Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Apple previews iOS 11.3, including Messages in iCloud and more →

Hot on the heels of iOS 11.2.5’s release yesterday, Apple previewed major features for the next major version of iOS this morning: iOS 11.3.


  • New AR Experiences. In addition to horizontal surfaces like tables and chairs, ARKit can now recognize and place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls and doors, and can more accurately map irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables.
  • New Animoji. 1 iOS 11.3 introduces four new Animoji, giving iPhone X users the ability to express themselves as a lion, bear, dragon or skull.
  • Business Chat. Business Chat is a new way for users to communicate directly with businesses right within Messages. This feature will launch in Beta with the public availability of iOS 11.3 this spring, with the support of select businesses including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo.
  • Batteries and Performance. iOS 11.3 adds new features to show battery health and recommend if a battery needs to be serviced. These can be found in Settings -> Battery and are available for iPhone 6 and later.
  • Health Records in Health App. Patients from participating medical institutions will have information from various institutions organized into one view and receive regular notifications for their lab results, medications, conditions and more.
  • HomeKit software authentication. HomeKit software authentication provides a great new way for developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories while protecting privacy and security.

Pretty cool stuff. There are a couple more features, so check out the preview page.

I’m most excited about the ARKit upgrades. Being able to use AR on vertical surfaces is a no-brainer for further implementations. Glad to see Apple added it.

Also, being in Healthcare IT, implementing Health Records in the Health app must be no easy feat. I can’t wait for the day when this is the norm for all healthcare systems.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) missing from this list is a feature originally intended to launch with iOS 11.0 — Messages in iCloud. Similar to iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library, Messages in iCloud stores your messages in iCloud, which are then retrieved by your Apple devices (instead of the awful syncing mechanism in place now). Apple said they needed more time to perfect the feature, so it was removed from early iOS 11 betas.

As it turns out, the first iOS 11.3 developer beta went live just a few minutes ago, and Federico Viticci discovered Messages in iCloud is indeed included. Upon discovery, I was a little surprised Apple didn’t include this on their preview page. Either they still aren’t confident in their ability to perfect the feature for iOS 11.3, or realized it’s not a super-sexy feature to market to the masses like … Animoji. I’m hoping its the latter.

  1. Remember Animoji?