Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:
Apple today sent out a notice to developers letting them know that starting in April of 2018, all new apps submitted to the App Store must be built using the iOS 11 SDK, which is included in Xcode 9 or later.
Furthermore, Apple says that all new apps designed for the iPhone, including universal apps, must support the iPhone X's Super Retina display.
"Must be built", unfortunately, doesn't mean apps have to support new features like drag and drop. Speaking of which, I don't think supporting the native resolution of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a requirement yet, and the device launched in November 2015.
I first covered FileBrowser in an iPad Diaries column from January about finding a replacement for Transmit on iOS. As I noted in the story, FileBrowser didn't have the prettiest interface (to be fair, I still have to find a file manager that looks as nice as Transmit), but it offered superior integration with iOS 11 features such as drag and drop and Files.
What FileBrowser gets right is support for iOS 11's drag and drop and Files app. With drag and drop, you can import items into FileBrowser (and thus upload them to any configured location) as well as export files from a server you're browsing in FileBrowser. The app supports multi-item drag and drop so you can pick up multiple files in a single drag session and drop them into another iPad app, and it correctly implements lazy delivery (asynchronous transfers) for large files. For instance, I was able to drag a .aif song (30 MB) and a .zip archive (160 MB) from FileBrowser and drop them into Gladys and, while it took a few seconds (particularly for the 160 MB file), it worked just fine; as the file was being copied after I let go of it, I could continue using Gladys as normal.
Something else I should have noted: the FileBrowser team is extremely receptive to criticism and new ideas. Over the past few weeks, I've been testing an updated version of FileBrowser (in the Business flavor) that addresses several limitations I covered last month.
At the end of last year in my annual Must-Have Apps roundup, I covered lire, an RSS client for iPhone and iPad that, despite having been around for several years, had flown under my radar until its iOS 11 update.
I settled on lire, an RSS reader that's been around for years and that never grabbed my attention before. lire has been fully redesigned for iOS 11, taking advantage of Apple's large title design style to neatly indicate different folders and sections. In addition to a clean design that feels good on the iPhone X and iPad Pro, lire has two peculiarities: it supports all the most popular RSS services (including Inoreader) and it comes with its own text extraction tool to load the full text of truncated stories. The full-text option can be enabled on a per-site basis, and it works well in combination with caching for read articles. lire looks native to iOS in a way that the official apps by Inoreader, NewsBlur, and Feedly don't, and it's actively supported by its developer with frequent updates.
I've been using lire in combination with Inoreader since November; four months later, I still haven't found any other RSS reader that mixes iOS 11's aesthetic with support for all the most popular RSS services. Unlike other apps, lire looks native to iOS 11 and it lets you choose the sync service you prefer. Plus, the ability to load specific websites in full-text mode and a pure black theme make lire a fantastic reading experience on the iPhone X as well.
With today's 3.0.32 update, developer Kunal Sood has brought deep integration with iOS 11's drag and drop to lire, shipping one of the best implementations of the feature on both the iPhone and iPad. Which isn't surprising considering that lire's drag and drop enhancements have been directly inspired by Bear – already a terrific example of what developers can build with drag and drop in iOS 11.
Apple's Ricky Mondello has a great thread on some of the improvements for users and web developers coming to the next version of Safari, which is available in today's betas of iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4.
Among the highlights: animated GIFs can be replaced with silent videos; Intelligent Tracking Prevention is getting even smarter; Safari Reader has an improved parser and support for link blogs; Password AutoFill for Apps, which debuted with iOS 11, now works in web views inside apps. If you're on the iOS 11.3 beta, you can try the improved Reader on this very post. As for GIFs, here at MacStories we already replaced them with silent .mp4 files loaded via native auto-play (see one in action here), but we're considering adding support for video content in
<img> tags as well. I'm also glad to see Apple expanding support for modern web app technologies including Service Workers and Web App Manifest.
You can find the full documentation for Safari 11.1 on Apple's website here.
In a press release, Apple today announced iOS 11.3, the third major update to iOS 11 set to be released in beta for developers later today, and launching to the general public this Spring. iOS 11.3 will improve upon iOS 11 and features that debuted alongside the iPhone X with new Animoji, a major upgrade to ARKit, the ability to store health records in the Health app, plus other improvements for built-in system apps.
Today Apple released the latest version of iOS, 11.2.5, which includes compatibility with Apple's upcoming HomePod, arriving February 9. Today's update also brings new playback controls for external audio sources, a fix for the recently discovered "chaiOS" Messages bug, and various other bug fixes and improvements.
