What’s next for iOS? We break down rumored Siri updates, Dark/Theatre Modes, AR features & much more

With every year comes a new version of iOS and this year will likely be no different. In 2017, we should expect iOS 11 to be previewed over the summer with subsequent developer and public betas and a release to the public in the fall. It’s also likely that we’ll see a less significant iOS release during the spring with iOS 10.3.

Keep reading for some ideas as to what Apple might have up its sleeve for iOS 10.3 and iOS 11…

One important thing to note is that it’s hard to speculate on Apple software. We don’t as often see leaks concerning iOS, primarily due to the fact that it’s tested entirely inside Apple, whereas hardware is designed by Apple and later prototyped and manufactured by companies abroad. But with the hardware leaks from the supply chain, of which there have been plenty, there’s a lot of clues about what to expect from iOS in return.

iOS 10.3 |

This spring, we’ll likely see iOS 10.3 be released. The operating system should first be released to developers (pretty much any day now) and pushed to the public around March. As for what to expect,  a recent report suggested that the update will add a new “theatre mode.”

Theatre Mode

Not much is known about the feature, but it is said that it will be depicted by a new popcorn shaped icon in Control Center. This suggests that enabling the feature will make an iPhone suitable for use in a movie theatre by silencing alerts and dimming the screen brightness. This feature has been met with a wide variety of negative reaction since it was first reported, so it will be interesting to see whether or not it comes to fruition.

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iPad + Apple Pencil Enhancements

The rest of iOS 10.3, which is said to be code-named Erie, will likely focus on iPad enhancements seeing that the update will likely be released in March, the same time that we’re expecting new iPads, as well.

One oft-requested feature for iPad productivity is a new app switcher for the slide-over and split-view feature. Currently, the app switcher is a long list of icons without support for search or any sort of customization, making it hard to find the specific app you’re looking for. iOS 10.3 could introduce a new interface for split view and slide-over app switching that makes it easier to find apps and search.

Apple is also said to be prepping a new Apple Pencil for release alongside new iPad Pros. A report a few months back suggested that Apple will bring new Apple Pencil software features, including the ability to annotate in apps like Mail and Safari.

The headline giveth, the small-print taketh away ...

The release of iOS 9.3 brought new features such as Night Shift, password protection for Notes, Activity integration in Health, and more.

We can never rule out a delay when it comes to Apple software, but for now, a March release seems likely for iOS 10.3.

iOS 11 |

The star of the year will likely be iOS 11, previewed and seeded to developers following WWDC in June and released to the public in the fall. While there haven’t been many reports on what iOS 11 will introduce, there are a few things that make sense.

Siri

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One call with every iOS update is for Sir improvements. Last year, Siri added support for third-party apps with things such as VoIP apps and payment apps like PayPal. Improvements to Siri with iOS 11 are all-the-more-likely if Apple is indeed developing a Siri Speaker, which has been rumored to be released this year.

The release of a Siri Speaker would put Siri at the forefront of smart home systems, meaning that Apple is likely working hard to improve the reliability and feature set of its virtual assistant.

Possible enhancements to Siri include a more human-sounding voice, even deeper integration with third-party apps, and the ability for it to handle more complex queries. Offline mode is also a widely-requested feature, especially on the heels of AirPods, which lose functionality when Siri lacks internet connectivity.

Camera app + AR

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The Camera app may also see some enhancements with iOS 11. A report suggested that Apple is working to add augmented reality to the camera app and that could be a possibility with iOS 11. Though, any sort of augmented reality feature may be saved for an announcement alongside the iPhone 8 this fall, given Tim Cook’s vested interest in the technology. With augmented reality, it’s said that users would be able to point their camera at an object and have the software recognize it.

Robert Scoble has also offered more lofty expectations for Apple’s AR ambitions, claiming that the company is working on what it calls “mixed reality,” combining virtual and artificial intelligence, as well as artificial intelligence with Siri.

Dark Mode

dark-mode

One long-standing request for iOS is support for an official Dark Mode. While this has been rumored for several recent iOS releases, is it possible that iOS 11 will finally introduce it? macOS has a very basic Dark Mode, but assets inside of iOS have suggested that its Dark Mode would be far deeper and more capable.

Dark Mode is something that users have requested for several iterations of iOS and has inspired mockups upon mockups from designers and developers. Especially with the iPhone 8 expected to switch to OLED, which offers deeper blacks, iOS 11 may be when we finally get a real Dark Mode.

TV app

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iOS 10.2 saw the introduction of a new TV app that brings together  content from a handful of streaming services like Hulu. iOS 11 could see new features and content providers for the TV, though it’s unclear if the biggest holdout, Netflix, has any interest in joining at this point.

The TV app could also integrate Apple’s rumored streaming TV service, which it could be refocusing on as competing efforts from companies like DirecTV and Hulu emerge. And it’s still U.S. only, making an international expansion a likely next step.

Messages

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One thing that has been rumored in the past but never come to fruition is support for read receipts in group iMessages. Other messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger support this and if Apple wants to compete, this is a feature that it needs to add. New emoji are also likely, which we outlined here.

Music app + Beats 1

zane lowe

If Apple keeps with recent habits, iOS 11 will almost certainly make some tweaks to the Music app. For one, there will likely be a renewed focus on Music as Apple continues to work towards launching its own original content such as its Carpool Karaoke spinoff and Planet of the Apps reality show.

Furthermore, I’d wager that there’s a bigger focus on Beats 1, as well. Zane Lowe recently remarked that it’s hard to promote that Beats 1 is free while also encouraging paid Apple Music sign-ups. One way to solve this could be a more prominent placement for the always-on streaming station in Music, as well as easier access to replays and interviews.

More iPad Improvements

More iPad improvements are likely with iOS 11 as Apple looks to revive its tablet, which has suffered from a sales decline over recent quarters. Apple is working to market the iPad as a laptop replacement and more features to make that a viable option are likely.

Bug Fixes

Last but not least, iOS 11 will hopefully include a plethora of bug fixes and general performance improvements, as well interface simplification throughout the operating system.

Wrap-up

iOS 10.3 and iOS 11 will likely be the big iOS releases of 2017 and these are just a few of the possibilities of new features that we may see. As always, Apple could very well be working on something totally new and revolutionary behind the scenes.

What do you hope to see with iOS 10.3 and iOS 11? Let us know down in the comments.


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