Apple says that iOS 11 is the “biggest software release ever for iPad” and for the most part, they’re right. While iOS 11 doesn’t bring a lot of improvements to iPhones, there are a lot of new features that are exclusive to iPad.

I’ve been using an iPad Pro 10.5 with iOS 11 for a few weeks now and the new update has made the iPad a much-improved experience than previous versions.

Let’s start with the homescreen, it hasn’t been drastically changed, it has gotten a few new features such as The Dock. The redesigned Dock on iPad for allows you to access your favourite apps from anywhere, it’s just a quick swipe up. You can have up to 13 apps or folders on the Dock. On the right side of the Dock, it shows you your three last used apps, so you can easily get back into what you were working on.

There was the occasional time when the Dock wouldn’t come up with a swipe up motion, it would require two or three extra swipes up.

Multitasking in iOS 11 has also been improved, in addition to the ability to have two apps open at the same time in Split View. And if you want to open another app next to what you already have open, you can just drag an app from the Dock and it’ll open up. Drag and Drop is also supported in iOS 11.

So if you’re working between two apps, like one is Google and the other is iMessage, and you need to search up a restaurant your friend messaged you about. You can drag the name over to the Google app to search it up. Or if you need to copy a picture into an email, you can just drag and drop it. For the most part, it does work, but I’ve had a few occasions where it didn’t drag over fully.

The App Switcher has also been given a facelift in iOS 11. It now takes up the whole screen and will show you your open apps and the new Control Center. Once you tap an app in the App Switcher, it’ll automatically bring you back to what you were working on.

The Control Center in iOS 11 is also customizable, which makes it easier to give access to the settings and apps you need most. iOS 11 also allows you to record the screen without being connecting to a computer.

iOS 11 also introduces a new Files app, it will allow you to find and organize files on your iPad and your cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and more. I like the idea of the Files app on the iPad but it’s very restrictive of what it allows you to see/store on your device. It’ll only really let you save files to specific folders that are mainly for GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, Pages. There’s no real option to create your own folders locally.

The Notes app in iOS 11 has gotten some slight improvements with one feature allowing you to use your Apple Pencil and quick start a new note right from the lockscreen. While it does work, for the most part, it sometimes can take a couple of seconds for it to open a new note. I think something like Samsung’s off-screen memo on the Galaxy Note8 is a far better and more useful feature to quickly take a note without unlocking the device.

You can also use the Notes app to scan documents and create handwritten notes using the Apple Pencil. In iOS 11, you can also annotate PDFs or draw on screenshots using the Apple Pencil.

The App Store in iOS 11 has also been given a complete redesign, which features a new Today tab that will tell you about new and exciting apps and some of the stories and teams behind them.

The notifications panel is now just showing the lockscreen, which I don’t understand why Apple would do this. Sure you can see your pretty wallpaper and quickly access the camera and widgets but this is kind of unnecessary change.

Another big feature of iOS 11 is the addition of AR (augemented reality). Essentially, you’ll be able to run augmented reality apps and games using your iOS devices. AR is probably my favourite feature of iOS 11, it’s one that I’ve had the most fun with. From playing mini-golf or shooting hoops to virtually designing a room using the IKEA Place app.

AR apps in iOS 11 works with the following devices:

  • iPhone 6S & 6S Plus
  • iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 8 & 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5, 12.9) 1st and 2nd gen
  • iPad (2017)

Some AR apps and games I’ve enjoyed playing with include:

  • IKEA Place
  • Mammoth Mini-Golf
  • Stack AR
  • AR Basketball

Siri has also been slightly improved with a new voice that it supposed to be more human-like, in terms of naturalness. You’ll get answers from Wikipedia from Siri.

Most of the other new features in iOS 11 are mostly under the hood improvements with things like Core ML, Vision API and Natural Language API.

Overall, iOS 11 seems like an iterative upgrade rather than a vast overhaul. With each new update, there are the occasional bug or two but that’s to be expected. Other than that, using iOS 11 on the iPad Pro 10.5 was a really nice experience, it’s much better than previous versions of iOS running on the iPad.

Pros

  • iOS 11 really shines on the iPad
  • Control Center is much better (and customizable)
  • AR apps are a lot of fun
  • Multitasking is much easier on the iPad
  • App Switcher is more useful

Cons

  • Quick lockscreen notes could be faster
  • iOS 11 still looks the same as previous versions
  • No major design changes besides the Dock for iPad
  • Files app is fairly bare bones

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