iOS 11 Beta: a return to form

Date:15 August 2017 Author: Lindsey Schutters Tags:, , , , , , , , ,

This isn’t your dad’s iOS. Hell, if you jumped over to the larger screens of the Android ecosystem before Apple went flat, you may not recognise iOS 11 at all should you come back. But there’s something familiar about it. It’s the most Android iOS has ever been, but at the the same time it’s peak Apple. It’s why I coveted an iPhone from afar many years ago. It’s why so many people the world over love their i-devices. It just works. But on the iPad, it sings.

To be fair, it isn’t working properly right now. I’m on Beta 4 on my beloved iPhone SE and just last night, Siri didn’t recognise me. There’s also something weird happening with transitioning from landscape to portrait where the phone gets stuck in between states. And there’s still a serious case of missing Garmin integration into the Health application.

I sorted out the Siri problem by selecting myself in Siri settings and with a reboot. That thankfully cured her of her amnesia when I needed to call my wife while rushing off to attend to a family emergency. She’s also gained some extra features. Well, she just works better now. She being Siri.

The voice feedback sounds slightly less robotic. The vocal recognition is better. the context recognition is better. But now you have to say “Hey Siri” and then immediately dive into the command/request/task without the now customary pause. That is simultaneously more natural and unnatural because humans are used to waiting for a response to know that the other person is listening.

Camera enhancements are plentiful with better image processing making the time spent away from the Huawei P10 Plus more than bearable. The latest operating system brings updated filters (vivid, dramatic and monochrome) each with two variations (warm and cool), but noir is my absolute favourite because it closely replicates the Leica monochrome enhancements on the P10. But the overall increase in quality from HDR shots is remarkable. Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus has also been elevated to the summit of mount software bokeh effect.

But you didn’t come here for the iPhone. You came here to find out whether you can safely get an iPad as a replacement for your ageing laptop. The answer is a hard “HELL YEAH”.

While the new Files application is a bit finicky, I’m certain that Apple’s engineers will iron out the bugs in the third party service integration (Dropbox and Google Drive open as separate windows that can’t use drag and drop), but simply having any kind of access to an i-device filing system makes the world of difference. Outside of that, using up to three apps side-by-side is as close to desktop operating system productivity as I need to complete my day-to-day tasks.

Further changes like the Mac OS-style dock that grants quick access to your frequently used apps really speed up any task.

I know what you’re thinking and can tell you right now that you don’t need the slender bezels and blistering screen rates of the iPad Pro 10,5. I used the recently released and significantly cheaper iPad as well as the iPad Pro 9,7-inch – with that laptop-grade A10x fusion processor – and both performed perfectly. These two devices also represent the value purchases in the range with the iPad being the entry level and the iPad Pro 9,7 being effectively replaced by the 10,5 version (you also retain the adaptive colour display and Apple Pencil functionality).

If you do go up to the iPad Pro 12,9 then try pairing it with the perfectly sized Zagg Messenger Universal. I prefer the BrydgeAir because it makes the package look more like a laptop. Either way, on a software level, you won’t find a better laptop replacement tablet, or laptop for that matter, at under R9 000.

iOS 11 is makes some welcome sense out of the compatible device range and leapfrogs Android in some areas, most notably granting users granular control over app permissions while still outing snooping programs by reporting whenever an app uses location. Siri is also back in the voice assistant race with better contextual awareness. September is going to be a good month for fruit fans.