Apple Releases iOS 11 – Here Are 10 Features App Developers Need To Know

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‘Keep making apps. The world is depending on you’
That’s what Apple emphatically said in the kick-off video of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held earlier this June. The video depicted the world in utter chaos in the absence of apps and with it, Apple invoked all developers to keep on making apps.

At the WWDC, Apple unveiled a teaser of the iOS 11 coming out this fall and developers all across the world can’t wait. Anticipation is high as developers try to get their hands on the limited access developer’s beta version and explore its possibilities. With exciting new features and some much-needed improvements, iOS 11 has a lot in store for app developers. Here’s a look at some of the vital features on offer and what developers can do with it –

1. Sirikit

The Sirikit in iOS 11 features improved functionality allowing your iOS apps and watchOS apps to work seamlessly with Siri. It supports a wide range of intents and lets you access apps through voice even when those apps aren’t running. So you can give a command like “Text Mike using the MyTextApp” or “Look for Thanksgiving photos in MyPhotosApp”. No matter what the command, if an app is compatible with Siri, Siri will pull it up just by voice.

In the last year, voice has become a vital interface for mobile technology because of the benefits it offers. It provides users super quick and hands-free access to their mobiles, making it available at their beck and call. Sirikit with its advanced voice interactions can handle transactions such as money transfer and bill payments through banking apps, scan QR codes, book a cab, play music, and of course, make a call.

App developers need to make sure their apps are compatible with Siri and activate seamlessly on voice commands to utilize the true potential of the Sirikit.

2. ARKit

Augmented reality has held the public attention in a big way ever since the wild success of Pokemon Go. Apple has decided to up the game in the world of AR in a big way with its ARKit in the new iOS. It seamlessly blends the real world around you with digital objects you want to see superimposed on it. The new framework makes it easy for developers to create an unparalleled AR experience on their apps. By simply pointing their phone’s camera to any object, users can digitally alter or enhance the image real time. The ARKit allows the apps to go beyond the screen and interact with reality fusing camera sensor data with CoreMotion data, letting users view a high-fidelity reproduction of the desired outcome without any additional calibration. It can detect horizontal planes like floors and tables and get an accurate estimate of the light in the camera sensor to produce visually rich and accurate scenes.

3. Natural Language Processing

In its pursuit of excellence in machine learning, Apple brings to developers Core ML in iOS 11, allowing developers to create intelligent apps. One major area in which Core ML finds application is Natural Language Processing. iOS 11 gets more intuitive at recognizing names and addresses, detecting foreign language words and automatically translating the UI into that language, and even delivering related searches if there isn’t an exact match for the searched word. It can detect phrases and even sentiments, to deliver most suitable results.

Some of these features have the potential to revolutionize the way people use their iPhones and iPads. Developers can cash in on this feature by making their apps adequately optimized for voice search.

4. Face Detection and Tracking

The Core ML also extends to a whole new Vision framework that has a host of visual tracking capabilities like face detection and face tracking. Photo-based apps could make use of the advanced visual tracking in making changes and adding virtual accessories to a face in real time using the phone camera.

5. Barcode Recognition

While this may not sound entirely new, iOS 11 does make it much easier than before. While scanning QR codes to access a target website, users earlier had to download a scanning app. With the latest updates, the users can simply point their camera to the barcode or QR code. iOS 11 will do the rest of the heavy lifting and the user will directly be taken to the desired page in an app. This is one feature no developer should leave unexploited, as there was never a quicker way to engage cursory users and improve app discoverability.

6. Object Tracking

With the new iOS 11, your iPhone will tell you everything you need to know about an object if you just point your camera to it. Once again, all the processing takes place in the background and all that you see is information popping up on your screen without any delays. Just point at a prominent building and your phone will tell you more about it, or point at a car to know its price, make and other details. As a developer, you can leverage object tracking into your app, thereby funneling people directly to your app every time they get curious about a product related to your app.

7. Text Detection

With advanced machine learning and vision framework, iOS 11 can help users snap a picture of the notes they made on the back of a napkin and convert it to text. While this is one feature that developers will need to explore a bit, iOS’s text detection will, in theory, make it much simpler to capture an image of printed text and convert it to a digital copy.

8. Improved Push Notifications  

Push notifications are one of the primary ways to promote new app content and draw user’s attention. While the last update saw push notifications take on more meaning than just messages that pop, with the all new iOS 11, push notifications will get even more interactive and functional. Users will be able to respond to a text or comment on a photo right in the notification, without even opening the app. Users will also have the option to make some notifications private that cannot be seen without a passcode. Developers can integrate this functionality into their apps to entice users who cherish their privacy.

9. Drag and Drop

Bringing a bit of old world charm from the days of the desktop to your iPhone, iOS 11 presents the drag and drop functionality. With the power of Multi-Touch, users can tap and hold on an image, text selection or file and drop it into another app using spring-loading. Developers of note apps, to-do lists and the like must leverage this functionality to the most.

10. Some Old Devices Dropped

With the upcoming launch of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPad Pro 10.5, iOS 11 will no longer support the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPad Mini.

Conclusion

This is an exciting time for iOS developers across the world. With the beta version of iOS 11 now out, developers can work their brains to see how newest, swankiest and the most dazzling apps can be created, over the next few months. Once the new iOS comes out this fall, the world of apps will get smarter than ever before. Here’s your chance to surprise your users and create something beautiful thanks to iOS 11’s brilliant capabilities. This article should serve as a heads up helping you plan your strategy well ahead of time. What feature are you most excited about? Do share with us in the comments.

Hiral Atha is the Co-Founder and Technical Head of MoveoApps.