In January 2018, Apple announced its iOS 11.3 update for iPhones and iPads. Currently in beta, the version is being tested by developers and early adopters. A preview shows a host of new features coming this spring; four of these are highlighted below.
Battery Performance Controls
Last December, Apple apologized for slowing down the performance of older iOS devices to save battery life without clearly communicating this beforehand to customers. In iOS 11.3, users will have the ability to access a power management feature in the Battery section of the Settings menu and see for themselves if the battery’s condition is affecting performance.
Access to Health Records
A new feature called Health Records will let users access their collective health data from participating medical providers, letting them view medical info — such as allergies, recent or upcoming procedures, medications, and lab results — all in one place. The records will be encrypted, requiring a passcode to view. Apple notes that “medical facilities will connect to Health Records, offering their patients access to this feature”; current participants include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, and UC San Diego Health. Additional medical facilities will connect to Health Records over time. NPR comments, “Some doctors hail [Health Records] as a big shift away from patients having to handle a big pile of paper records every time they see a new doctor.”
With iOS 11.3, ARKit — a set of tools developers can use to create augmented reality apps for the iPhone and the iPad — will be able to recognize vertical surfaces such as walls and doors (previous versions could only identify horizontal surfaces such as tables and floors). ARKit will also be able to learn the position of two-dimensional objects hanging on a wall, such posters and signs. Apple says that developers could use ARKit’s new capabilities to add interactive augmented reality elements to movie posters or museum exhibits, or develop games that, for example, allow you to bounce virtual balls off the floor and wall.
Messages App Enhancements
iPhone X users will have access to four new Animoji faces in the Messages app (dragon, bear, skull, and lion). A new Business Chat feature will let users interact with businesses to chat and ask questions, schedule appointments, or make purchases using Apple Pay. Businesses currently signed up for Business Chat include Hilton, Discover, Lowe’s, and Wells Fargo; more will join over time.