Mar. 29, Apple released iOS 11.3, the latest version of Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system – and it offers more features than you might expect from a mid-cycle “.3” release. Whether you’re interested in augmented reality, cute Animojis or just looking for a way to keep Apple from throttling your iPhone, there is sure to be something in this update that will pique everyone’s curiosity.
iOS 11.3 is a free update for iPhone 5S and later, any iPad Air or Pad Pro, iPad fifth gen, iPad Mini 2 and later, and iPod Touch sixth gen. Animojis require an iPhone X, though, and only a subset of these iPhones and iPads support ARKit. You can check out the free update yourself by tapping: Settings/General/Software Updated on your Apple device.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated features of the iOS update is the addition of Battery Health. Late last year when Apple issued an official apology for slowing down iPhones with older batteries, the company not only said it would drop the price of out-of-warranty replacement batteries to $29 from $79 but would also through the 11.3 update, let users monitor the health of their battery.
Essentially, Apple is letting users have control of their device’s battery. You can turn off the throttling features, and/or navigate to settings > battery to take a look at your battery’s current health. However, if your iPhone 6 or later does need a battery replacement to maintain peak performance without issues, iOS 11.3 will notify you of this. Then, it’s just a matter of opting for Apple’s $29 replacement battery deal sometime before the end of the year, which is when battery replacements for iPhones will return to the normal $79 rate.
Another new feature that people are buzzing about is the new Health Records feature, which hopes to provide something patients have wanted since the advent of the medical record – an easy-to-access single and encrypted hub of all your medical records, no matter which doctor, clinic or hospital you pick.
Navigate to the Health Records section of the Health app by tapping the Health Data icon at the bottom of the screen. After tapping “Get Started,” you can either search for a medical provider by hospital name, network or location, or choose from the provider list Apple provides. Simply tape the institution to select it. You’ll have to sign in with your user ID and password for that institution, the same credentials you’d use for that hospital’s patient portal. The promise is that having done so once, you won’t be required to enter your credentials again. Apple states that this feature will automatically look for updated medical records on a weekly basis, though users can check more frequently whenever they feel like it.
Furthermore, another selling point to the new update is that the company reports the health records data, which is encrypted, goes directly from the medical provider to the user’s phone – meaning that it does not reside on Apple’s own servers, thus protecting the privacy of iPhone and iPad users.
Here’s a short list of everything else interesting that Apple has announced:
- The addition of four new Animojis – The lion, bear, dragon, and skull.
- ARKit 1.5, which recognizes vertical surfaces and “irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables.”
- The addition of Business Chat – a no hassle chat with your preferred bank or store.
- Apple’s got a new privacy icon in iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 that’ll pop up whenever Apple asks for your personal information.
- For privacy’s sake, the Safari browser won’t autofill your passwords unless you tap the password field first.
- Apple says Apple Music will soon let users “stream all the music videos they want without being interrupted by ads” and offer music video playlists.
- Apple says Apple News will offer an “improved Top Stories” section and a new video section with “the most important videos of the day”.
- You’ll be able to sort App Store reviews by “Most Helpful,” “Most Favorable”, “Most Critical” and “Most Recent” now.
- Apple says iOS 11.3 will support Advanced Mobile Location to automatically send a user’s location to emergency services when they make a 911 (or similar) call.
- Apple says it’ll let developers make HomeKit accessories with software authentication (which is cheaper than a hardware authentication chip, so maybe we’ll see more HomeKit adoption).
- Use an iPad as a cash register for your small business? (Or otherwise keep it plugged in all the time?) Apple says iOS 11.3 will manage your battery better from now on.
- Apple Pay is now compatible with Chinese metro and bus lines in Beijing and Shanghai.
- The Apple TV app (for iPhone, iPad) is now available in Brazil and Mexico. Brazil gets Siri voice assistant support on recent Apple TV set-top devices as well.
- If you’ve had trouble getting audio apps to play in your car, or sync contacts with your car’s phone book, iOS 11.3 should fix those too.
- watchOS 4.3 will let you control your HomePod playback and volume from an Apple
- Watch, and use the Nightstand charging mode in any orientation.
- tvOS 11.3 will let your 4th-gen Apple TV play back videos at their original framerate (say, 24fps film).