apple said that it will add more languages in the months to come.

ios 11 control center
Credit: IDG
Customizable Control Center

Currently, Control Center in iOS 10 takes up two panels, so you have to navigate to the second panel to access volume controls. However, iOS 11 brings everything back to a single screen and relies more on 3D Touch. Not only that, but you can also customize which controls you’d like to have on there. You can add new controls to quickly access your Wallet, turn on Low Power Mode, and even start Screen Recording—an all-new feature for iOS.

ios 11 live photos effects
Credit: IDG
New Live Photo effects

Apple has given us more reasons to want to take Live Photos, those GIF-like moving images. In iOS 11, you can add effects to your Live Photos after you take them. Find a Live Photo on your camera roll and then swipe up. You will be able to add a looping effect to your photo or make it “bounce” back-and-forth, similar to an Instagram Boomerang. You can also make it a long exposure shot for better photos of low-lit scenarios.

ios 11 ipad drag and drop
Credit: IDG
Drag-and-drop on iPad

iOS 11 makes for better multitasking on iPad. Now you can drag-and-drop images, links, and files between apps that are open side-by-side, either in Split View or Side Bar mode. In fact, you can drag-and-drop an app from Dock onto Side Bar mode, and drag that secondary app from the right to the left side of the screen.

ios 11 screenshot markup
Credit: IDG
Markup your screenshots

Everytime you take a screenshot in iOS 11, it will automatically remain floating on the lower left. You can swipe it offscreen to save it to your camera roll as per usual, or you can tap on it to go into Markup. So now, you can add handwritten notes or comments either with your finger or with your Apple Pencil if you’re using an iPad Pro.

ios 11 apple music profiles
Credit: IDG
Social profiles in Apple Music

Apple Music gets social in iOS 11. Taking a page from Spotify, Apple Music members now have a profile on the streaming app. You can use your profile page to showcase your favorite playlists, as well as the albums you’ve recently listened to. You can also follow friends on Apple Music, and their profile photo will show up next to the albums they’ve listened to. However, there is currently no way to listen to music on private or secret mode, so be ready for your Apple Music followers to get a glimpse at all your guilty pleasures.

ios 11 do not disturb while driving
Credit: IDG
Do Not Disturb While Driving

This feature could be a real life-saver. iOS 11 also introduces “Do Not Disturb While Driving” so that the screen goes totally dark when you’re on the road. You can activate this mode manually via Control Center or have it turn on automatically whenever you’re connected to CarPlay or a car’s Bluetooth. In addition, you can go into your Do Not Disturb Settings to setup an automatic response to all your incoming texts to alert people that you’re driving and will get back to them as soon as you arrive.

ios 11 document scanner in notes
Credit: IDG
Document scanner in Notes

There’s no reason to run to the office scanner anymore, thanks to iOS 11. Using the Notes app you can now press the plus (+) sign to access an all-new document scanner. You can scan several documents at once and apply different filters. The scans can be saved inside your Notes, and you can also export them as PDF files that are Markup-friendly, so you can add your signature and send it back.

ios 11 search handwritten notes
Credit: IDG
Search for handwritten Notes

Another cool feature that iOS 11 brings to Notes is the ability to search for things you’ve written our by hand. If you prefer to take notes using your finger or your Apple Pencil on iPad Pro, they are now searchable. 

ios 11 keyboard
Credit: IDG
QuickType keyboard improvements

iOS 11 also makes significant improvements to the software keyboard. On iPhone, you can press-down on the globe icon and choose one-handed mode. This will bring all the keys closer to either the left or right side of the screen to make it easier to type with one hand. You can also make one-handed mode your default keyboard by going into Settings. For iPad, you can now type numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks without switching to a secondary keyboard. Simply flick down on the key to insert the character you need. 

emoji shrug ios
Credit: Apple
What we're still waiting for

Apple previewed a lot of new features for iOS 11, but not all of them are yet available in the first public beta. Here’s a quick look at what’s to come.

1. Apple Pay’s iMessage app for sending or receiving cash within Messages

2. Dropbox integration in the Files app

3. Apps built with ARKit to launch more robust augmented reality experiences