Apple announced the upcoming release of iOS 11 at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The latest version of the iPhone and iPad firmware will come with a new Files app, better multitasking, Apple Pencil support, and much more.
Some of the new additions are to the operating system level, while others will affect third-party apps and the way they run on Apple’s smartphones and tablets. Here are some of the key changes developers and testers should be aware of:
Drag and drop
iOS 11 improves multitasking by adding a drag and drop feature. Users will be able to move content inside or between apps, manipulate apps while dragging, and even activate apps while dragging with the help of the new dock system.
Developers and testers will have to be mindful of how drag and drop will interact with their app, and how it works differently on iPhones compared to iPad. For example, drag and drop on iPhone is limited to a single app and does not allow content to be dragged to other apps.
Augmented reality (AR) functionality has been integrated into iOS’s existing game development technologies. This means developers will be able to add AR functionality to games without too much effort, so users will have a new and interesting way of interacting with apps on iPhone and iPad.
PDFs will now be rendered natively within iOS 11, allowing users to easily navigate a PDF document, select and share content, zoom in and out, and more. The addition of this feature means that developers can display PDFs or created own custom PDF readers within their app with hardly any code.
Near Field Communication (NFC) was introduced with iPhone 7 and iOS 10, though developers can now make use of the technology with iOS 11. With the addition of some code, apps will be able to detect and pair up to nearby NFC-enabled devices to send and receive data.
Machine Learning lets computers adapt to new data based on processing rules they have been exposed to in the past. A new machine learning framework called Core ML is introduced in iOS 11, which is used by technologies such as Siri, Camera, and Quick Type to gain a better understanding of the user and their world.
To make effective use of Machine Learning, an algorithm needs to be trained on a variety of data to create a model. Apple will provide several models for developers to get Core ML quickly up and running in their apps.
New in-app ratings
Star ratings will now carry over across updates, so developers will no longer be able ask a user for another review of an app after a rating has already been submitted using Apple's new in-app prompt, even if the app has been significantly updated. Developers will also be able to respond to customer reviews for the first time, while users can also opt out from review requests using the new "In-App Ratings & Reviews" toggle in iOS 11.
iOS 11 comes with a host of other tweaks and changes under the hood that may not be immediately obvious to developers and testers. For example, the Metal 2 developer kit is expected to increase graphics performance on iOS devices, so apps running on frameworks such as Unity will run faster without any additional coding.
Table view cells will now benefit from automatically self-sizing, and it is possible to animate multiple inserts, deletes, and moves in a table. The new heavy black titles from Apple Music are also available across the operating system and within apps.
Facebook and Twitter integration has been removed from iOS 11, so social media credentials will no longer be stored in the device’s settings and cannot be used to log into third party apps. iOS 11 will only work on 64-bit devices, meaning some 32-bit apps will stop working and older 32-bit Apple devices, such as iPhone 5/5c and iPad 4, will not get the update.
Prepare for iOS 11
An official launch date of iOS 11 hasn’t been announced, but iOS 10 was released to the public last year on September 13. It is expected that iOS 11 will likely come out this year around the same time frame with the release of the iPhone 8.
With constant OS updates coming across the various platforms, the challenge for developers is to ensure apps remain compatible, and retain the performance and security standards that users demand. Find out how Planit's Digital QA team can help you ensure compatibility and mitigate the risks associated with these external influences.