Apple's next iPhone, set to come out later this year, is expected to feature a wide range of new capabilities, thanks to a update coming to the iOS mobile operating system.
Previewed this week at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, iOS 11 will support new features for augmented reality apps, a smarter and more language-savvy Siri digital assistant, expanded payment options through Apple Pay, and more. The iOS update will be available free to iPhone, iPad, and iPod users sometime this fall, Apple said.
While Apple typically launches new iPhones shortly after its iOS updates, this year's phones are expected to be delayed past the usual release date in September. Various leaks indicate the latest flagship device, which might be named something other than iPhone 8, and two other new iPhones could be delayed due to OLED screen supply constraints and other issues.
'Biggest AR Platform in the World'
Unveiled Monday at WWDC, iOS 11 will be the "biggest software release ever" for iPad users, Apple said. It will be available for all models of the iPad Air and iPad Pro, as well as for the iPhone 5s and up, 5th-generation iPad, 6th-generation iPod touch, and iPad mini 2 and up.
iOS 11 will deliver "the biggest AR platform in the world," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, said Monday in a statement. A developer preview of the new operating system is now available, and a public beta for iOS users is set for release later this month.
"iOS 11 gives iPad users the powerful app functionality they need to take advantage of everything iPad is capable of, and brings hundreds of new features and incredible updates to the iOS apps iPhone and iPad users enjoy every day," Federighi said.
More advanced augmented reality capabilities will be made possible through ARKit, Apple's new framework for developers who want to build AR apps for iPad and iPhone users.
"By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, ARKit takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways," according to Apple. Using the cameras, processors and motion sensors built into iOS devices, "ARKit allows developers to tap into the latest computer vision technologies to build detailed and compelling virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more."
New App Store Now Live
Meanwhile, the iOS 11 update will improve digital assistant Siri's voice and language capabilities with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Among the upgraded features for Siri will be new and more natural male and female voice options and the ability to translate English words and phrases into five languages: French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish.
Siri will also use upgraded on-device learning to take user experiences on one app to other apps. For example, based on searches made using the Safari browser, Siri will be able to offer more personalized place and topic suggestions on Mail, Messages and other apps.
Other updates arriving with iOS 11 include new Loop and Bounce effects for photos, Apple Pay payments via Messages and Siri, and a "do not disturb" feature that can be enabled while driving.
Apple this week also launched an updated App Store that adds original editorial features, a "Today" tab for daily announcements about new features, and other new tabs for Games, Apps and Updates.
According to recent reports, Apple plans to launch three new iPhones this year sometime after the release of iOS 11: an iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, and a new flagship phone rumored to be named the "iPhone Edition". While manufacturing has been said to be delayed because of supply issues, mass production of the new iPhones has now started, Latvian designer Benjamin Geskin noted in a tweet yesterday. Geskin also posted schematic images that purport to show the design of the new iPhone.
Image credit: Product shots by Apple.
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