iOS 11.3 Preview

It is not often that Apple unveils information about upcoming releases. However, they have been known to do so when the information is compelling. This case is one of those times. Apple has provided some new information about an upcoming release of iOS 11.3. There are a number of new features that Apple has mentioned.

Batteries and Performance

In December 2017, Apple announced that they were changing the pricing on battery replacements, for the iPhone 6 and later. What prompted this was the outcry by users who have experienced slow downs of their iOS devices, without really informing them that it was occurring. In order to allow users to have more control Apple is adding additional options. There are two new options. The first is a descriptor that allows you to see if your battery needs to be serviced or if something has gone awry with the battery. This is available on iPhone 6 and later. The second option is to allow you to enable or disable throttling. Disabling throttling could result in your iPhone spontaneously rebooting. The second feature is only amiable for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.

Animoji

One of the big features of the iPhone X is Animoji. Animoji are animated emoji and allow iPhone X users to send short 10-second messages to individuals. Upon launch of the iPhone X, there were only 12. With iOS 11.3, there is a 33% increase to a total of 16. The new Animoji include:

  • Lion
  • Bear
  • Dragon
  • Skull

The addition of these Animoji will provide users additional ways of sending messages and should provide more entertainment time for some.

Augmented Reality

One of the biggest pushes for Apple is Augmented Reality. To help developers create immersive AR experiences Apple created a framework called ARKit. While ARKit was capable of doing things that many did not expect, there were still some limitations to the framework. Some of these are being eliminated with ARKit 1.5. ARKit 1.5 will be capable of detecting vertical surfaces, which includes doorways. This is huge for Augmented Reality. This is not all, ARKit 1.5 is also capable of detecting signs, posters, and even artwork to provide more experiences. One of the features of ARKit is the ability to map out certain areas. ARKit 1.5 will be able to map more irregular shapes. Many expected ARKit to be updated with the next major release of iOS, but given that Apple has stated the Augmented Reality is a high priority, seeing incremental updates is a sign that they truly do mean this a priority.

Health Records

Many people are familiar with the idea of electronic medical records. Even if electronic records are available, they are scattered across multiple sites. Apple is hoping to be able to eliminate the need to visit all of these locations just to get your information. This is where the new feature, Health Records, within the Health app comes into play. Health Records is a beta and requires a participating institution. These institutions include:

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine – Baltimore, Maryland
  • Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles, California
  • Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Geisinger Health System – Danville, Pennsylvania
  • UC San Diego Health – San Diego, California
  • UNC Health Care – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Rush University Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois
  • Dignity Health – Arizona, California and Nevada
  • Ochsner Health System – Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
  • MedStar Health – Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
  • OhioHealth – Columbus, Ohio
  • Cerner Healthe Clinic – Kansas City, Missouri

With Health Records “consumers will have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.” Privacy is important to Apple so protecting this data is paramount and is a no-brainer.

Business Chat

At their 2017 World Wide Developer Conference Apple unveiled a new feature called “Business Chat”. Business Chat allows customers to interact with businesses. Interactions could include order status, product questions, scheduling support, paying for products, and more. The businesses have been able to test their servers since last June, but customers will begin being able to use the service. Some of the companies that will be available during the beta are: Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. It is likely that additional businesses will be added over time.

Other Features

There are a few other features that will be included in iOS 11.3.

Apple Music will soon be the home for music videos. Users can stream all the music videos they want without being interrupted by ads. This will be nice for users who want to see music videos.

Safety is an important part of everyday life. iOS 11.3 will support Advanced Mobile Location (AML). When making an emergency call, AML will allow a user’s current location to automatically be sent to emergency services. This feature will only be available in some countries.

Final Thoughts

Even though iOS 11.3 is not a major release, it will include a number of features and there is probably something for everyone. From things like battery monitoring to new Animoji to consolidated health records to Business Chat. iOS 11.3 is available for developers now, but should for Public betas sometime soon.