iOS 11 Beta 3 – Diving in

iOS 11 Beta 3 – I couldn’t resist it.

It seems to be a fairly simple procedure to register for the Apple beta program to get iOS 11 Beta 3. This is where you can try out upcoming versions of the operating system. I have done it once before and at the end of it I wished I hadn’t. I lost a couple of days of data in an application even though I had done everything right and was able to go back to the previous version of the operating system. There is a certain amount of time involved because it takes time to set up the device with the new operating system. There is the same amount of time required if you need to go back to the previous version. The reason I have succumbed to the lure of iOS 11 beta is because of the huge changes to the iPad version. I’m particularly interested in the way the new dock works at the bottom of the screen. I can’t wait to do the drag and drop between applications when I’m working in split screen mode. These things are just too good to wait for.

Making the backups of my iPad Ready for iOS 11 Beta 3

I use the application iMazing to create backups of my iPad and iPhone. I’m happy this will give me a really good backup if I need to go back in time with my iPad. This being a little more critical than a normal backup and restore operation I’m going for a backup on iTunes as well. As I’m writing this the iTunes application is backing up my iPad and when it’s finished I’ll follow the instructions and archive the backup.

Using iMazing for Backup

It’s important to note that any backup I make during the period while running iOS 11 beta will be no good to me if I want to go back to 10.3.3. I will have no choice but to go back to the last backup made before moving on to iOS 11 Beta 3. It only makes sense! My plan is to use the hell out of the iPad in the first day or two of having installed iOS 11 beta. This is so I can quickly see where the problems are, if there are any. I have heard from other users who’ve tried out the public beta there are not too many problems. Small problems can be niggly and annoying and I have specifically ignored previous beta versions after seeing people complaining of bricked devices.

The iOS 11 beta I’m going for is the public version beta three. If I was a registered Apple developer I could have got my hands on version 4. It’s probably more likely there would be bigger problems to deal with in a developer version. I think Apple is most likely to give the public a slightly sanitised beta version to play with. There are still certainly bugs and one or two annoyances, that’s a given with beta software. Those of us without the patience to wait for the final version to be released in autumn are well aware of the problems of playing with beta software. Fingers can get burned!

Performing the upgrade to iOS 11 beta 3

So after I did the double backup I went to the Apple beta webpage. I registered my device by downloading a profile to my iPad. Obviously I had to do this step from my iPad. I then had to do a restart of the iPad so the system knew of this new profile. The next step is to go to the settings application and go to general and look for a system update. It always seems to take a little while for the system to recognise there is an update available. Then it’s just a case of waiting for it to be downloaded and installed. It was 1.76 GB to download and while that was happening I went for a swim in the swimming pool. So I got back refreshed and ready for the next stage. As I’m writing this part here I’m waiting for the installation process to take place. I expect it to take between 10 and 20 minutes before I can see what’s new with iOS 11 beta 3 – I can hardly wait!

First impressions of iOS 11 beta 3

At first look it doesn’t look hugely different. There is of course the new dock of applications at the bottom of the screen. It’s really useful to be able to hold more applications in this dock area than was possible before. So the first thing to try was putting a few extra applications into the dock. It looks like it’s going to fill up very quickly, but then as you put more icons in there they get smaller and I’ve got thirteen in there right now. To the right side of the dock there is an area which at the moment is showing three icons and I still have to work out why they are separated.

The new dock in iOS 11

iOS 11 Beta 3

The next thing to try is to swipe up from the bottom of the screen and see the control centre/application changer. It’s easy to scroll through applications which you’ve been using and you can move out of this area by swiping them up to the top of the screen. If you’ve created a split screen with two applications you’ll see these two applications available at a single touch.

Multitasking with Split Screen

On one side of the screen I have Airmail 3 and to the right-hand side I have Twitterific. It was also easy enough to change the pairing by grabbing an application from the dock at the bottom of screen and replacing Airmail with the Apple Photos application. When you first drag a second application to create the split screen view, the application slides over the top of the first application. Drag down from the top in the second application to make it take up a section of the screen. This pushes the other application over to the other side and you can split it half and half or seventy thirty, either to the left or to the right.

