In his review of the iPhone X, John Gruber astutely points out that the device effectively runs a fork of iOS 11:
There were always two things and only two things on the front face of an iOS device — the touchscreen display and the home button. In fact, the iPhone X changes iOS in more fundamental ways than even the iPad did. In terms of the role between the display and the home button, the iPad really was — and remains today — “just a big iPhone”.
The iPhone X, however, creates a schism, akin to a reboot of the franchise.
Apple hasn’t called attention to this, but effectively there are two versions of iOS 11 — I’ll call them “iOS 11 X”, which runs only on iPhone X, and “iOS 11 Classic”, which runs on everything else.
The fundamental premise of iOS Classic is that a running app gets the entire display, and the home button is how you interact with the system to get out of the current app and into another. Before Touch ID, the home button was even labeled with a generic empty “app” icon, an iconographic touch of brilliance.
This is a great way to think about the evolution of iOS going forward. As I noted last month, the iPhone X will reshape the entire iOS ecosystem over the next few years. Consequently, it’ll also make it more challenging to review a new version of iOS, as we’ll have to account for deeply different variations of the same features.
Since the release of iOS 11, I haven't seen many apps use the system's new document browser – the built-in Files view that can be embedded in document-based apps as a root view. I covered this feature extensively in my iOS 11 review. Apple's iWork suite of apps has switched to Files' document browser, as did MindNode 5, but I've struggled to find other examples of high-profile third-party apps abandoning their custom file managers in favor of Apple's solution. As I argued in September, my guess is that a combination of bugs and lack of deeper customization for the document browser is preventing more apps from embracing it. Which is too bad, as the Files integration brings substantial benefits in the form of drag and drop, iCloud Drive and third-party locations, recents and tags, and more.
PDF Viewer, the powerful PDF editor for iOS we originally reviewed here and here, is adding support for iOS 11's document browser with version 2.1, launching today on the App Store. After testing a beta of this update for the past week, I'm impressed by how the folks at PSPDFKit have been able to fine-tune the document browser to the app's needs.
I use Gladys as my go-to shelf app on the iPhone and iPad, but I'm also a fan of what developer Matthias Gansrigler is doing with Yoink on iOS. Yoink is a popular drag and drop assistant for macOS that launched earlier this year on iOS with an iPad app that, like many others, took advantage of the drag and drop APIs in iOS 11 to offer a mix of a shelf app and clipboard manager.
For a radically redesigned iPhone launching on the tenth anniversary of the first model, it seems reasonable to lead a review of the device with a retrospective on the original iPhone and how, over the course of a decade, its vision matured into the iPhone X. But today, I want to begin with the iPhone 4.
Last weekend Apple issued an update to iOS 11 that fixed a bug that could cause an endless loop of crashes if certain notifications were received by a user. Version 11.2 of iOS also set the stage for the rollout of Apple Pay Cash, Apple’s peer-to-peer money transfer service that’s built into the Messages app.
Apple Pay Cash is currently a US-only service that lets users send each other cash via iMessages. An Apple Pay button will appear in the app and sticker tray of Messages on any Apple Pay-compatible iPhone or iPad. The service, which debuted at WWDC in June and was previously available only to beta testers of iOS 11.2, includes integration with Siri. Messages also automatically suggests using Apple Pay Cash if money is mentioned in a text message.
If the service is tied to a debit card, there is no fee to send money to someone. However, users who use a credit card will be charged a 3% fee. There is also a $3000 limit on individual transactions and a $10,000 limit on sending or receiving funds within a seven-day period.
Today in an unusual weekend launch, Apple released iOS 11.2 to the public. The hallmark feature for US users is Apple Pay for iMessage, but that service reportedly won’t go live until at least Monday. The reason the update launched today is that current versions of iOS contains a bug that may crash springboard on December 2nd – as users all over the world are now discovering – and 11.2 contains the fix for that bug.
Apple has published a support article where they urge users encountering the issue to follow steps to disable notifications in order to stop the crashes, then update to iOS 11.2 before turning notifications back on.
Besides the bug fix, iOS 11.2 includes the aforementioned Apple Pay for iMessage for US users, new wallpaper options for iPhone X users, and a handful of other minor improvements.
I have a confession: I’m not a big mind map guy. I know Federico uses a mind map for his iOS review each year, and lots of other people love visualizing their thoughts that way too, but mind maps have never really clicked for me – at least not on computers.
Up until recently, whenever I needed to do a brain dump and get my thoughts better organized, I would often turn to pen, paper, and a hand-drawn mind map. It's an odd habit, since I shun paper for digital tools in every other case I can think of. Yet this one holdout remained.
My main problem with digital mind maps is that they have always felt unnatural. When using a traditional computer, moving and clicking via trackpad was cumbersome for me; with a format as creatively freeing as a mind map, it seems especially important to have freeform input methods. Even on devices like the iPad though, while touch input certainly helped remove a barrier, there was still always something missing in my view. Digital mind mapping still wasn't quite right.
MindNode 5 on iOS fixes that.
MindNode has long been one of the premier mind mapping apps for Mac and iOS, and its version 5 is a huge update that, for me at least, centers around two main changes: a streamlined, intuitive user interface, and the adoption of drag and drop support. There's a lot more to this update than those two things, with plenty of goodies that die-hard MindNode fans will appreciate, but for users like me – those dissatisfied with digital mind mapping, or even inexperienced at it altogether – the most important changes are those that make the app more approachable, and the new UI and drag and drop certainly do that.
In a series of updates released this morning on the App Store, Google brought support for two highly anticipated iOS 11 features – iPhone X compatibility and iPad drag and drop – to their Docs, Slides, and Sheets apps.
Not long after the iPhone X was released, there were reports that the screens of the devices became unresponsive when the temperature dropped rapidly. That issue along with ‘an issue that could cause distortion in Live Photos and videos captured with iPhone X’ were fixed in iOS 11.1.2, which was released a short time ago.
iOS 11.1.2 can be downloaded by going to Settings ⇾ General ⇾ Software Update.