iOS 11 is finally here: Best features, how to download and more

iOS 11 is now available. Here's what you need to know.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
5 min read

iOS 11 is now available.

Nowadays, Apple releases a beta version of iOS months ahead of its official release. So, we've already been playing with iOS and compiling how-tos so you can get started, too. 

Watch this: iOS 11 transforms the iPad

Editors' note: This post was originally published on June 26, 2017, and continues to be updated with new iOS 11 news and features.

What's the release date?

Sept. 19. at 10 a.m. PT. Here's how to download and install iOS 11.

What are its best new features?

We're compiling guides for iOS 11's best features (see list below), but here's a recap of the most exciting things coming to your iPhone:

How do I download iOS 11 on Sept. 19?

Downloading iOS 11 should be pretty straightforward. You'll get a notification letting you know there's an update available. At that time, you'll want to be on Wi-Fi and connected to power, so that your phone doesn't die downloading the large install file. 

Some years, it's taken us a long time to download the new version of iOS, likely because so many people are downloading the new software. Prepare to spend what could be an hour downloading the file and staying connected to power. 

iOS 11 basics

25 features that will make you want to upgrade to iOS 11

See all photos

Hidden features galore. Apple didn't announce every single feature added to iOS 11 at its big event at WWDC in June (above). That's OK -- we started digging through it a short time later. Here, take a look at what Apple didn't tell you about iOS 11.

QR Codes FTW. Those somewhat annoying codes aren't going anywhere, so Apple added a QR Code reader to iOS 11. Here's where to find it

Your iPad will change -- a lot. A new dock, drag-and-drop, multi-tasking and more. iOS 11 will totally change your iPad

Slight tweaks to Messages. A new iMessage app drawer and a couple of screen effects have been added to the app. Here's the Messages rundown

Notification Center is dead, long live the Lock Screen. The central hub on iOS 11 where you can find all of your alerts and notifications is now the Lock Screen. Not only does it look different, but it has a few new quirks to it as well. Here's what you need to know.

Drastic changes are coming. At first glance, it's going to seem like Apple didn't change a lot when it comes to the look and feel of iOS 11 -- but it did. In fact, there are seven drastic changes coming to your iPhone with iOS 11

Text with Siri. It's not always possible to have a voice conversation with Siri. While it was added as an accessibility feature, the ability to type to Siri is useful for everyone.  

Keep your location private. With iOS 11, you now have the control of just how often an app can access your location information -- regardless of what options the developer has added to the app. You'll be prompted the first time you launch an app that always tracks you, and presented with an option to change its permissions

Forget your Wi-Fi password. The next time a friend wants to connect to your Wi-Fi network, you can approve the request directly on your iOS 11 device without having to remember or hand over the password. It's slick.  

Forget app passwords, too. Apple has expanded its iCloud Keychain password manager beyond Safari. Now you can use it to log into apps as well as websites

SOS. An Emergency SOS feature will use your iPhone to call for help after five quick presses of the wake button. Not only does it call for help, but it disables Touch ID -- which can be important. Here's why

Take control

Make Control Center your own. The three-panel Control Center from iOS 10 is gone. With iOS 11 you can add or remove shortcuts you don't use, along with a few hidden Control Center features you're sure to love

AirPods get smarter. Instead of the lone option to activate Siri with a double-tap on either AirPod earbud, starting with iOS 11 you can control the specific function each AirPod will take

Free up storage space. Storage space on a mobile device is always at a premium, especially if you're using a 16GB phone. Apple is making iOS smart enough to proactively get rid of unused apps, and providing tips to free up space with a tap. 

Stay safe while driving. Your iPhone can now tell when you're in a car, and in turn it will automatically enable a new feautre called Do Not Disturb While Driving. Any incoming text alerts will be stopped, keeping your eyes on the road. 

Go dark. There's a new dark mode hidden in the Settings app for iOS users. It's not designed for daily use, but it can come in handy in dark environments. Here's what you need to know

Get creative

Live Photos get lively. Creating a quick animation out of a Live Photo is now possible with a couple of taps. The end result is fun, if not impressive

Screenshots on steroids. A new screenshot tool in iOS 11 makes it easy to capture what's on your screen, edit, crop or add your signature and then share it and delete it. It's awesome

But screenshots are so 2016. With a quick tap of a button, you can now record your iOS device's screen. This is particularly handy for creating how-to guides -- perhaps you want to show off how to beat the last level of Monument Valley 2. What are you waiting for? Set it up.

Scan documents in the Notes app. Yup, Apple added a document scanner to the Notes app on iOS 11. Launch the app, select scan document and wait for it to do its magic.  

The Notes app is totally new. In addition to scanning documents, the Notes app is full of other features. Here's the full list

All your files in one place. The iCloud Drive app has been replaced by a new Files app. It's also where you can find Box, Dropbox and similar services. We have some tips for getting the most out of it

Don't forget the iPad

Apple's tablet is like a brand-new device after installing the new software. Here are 7 tips and tricks for navigating the iPad on iOS 11.

It's more than iOS

Apple TV joins the fun. The public beta of its TVOS 11 software adds some a few tweaks and new features, including a dark mode and syncing of home screen layout between multiple Apple TVs. Here's what you need to know to install the TVOS 11 beta.