After debuting as recently as September last year, the iOS 11 has already seen a dozen official updates.
While the previous update, introduced last month, was to take care of a bug linked to a character in the Indian Telugu language that caused apps to crash, the latest iOS 11.3 released Thursday (March 29) is a pretty significant update.
It comes with a whole lot of new features, including four brand new Animoji characters, advanced ARKit, and beta versions of a new Battery Health feature, Health Records, Business Chat and a host of other additions.
So, let’s look at each of these features individually and see how they measure up to the overall Apple experience.
Let’s start with the ‘Battery Health’ feature, which is being looked at as the biggest update following the massive criticism and bad press Apple received for intentionally throttling processor performance on older iPhone devices.
Well, to make amends for what was a major breach of customer confidence, if nothing else, Apple has introduced this Battery Health feature in the new update that allows users to completely disable any kind of throttling regardless of how old the battery may be.
However, there’s a downside to turning off the battery throttling feature, in that phones with older and weakened batteries can shut down if they are unable to handle the power supply for some heavy-duty processor workloads.
While users can keep switching between the throttling on and off feature, installing a new iPhone battery would be the best line of action in such scenarios.
While the on/off toggling option is available only iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as of now, all iPhone 6 and subsequent models will receive a prompt on a new Battery Health interface, informing them that a battery change is recommended.
The new section can be reached under Settings –> Battery –> Battery Health (Beta).
For iPhone X users, iOS 11.3 is bringing four brand new Animojis, including a lion, a bear, a dragon and a skull, increasing the Animoji strength to sixteen cute characters.
The A11 Bionic chip and the TrudeDepth camera inside the iPhone X, which captures and analyzes 50 different facial muscles before it animates you into the avatar of your choice, will now have 16 instead of 12 Animojis to work with.
And then we have the ‘Business Chat’ – another seemingly useful addition.
First unveiled as a preview at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June last year, the new beta version ‘Business Chat’ on iOS 11.3 allows users to communicate with Apple-partnered businesses from within the convenience of the Messages app, thereby avoiding relatively lesser friendly options like social media, email, and phones.
Apple is already exploring partnership possibilities with the likes of Wells Fargo, Discover, Lowe’s and Hilton.
Let’s move on to ‘Health Records’ now.
Anyone who updates to the 11.3 iOS can benefit from the new ‘Health Records’ section, which integrates medical records from various hospitals and clinics across America.
The feature allows users to view their health records, get lab notifications, and more from participant providers under the ‘Business Health’ section on their iPhone devices.
Apple assures privacy and security of health-related data through passcode encryption.
The enhanced ARKit 1.5 will now allow developers to be more creative with augmented reality apps in terms of more immersive AR experiences, such as image and object recognition, placing virtual objects on vertical surfaces, such as walls, doors, tables etc., and more.
The upgraded AR kit will also be able to detect signs and posters in real-world scenarios and incorporate those images in the virtual world of 3D augmented reality on your iPhone device.
“The introduction of ARKit with iOS 11 put augmented reality into the hands of hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, making iOS the world’s biggest AR platform. Apple continues to innovate on this exciting technology, bringing ARKit 1.5 to developers to provide even more immersive AR experiences that better integrate with the world and giving them the tools to power a new generation of AR apps,” says Apple.
The iOS 11.3 also promises enhancements to Apple Music, Apple News, Advanced Mobile Location (AML) and HomeKit.
The Apple Music app will now allow users ad-free streaming of as many music videos they like.
Also, the new music playlist will give you access to your favorite artists, allowing you to watch them back-to-back, non-stop, in addition to top new videos and the classics. Of course, an Apple Music subscription would be necessary.
The Advanced Mobile Location (AML) feature is programmed to send user’s current location by default to emergency services when calls are made to them. The feature will only work in countries that offer AML support.
About the HomeKit feature, Apple claims that it “provides a great new way for developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories while protecting privacy and security.”
It must be mentioned that the earlier beta versions of Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 have been done away with in this final release of iOS 11.3 – perhaps more work is required on them before they can become mainstream.
What this actually means is that message history still cannot be saved to iCloud, and multi-room playback or stereo pairing will not be an option for the Apple HomePod. It remains to be seen how soon Apple can deliver on these two fronts as well.
The iOS 11.3 comes on the heels of Apple’s newest 9.7-inch iPad – an education-focused tablet unveiled on March 27th at the “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event at the Lane Tech College Prep School in Chicago, IL.