Besides adding compatibility with HomePod, the primary user-facing feature of today's release is a new set of controls for audio playback on external devices. When viewing Control Center on your iPhone or iPad, if you open the expanded audio playback tile (either by tapping the signal icon in the top-right corner, or by using 3D Touch or a long press), compatible external audio sources now display as separate UI tiles underneath the main audio tile. As seen above, the Apple TV is a supported audio device. Opening one of the additional audio tiles allows you to control playback on an external device while having separate playback controls from what's playing on your iOS device. In my testing, I could set an album in Apple Music to play on my Apple TV while listening to a podcast in Apple Podcasts on my iPhone.
Apple also mentions in the 11.2.5 release notes that Siri can now read the news by being asked, "Play the news." This feature actually became available recently to users running 11.2.2, but it has not previously been highlighted in iOS release notes. U.S. users can choose from four news sources – NPR, CNN, Fox News, and the Washington Post – which play their daily news podcasts upon your request. You can also ask for news specific to Sports, Business, and Music.
Amid the various bug fixes included in iOS 11.2.5 is one pertaining specifically to Messages. Discovered last week, the "chaiOS" bug would cause your iOS device to freeze or crash if you received a certain string of text in an iMessage. The bug was particularly dangerous because it required no user interaction to affect a device; once you received the text, your device would begin having problems.
iOS 11.2.5 is joined today by companion releases on Apple's other major platforms, including tvOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and macOS 10.13.3.
Rene Ritchie shared a comparison of iOS adoption rates over the years (starting with iOS 7 in January 2014) and, so far, iOS 11 has the lowest adoption of all major updates, four months after their public release.
Looking at the numbers, you can see a decline in the transition from iOS 7 to 8 (iOS 7's troubled rollout affected millions of users for months), a stabilization with iOS 9 and iOS 10, and another decrease with iOS 11 this year.
I see two potential reasons for this. With iOS 11's 32-bit cut-off, it's very likely that a good percentage of users who would have updated simply couldn't because they were on older hardware not supported by iOS 11. More importantly though, the widespread perception that software updates make Apple devices slower isn't helping adoption rates. This time, Apple itself had to confirm that iOS 11 did, in fact, throttle iPhone performance to compensate for aging batteries (a perfectly fine motivation, terribly communicated to customers from a software design and PR perspective).
A couple of weeks ago in our 2018 Apple predictions episode on Connected, I mentioned that I believe iOS 12 will have a focus on speed and performance as a tentpole feature, specifically called out at WWDC as an important effort by Apple's engineering teams. This is just my personal theory, but I don't think new emoji and Animoji will be enough to convince reluctant users to update their iPhones later this year. If Apple wants to counter the narrative surrounding iOS 11 and see these adoption rates pick up again, I think they'll have to demonstrate – not merely promise – that their next software update will have practical, tangible benefits on the everyday usage of an iOS device.
Apple's iOS Security guide is one of the most fascinating technical documents I've read in recent years. While the topics are intricate, they're presented clearly in readable English. Earlier this week, the document was updated with new information on the latest additions to the iOS ecosystem – including Face ID, Apple Pay Cash, and Password AutoFill. There are some interesting details I didn't know in each section.
On Face ID:
Facial matching is performed within the Secure Enclave using neural networks trained specifically for that purpose. We developed the facial matching neural networks using over a billion images, including IR and depth images collected in studies conducted with the participants’ informed consent. Apple worked with participants from around the world to include a representative group of people accounting for gender, age, ethnicity, and other factors. The studies were augmented as needed to provide a high degree of accuracy for a diverse range of users. Face ID is designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses, and many sunglasses. Furthermore, it’s designed to work indoors, outdoors, and even in total darkness. An additional neural network that’s trained to spot and resist spoofing defends against attempts to unlock your iPhone X with photos or masks.
On Apple Pay Cash, which details the new 'Apple Payments Inc.' subsidiary:
When you set up Apple Pay Cash, the same information as when you add a credit or debit card may be shared with our partner bank Green Dot Bank and with Apple Payments Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary created to protect your privacy by storing and processing information separately from the rest of Apple and in a way that the rest of Apple doesn’t know. This information is only used for troubleshooting, fraud prevention, and regulatory purposes.
Apple Payments Inc. will store and may use your transaction data for troubleshooting, fraud prevention, and regulatory purposes once a transaction is completed. The rest of Apple doesn’t know who you sent money to, received money from, or where you made a purchase with your Apple Pay Cash card.
To read more, get the full PDF here and check out the document revision history for January 2018.
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.