Yesterday, Apple had one of its largest Keynote addresses ever, announcing a ton of software improvements and new hardware. With iOS 11, the iPhone will be more fun and satisfying to use than ever. The new HomePod speaker due later this year is Apple's answer to both the Sonos and Amazon Echo devices. New iPads will be available next week, boasting faster speed, better screens, improved support for the Apple Pencil, and a new 10.5" size that is very close to the size of a traditional 9.7" iPad but features a much larger screen thanks to a smaller bezel.
But today, I want to focus on one set of new features in iOS 11 (available for free this Fall) which will be incredibly useful for attorneys who use an iPad in their law practice, whether it be an existing iPad or one of the newest models due next week. In short, iOS 11 adds more professional iPad features than we have ever seen before, and the gap between an iPad and a "real" computer is getting thinner than the bezel on the new 10.5" iPad. Here are the new features that were announced yesterday.
The current dock on the iPad can hold just six app icons. In iOS 11, the dock can hold many more icons. I'm not sure of the limit, but in the demo yesterday I saw as many as 14 apps in there at a time. And the last app on the right wasn't even something that the user added; it is a predictive spot in which the iPad shows an app that it thinks you might use because, for example, you recently used it on your iPad or iPhone.
You can see the dock in any app by swiping up from the bottom. And with so many apps in the dock, you can quickly switch from app to app without having to go back to the home screen first. This allows you to be even more productive as you switch between apps on your iPad. I am constantly switching between Microsoft Word, GoodReader, Mail, Safari, and many other apps as I get work done on my iPad, so it will be great to be able to work even faster.
But having so many app icons on the dock is even more useful because of the next major improvement...
Improved split screen
Apple introduced some basic multitasking features in iOS 9, such as the ability to have two apps on the screen at the same time. I often find it useful to look at an exhibit on one side of the screen while I am typing on the other side of the screen.
Multitasking in iOS 11 is far more impressive. First, you can drag any app from the dock to see it on the side of the screen in slide over mode, where it hovers in a window over your main app so that you can quickly see or do something. And you can snap that app into place to have a split screen view similar to what was added in iOS 9.
App Switcher with Spaces
Swiping up from the bottom of the iPad screen in iOS 11 brings up the Dock. But if you keep swiping up, you see the new App Switcher. The App Switcher shows a new and improved control panel (more on that in a minute) but also shows other running apps so that you can switch to one of them.
Or, you can switch to more than one of them. With iOS 11, the iPad remembers if you have a space in which you have one app on the left and one app on the right, so you can switch to a space with both of those apps where they are supposed to be. So you might have one space in which Microsoft Word is on the left and GoodReader is in the right showing an exhibit. You might have another space in which Mail is on the left and Safari is on the right so that you can write an email while reading information on a website. The new App Switcher shows each of these spaces so that you can quickly select the pairing for the work that you are doing.
Drag and Drop
In iOS 9, it is frustrating to see something on the left side of your screen that you want to put on the right side of the screen and not be able to just drag from one side to the other — such as dragging a picture or text from Safari into a Microsoft Word document. Or dragging a URL from Safari into an email. iOS 11 adds this ability.
But that is just the beginning. You can select one object and then tap additional objects to select more than one object to drag at one time, such as multiple pictures.
You can also drag and drop to an app that isn't currently on the screen — dragging across spaces. Apple showed an example yesterday of selecting multiple pictures in the photos app, then using your other hand to drag up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the App Switcher, and then dragging those photos into another app that wasn't even on the screen when you started.
We've all been using Drag and Drop on computers for a very long time, so I knew that Drag and Drop would come to the iPad one day, but I wasn't sure how Apple would make this work on a touch-based interface. The system that Apple previewed yesterday seems to work incredibly well, making very complicated steps look simple. This is a new feature that I expect to be using frequently.
With the iOS 10 on-screen keyboard, you tap a key to type the letter on that key. iOS 11 adds a new QuickType Keyboard which shows at the top of many keys an alternate character that you can type, such as punctuation, by swiping down on a key instead of taping the key. This saves you time because you don't have to first tap the ?123 to switch to the alternative keyboard with punctuation symbols.
