Apple describes iOS 11 as “a giant leap for iPhones but a monumental leap for iPads.” Whether you agree or not, there are a number of fantastic new features available for iOS devices when iOS 11 is released. What’s more, many of these additions are only available on iPads and that is great news for those using iOS devices in the classroom. In this post I wanted to run through a few of my favorite new iPad features for efficiency, power and ease of use. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The New Dock
In iOS 10, (and previous version of iPad software), you were limited to 6 apps (or folders) on your dock. In iOS 11, you can have up to 13 apps and folders on a 9.7-inch iPad and 15 on the 12.9″ versions. There is also a section on the right of the dock that includes three recently used apps that may or may not be on your main dock. You can summon the dock while using any app by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and a long press on dock apps like Files will reveal additional shortcuts to your data. The new dock helps you launch what you need faster than ever, but it also becomes the foundation of multitasking.
Switching between apps in iOS 11 is very much tied to the new dock. Split View and Slide Over are alive and well in iOS 11, but the app picker that you summoned by swiping in from the right of your screen is now gone. Instead, you can drag any app from the dock to enter Split View or Slide Over. You can have up to 3 apps open at one time, on some devices, so multitasking has definitely got an upgrade in this new version of the iPad software. Especially when you throw in drag and drop to the mix.
3. Drag and Drop
In iOS 11, Apple have included the ability to drag and drop data between apps. You can drag and drop text, files, URL links, photos, videos and more. You can do this with multiple versions of each file type and can even use this ability to more efficiently arrange the icons on your home screen. With drag and drop, the iPad behaves more like a traditional desktop computer in the way that you navigate and move files around. With practice, this will make you more efficient and help you perform tasks that you would not otherwise be able to do on an iPad.
4. Files App
For years, Apple saw no need for iOS users to access individual files on their devices. Yes, there were apps like iCloud Drive and Documents by Readdle, but there was nothing native that let you manage all your files from all your apps and services. In iOS 11, the Files app is designed to do just that. What’s more, you can link Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud accounts so that you can access all of your files in one place and move files between accounts as you please.
New ways to use your stylus, Apple Pencil, or just your finger are included in iOS 11 to help teachers and students take advantage of markup tools for annotations. Screenshots now come with a raft of new pen tools, websites can be saved as a PDF and marked up, and you can now add in-line drawings in the Notes app. Apple Pencil users can also activate a new drawing in Notes by tapping on the lock screen with the stylus. These features are great for teachers who want to demonstrate or draw attention to specific screen elements in real time or when grading or marking up drafts.
6. Document Scanner in Notes
Also included in Notes is the ability to scan paper documents and turn them into a PDF. There are countless other apps in the Store that do this, (see Office Lens, Scanner Pro, or Evernote Scannable), but native integration will again save you installing other apps and may well work better with system apps. Personally, I think the Notes app is an unusual place to include a document scanner, (the Camera app makes more sense to me), but as long as you remember it is there, the chances are high you will use this one a lot.
7. QR Scanner in the Camera App
Have you ever wished that the Camera app could scan QR codes? Well, in iOS 11 it can! Simply launch the app, point it at a QR code, and wait for the code to be recognized. This is something that I have wanted for some time now, so I am glad to see it included in the latest update. Better late than never, right? 🙂
8. Screen Recording
I’ve written about how to record your iPad screen before, and the truth is, there are lots of options on how to do this. However, the simplest one would be to let you record on your iPad without the need for additional software or computers. That is exactly what you get in iOS 11. Apple took the screen recording feature from Swift Playgrounds and integrated it into a system wide screencasting feature. You can now record your iPad screen with a quick tap from Control Center. This is great for teacher tutorials or students who want to show what they know.
9. ARKit for Augmented Reality
There are already a number of great augmented reality apps for the iPad that you can use in your classroom and Apple have decided to embrace this technology with a new AR framework to help developers build augmented reality apps that are even better than before. AR is a powerful technology that makes learning come to life in new and exciting ways, so I can’t wait to see what new apps are created to take advantage of this new technology.
10. The QuickType Keyboard
The new QuickType keyboard was created to help avoid switching between the three different layers you get on a typical iPad keyboard. Each key now has an alternate character which you can access by swiping down on the key. This lets you access numbers, punctuation and more without ever having to tap the .?123 key that you normally tap in and out of in order to find the character you are looking for. It makes typing faster and more efficient when using the touchscreen keyboard.
11. Redesigned Podcasts App
If, like me, you are a big fan of podcasts as a way to broaden your PLN and learn from others, then you will quickly notice the redesigned Podcasts app on iPhones and iPads running iOS 11. Functionally, not much has changed, but the interface is new and is more in line with the design language in Mail, News, Settings and other Apple apps.
Will Your Device Run iOS 11?
Not all features are available for all devices, but if you are wondering whether or not your iPad can run iOS 11, then take a look at the chart below. iOS 11 will be released in September 2017.
Which is your favorite new feature in iOS 11 and why?