I am a self-professed geek (my Twitter name is @gatesheadgeek) and I wear that badge with some pride! For me, then, the recent trend for Apple to release their upcoming major software releases as a Public Beta to help test its bugs and foibles before releasing to the masses is great. I’m not one to wait for things (I was once caught by my father looking for my Christmas presents on the top shelf of his study bookcase for example) and so the Public Beta programme is aimed at people like me. After 4 weeks of use, I feel able to comment on its performance so far.
That tendency for early-adoption comes with quite a price however and that is quite clear with the iOS11 Public Beta which I have installed on my iPad Mini. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and the improvements are enough to make me stick through it despite all the bugs. Last year I installed the beta on my iPhone but that caused a few problems with daily use and in any case the iOS11 features for the iPad do transform it as a device and make the problems of the beta bearable.
First the positives:
- The new app switcher on the iPad truly changes the device. Not only does the dock at the bottom of the screen become dynamic and show the last 3 apps used – for quick return when required – but a quick swipe up shows all the open apps’ screens alongside the redesigned control centre pane for access to device controls.
- The control centre itself is redesigned and can be partially configured to include or exclude settings according to a user’s preferences. An Android user might scoff at the lack of true customising available but it certainly makes the control centre more useful
- iOS11 on iPad features a file manager – this has long been a feature requested by users (since iPad was first released)
These positives are however balanced by the annoyance of the bugs which detract from the user experience. These include the iPad being slow to change screen orientation when the device is rotated and the icons in the revised dock not showing correctly.
We are now on the second major release of the iOS11 software and the majority of the bugs are now fixed. The software is working well and I am still pleased with the extra functionality offered by iOS11.
The only promised feature that we’re still awaiting is the iCloud Messages feature that will allow messages to be stored in iCloud to free up space on the devices. This feature also means that messages deleted on one device will disappear from others logged into the same device.
iOS 11.2 is expected to bring Apple Pay Cash to users in the US but there’s no word on when this might be available in the UK. The feature will be useful for transferring cash between friends & family.
May 2018 Update
The Messages in iCloud feature was finally released to the public and will hopefully reduce the storage required for messages on individual devices.