One of the stumbling blocks for getting work done on an iPad has been the lack of a file system. I feel like this is especially true for attorneys — our job constantly involves working with multiple documents, whether you are a transactional attorney or a litigator. Many of us get around the lack of a file system in iOS 10 by using a service like Dropbox, and perhaps even an app like GoodReader to sync multiple folders from Dropbox to the iPad so that they are always on the iPad. But this was always an imperfect solution because items in those folders are not always easy to access in other apps.
In iOS 11, Apple is introducing the new Files app. It supports folders, folders within folders, a grid view or a list view, the ability to designate folders as favorites for easy access, the ability to search for files, the ability to tag files with a color and label, and the ability to sort by name, file size, date or tags. It has a Recents view to show all of the files you accessed most recently. It can work with files stored on the iPad itself or files stored in iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and the Adobe Creative Cloud. You can either start in the Files app by selecting a file to work with, or you can start in some other app and end up in Files. For example, you might have an email attachment that you want to drag into the Files app to put it into a folder.
You can also swipe up from the bottom of the screen so that the Dock appears and then tap and hold on the icon for the Files app to see recent documents. If one of those recent documents is the one that you want, you can drag the document directly from the Dock into an app.
I recently showed you how, in iOS 10, you can use the Print function to turn an email or other document into a PDF file on the iPad. In iOS 11, you can do this more directly with a new Create PDF button in the menu that appears when you tap the share button (the box with the arrow coming out of it).
You have long been able to create a screenshot of whatever is on an iPad (or iPhone) screen by pressing the home button and the power button at the same time. In iOS 11, when you create a screenshot, you'll see a small thumbnail preview at the bottom left corner of the screen. Tap that preview to bring up the new screenshot editor, where you can crop and annotate the image.
The new cropping feature is a big improvement over iOS 10, where you would have to take the screenshot, then switch into the Photos app, then locate and open the image, then switch to the editor mode, then select the crop tool and then crop the image. In iOS 11, when you see something on part of your screen that you want to quickly send to someone else, it will be much faster. If you see something on a website that you want to show to a colleague, you can take a screenshot, quickly crop to the important part, and then email that cropped image.
Apple Pencil integration
In iOS 10, the Apple Pencil is the best way to draw on an iPad, whether you are taking notes, circling and underlining a document, or just doodling a picture. In iOS 11, you can do even more with the Apple Pencil. Just about anywhere that you can work with a PDF file or a screenshot, you can use the Pencil to annotate in iOS 11's expanded Markup option. Apple calls this Instant Markup because as soon as your Pencil starts to draw on a document, you are instantly annotating the document.
You can also use the Pencil in the Mail app so that you can easily put a sketch in the middle of an email. In the demo that Apple showed yesterday, the sketch appears inline with the message. I'm not yet sure if other mail software, such as Microsoft Outlook, keeps the sketch inline with the message or just adds the sketch as an attached image file.
When you write notes using the Pencil in Apple's Notes app, the Notes app now automatically converts your handwriting into text so that you can search for the text. And if you use a Pencil to tap on your iPad's lock screen, it automatically opens the Notes app for you. (Speaking of the Notes app, it now also features a document scanner, but for those of us who have been using apps like Scanner Pro or ScanBot for many years, this isn't all that impressive.)
In iOS 11, the Control Center on the iPad (and iPhone) is much improved. I mentioned above that if you swipe up from the bottom of the screen you will first see the Dock, and then as you continue swiping you will see the new App Switcher. On the right side of that same screen, you will see the Control Center. Unlike iOS 10 where Control Center functions were spread across several screens so you have to swipe left and right to get to the one you want, in iOS 11 all of the main Control Center functions are visible at once. If you 3D touch on a set of features on the iPhone or long press on the iPad, you can open up a set of controls to see even more features.
This design makes it faster to access the Control Center features that you want. This design also lets Apple put even more power into Control Center, such as the ability to toggle on or off cellular data, AirDrop receiving, and Personal Hotspot. You can even customize the Control Center to add the buttons that you want. The improved Control Center can save you from having to open the Settings app and hunt down a feature, and thus can save you time.
These new features in iOS 11 will let attorneys and others be much more productive with an iPad. Most of these functions will also work on an iPhone, but you do even more with them on the large iPad screen. With iOS 11, you can more easily work with multiple apps at one time, more easily move information between apps, more easily access and share files, and more easily annotate with the Apple Pencil. I am incredibly excited to try out these new features, and it will be fantastic to have these features available to iPad users this Fall.