iOS 11: Release date, best features, tips and download

You’re likely more than a little curious about what’s new in Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 11.

Nowadays, Apple releases a beta version of iOS months ahead of its official release. This lets anyone — including you — download a work-in-progress version of the software before the final release. So, we’ve already been playing with iOS and compiling how-tos so you can get started, too. 

iOS 11 will be available September 19, likely around 10 a.m. PT, if Apple follows its usual release schedule. Until then, bookmark this page, add it to your home screen or write it on a sticky note and keep checking back.

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Editors’ note: This post was originally published on June 26, 2017, and continues to be updated with new iOS 11 news and features.

What’s the release date?

September 19. Apple didn’t provide a specific time, but it usually begins to appear on iPhones starting around 10 a.m. PT. 

What are its best new features?

We’re compiling guides for iOS 11’s best features (see list below), but here’s a recap of the most exciting things coming to your iPhone:

  • A new Control Center
  • Siri will sound more natural (and be a little smarter)
  • Screenshots and screen recording
  • Drag-and-drop from app to app
  • Notes is a lot more useful
  • Easily free up storage
  • Venmo-style Apple Pay payments
  • There’s a hidden “dark mode” 
  • Do Not Disturb for driving 
  • A file management system!

How do I download iOS 11?

The final version of iOS 11 isn’t yet available and likely won’t be until mid-September, around September 20, if Apple continues its typical release pattern. Until then, you can test drive the new operating system by downloading the public beta. If at any point you want to downgrade back to iOS 10, you can — with a few catches. 

Want to download the beta? Read this first

Don’t install it on your main device. Right now, the update is still in development, but Apple has released it as a public beta for those who love living on the cutting edge. As tempting as it may be, take our advice and don’t install it on your primary phone. No, really. It can cause all sorts of problems. Here’s more info — our attempt at persuasion — should you still feel the need to install iOS 11 on your daily device.

Fine, install it, but remember you’ve been warned. Signing up and installing the public beta is really simple. Follow along as Matt Elliot walks you through installing the iOS 11 public beta.

You can go back, but it’s rough. Had enough of living on a beta? Go back to iOS 10 by following these instructions . 

iOS 11 basics

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Here are the iOS 11 features Apple announced at WWDC 2017

Hidden features galore. Apple didn’t announce every single feature added to iOS 11 at its big event at WWDC in June (above). That’s OK — we started digging through it a short time later. Here, take a look at what Apple didn’t tell you about iOS 11.

Your iPad will change — a lot. A new dock, drag-and-drop, multi-tasking and more. iOS 11 will totally change your iPad. 

Slight tweaks to Messages. A new iMessage app drawer, a new Apple Pay app and a couple of screen effects have been added to the app. Here’s the Messages rundown. 

Notification Center is dead, long live the Lock Screen. The central hub on iOS 11 where you can find all of your alerts and notifications is now the Lock Screen. Not only does it look different, but it has a few new quirks to it as well. Here’s what you need to know.

Drastic changes are coming. At first glance, it’s going to seem like Apple didn’t change a lot when it comes to the look and feel of iOS 11 — but it did. In fact, there are seven drastic changes coming to your iPhone with iOS 11. 

Text with Siri. It’s not always possible to have a voice conversation with Siri. While it was added as an accessibility feature, the ability to type to Siri is useful for everyone.  

Keep your location private. With iOS 11, you now have the control of just how often an app can access your location information — regardless of what options the developer has added to the app. You’ll be prompted the first time you launch an app that always tracks you, and presented with an option to change its permissions. 

Forget your Wi-Fi’s password. The next time a friend wants to connect to your Wi-Fi network, you can approve the request directly on your iOS 11 device without having to remember or hand over the password. It’s slick.  

Forget app passwords, too. Apple has expanded its iCloud Keychain password manager beyond Safari. Now, you can use it to log into apps as well as websites. 

SOS. An Emergency SOS feature will use your iPhone to call for help after five quick presses of the wake button. Not only does it call for help, but it disables Touch ID — which can be important. Here’s why. 

Take control

Make Control Center your own. The three-panel Control Center from iOS 10 is gone. With iOS 11 you can add or remove shortcuts you don’t use, along with a few hidden Control Center features you’re sure to love. 

AirPods get smarter. Instead of the lone option to activate Siri with a double-tap on either AirPod earbud, starting with iOS 11 you can control the specific function each AirPod will take. 

Free up storage space. Storage space on a mobile device is always at a premium, especially if you’re using a 16GB phone. Apple is making iOS smart enough to proactively get rid of unused apps, and providing tips to free up space with a tap. 

Stay safe while driving. Your iPhone can now tell when you’re in a car, and in turn it will automatically enable a new feautre called Do Not Disturb While Driving. Any incoming text alerts will be stopped, keeping your eyes on the road. 

Go dark. There’s a new dark mode hidden in the Settings app for iOS users. It’s not designed for daily use, but it can come in handy in dark environments. Here’s what you need to know. 

Get creative

Live Photos get lively. Creating a quick animation out of a Live Photo is now possible with a couple of taps. The end result is fun, if not impressive. 

Screenshots on steroids. A new screenshot tool in iOS 11 makes it easy to capture what’s on your screen, edit, crop or add your signature and then share it and delete it. It’s awesome. 

But screenshots are so 2016. With a quick tap of a button, you can now record your iOS device’s screen. This is particularly handy for creating how-to guides — perhaps you want to show off how to beat the last level of Monument Valley 2. What are you waiting for? Set it up.

Scan documents in the Notes app. Yup, Apple added a document scanner to the Notes app on iOS 11. Launch the app, select scan document and wait for it to do its magic.  

The Notes app is totally new. In addition to scanning documents, the Notes app is full of other features. Here’s the full list. 

All your files in one place. The iCloud Drive app has been replaced by a new Files app. It’s also where you can find Box, Dropbox and similar services. We have some tips for getting the most out of it . 

Don’t forget the iPad

Apple’s tablet is like a brand-new device after installing the new software. Here are 7 tips and tricks for navigating the iPad on iOS 11.

It’s more than iOS

Apple TV joins the fun. The public beta of its TVOS 11 software adds some a few tweaks and new features, including a dark mode and syncing of home screen layout between multiple Apple TVs. Here’s what you need to know to install the TVOS 11 beta.

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