Drag-and-Drop in iOS 11 Beta 3

So I put Airmail 3 on the left and Apple Notes to the right. It was sweet to take a photo from one of my emails and simply drag it and drop it into the Notes application. I then found an email which I could select some text to drag and drop that into the note also. Very useful indeed! Just to keep the dragging and dropping going, I took some selected text in the Notes application and put that into Drafts. I’ve also moved photos from the Photos app and it’s kind of phenomenal to have these abilities after being without it for such a long time. It’s going to be as big a change as when cut, copy and paste was introduced to iOS way back when. I have to say – I’m just loving drag and drop in iOS 11 beta.

I Dragged and I Dropped

The Files App in iOS 11 beta 3

Within the Files application you have two views, list view and an icon view which gives you a small preview of what is in the file. In the browser view of the Files application on my iPad, on the left-hand side I can see a list of locations. Within this list there is Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, PDF Expert, Transmit, iCloud Drive, Documents (the application from Readdle), On My iPad and Recently Deleted. There is a section called Favourites, but I haven’t worked out yet how to get either locations or documents into the Favourites section. Underneath that there is my long list of tags. To tag a document I only have to move the doc on top of the tag in the list for it to receive that tag. If you want to tag it move with more than one tag drag the document over more than one time. The tags you add to the document are Apple systemwide so if you look at the same file in iCloud drive on your Mac you’ll see the same tags. It’s been a long time coming for this tagging to arrive on iOS. Using tags is a fantastic way to search for specific groups of files.

It’s possible to open files from any of your locations. When I open text files they open automatically by Byword. From there I could export to HTML, PDF or email and also share out to any number of applications I have on the iPad. You may also choose the select button to grab one or a number of files. When you have them selected you can then move them, duplicate, delete them or share. When you choose to share at the top of the share pop up you’ll see the tags assigned to the file and add more tags if you wish. It will be a feasible scenario to take files and send them off to the Workflow application, Messages or any other application you have installed. AirDrop is also available. There are plenty of opportunities to send data to wherever you need it to go to.

Markup of PDFs and also using the Notes app

I get the feeling that the Files application is still a work in progress as you expect from a beta version. It would be nice to have the ability to drag tags onto files as well as the other way round. I also wonder if it’s going to be possible to do some dragging and dropping of files from one location to another. If you open up a PDF it opens up into a PDF viewer within the Files app and you have some fairly decent markup facilities. You have most of the options available in the Notes application, the ruler is not included. On the other hand, you do have the option to add text, a signature, a magnifier as well as four different shapes. You have squares, circles, speech bubbles and arrows. I thought that when using the selection tool I’d be able to resize what I had selected. It only allows you to move items. I expect when it comes round to the final version there will be parity of tools whether you are doing the markup in the Files application or working directly within Notes. In any case, there are some interesting ways of working with the Files application.

Thoughts so far on iOS 11

Even though it’s still early days or even early hours as I’ve only had a short amount of time working with the new operating system I’m fairly positive so far. I haven’t had any severe crashes which is always a good thing. The iPad hasn’t been bricked by the new software. Everything is more stable than I thought it might be.

As things stand at the moment I’ll be keeping iOS 11 on my iPad Pro because I really like the drag-and-drop between applications in the split screen mode. There are definitely productivity benefits in having two applications side-by-side. I like how I can save pairs of applications together and return to it from the control view. Each application can only be used once in these pairings though. That’s not too much of a problem because it’s easy to swap out one application for another as needed. The dock which sits at the bottom of the screen which can be accessed even when not looking at the home screen is pretty cool. Grabbing an application to float either to the left or the right over the application already running is sweet. Doing a long stroke upwards from the bottom of screen goes into the control centre in order to open up background open applications. There are the basic controls for brightness and volume, access to the camera, the clock and music as well as access to my home automation accessory controls. It’s easy for me to switch on and off my lights and see if the garage door is closed or not.

Loving iOS 11 Beta 3

I give a big thumbs up to iOS 11 on the iPad. I’m not brave enough to put it on to my iPhone and in any case changes are not so great as on this iPad version. I certainly don’t like the idea of going back to iOS 10 after experiencing the goodness in iOS 11 beta 3.