Apple has released iOS 11.3, which adds new battery health features, a beta of the promised Business Chat service, a new music video section in Apple Music, and a variety of new features in Safari.
Most notable among those for people with older iPhones are the features that let you view and manage battery health on your devices. Apple made these changes in response to the controversy over the company throttling performance on older iPhones to protect against unexpected shutdowns.
Battery Management and Performance
The main feature is the new Battery Health screen on the iPhone, which you can find in Settings > Battery > Battery Health. For some reason, Apple claims that this seemingly simple feature is in beta. The Battery Health screen just shows you the maximum capacity of your iPhone battery, as a percentage, and whether your iPhone is working at peak performance. The screen will also recommend if your battery should be replaced.
Apple didn’t leave the iPad out entirely, in terms of battery changes. iOS 11.3 offers a new iPad charge management feature that maintains the iPad’s battery health even when it’s connected to power for long periods of time.
Also in beta is the promised Business Chat feature. What’s with all the beta features — is Apple just trying to signal that “it might not work right.”?
With Business Chat, you’ll be able to use Messages to talk with participating companies and get help. If a firm is signed up for Business Chat, you’ll see that information in its listing in Maps, Safari, and Spotlight.
Initial launch partners are 1-800-Flowers, Ameritrade, Apple (obviously), Discover, Hilton, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, Newegg, and Wells Fargo.
Music Videos in Apple Music
Video (just general video, not the Video app) will play a larger role in Apple Music, presumably paving the way for expanded offerings in that space. Music videos are featured alongside songs, Music’s video player now more closely resembles its song player, and you can create playlists of music videos.
If you’re an iPhone X owner with nothing better to do, there are four new animojis available in the Messages app: lion, dragon, skull, and bear. Personally, I can’t use any animoji because my beard whiskers make them look like they’re having a seizure. And because it would be a career-limiting move.
Apple is especially proud of ARKit 1.5, which is also included with iOS 11.3. The major improvement to Apple’s augmented reality framework is that developers can now place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls (imagine a virtual game of racquetball) and doors.
ARKit can now also detect images like movie posters and artwork, and it supports a higher resolution real-world view. These changes are only really of interest to developers, who will be able to produce better AR apps, but Apple presumably wants to tell regular users about the changes to pressure developers into taking advantage of the features.
In iOS 11.3, a new icon appears when Apple asks for personal data. Tap the icon to see how your data will be used.
Apple beefed up Safari with a hodgepodge of new features:
- Autofill now inserts usernames and passwords only after you select them on Web pages
- Autofill now works in app Web views
- Safari warns you when you interact with password or credit card forms on non-encrypted pages
- Safari now formats shared articles sent via Mail in Reader mode
- Favorites folders now show icons for the contained bookmarks
iOS 11.3 is a big update with many additional changes, most of which are quite small. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:
- The App Store now lets you sort reviews by Most Helpful, Most Favorable, Most Critical, or Most Recent. The Updates tab now contains information about the app version and file size.
- Apple News now puts Top Stories at the top of For You, and there’s a new curated Top Videos section.
- The Health app can now display health records, such as lab results and immunizations, in a consolidated timeline. This feature works with over 40 health systems, including Duke, NYU Langone, Stanford, and Yale. We hope to see Apple bringing more health systems in quickly.
- Podcasts now plays episodes with a single tap, and you can tap Details to learn more about each episode
- Developers can now authenticate HomeKit devices via software, making it possible to add HomeKit support to existing devices that are otherwise not compatible.
- iOS 11.3 has a whopping 27 security fixes!
To see the full list of all the changes, check out Apple’s iOS 11.3 release notes.