After beta testing the update since January, Apple today is rolling out iOS 11.3 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The new version has a slew of additions, including new Animoji characters for the iPhone X, improved ARKit for more advanced augmented reality, and the ability to turn off processor throttling for iPhones with aging batteries inside.
That last feature is the result of a hailstorm of criticism and bad press that Apple faced when it was discovered that iOS automatically slows down peak processor performance in some iPhones to prevent unexpected shutdowns.
What are the new features?
Four all-new Animoji bring iPhone X users’ expressions to life as a lion, bear, dragon or skull. The A11 Bionic chip and TrueDepth camera give users the ability to record and send Animoji messages (and even create Animoji karaoke videos) using their voice and more than 50 different facial muscle movements.
New AR World
The introduction of ARKit with iOS 11 put augmented reality into the hands of hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, making iOS the world’s biggest AR platform. With iOS 11.3, apps can now deliver AR experiences that use vertical surfaces like walls and doors, in addition to horizontal surfaces like tables and chairs, and more accurately map to irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables.
Using advanced computer vision techniques to find and recognize the position of 2D images such as signs, posters and artwork, ARKit can integrate these real world images into AR experiences such as filling a museum with interactive exhibits or bringing a movie poster to life. The view of the real world through the camera now has 50 percent greater resolution and supports auto-focus for an even sharper perspective.
Apple also announced a Business Chat feature in iOS 11.3, which enables users to communicate directly with businesses such as Lowe’s, Discover, Hilton and Wells Fargo from within the Messages app. In my opinion, this feature looks better designed than some of the other “bots” I have seen.
The Business Chat feature makes it easy to have a conversation with a service representative, schedule appointments or make purchases using Apple Pay from within the Messages app.
Business Chat does not share your contact information with the businesses. And users can stop chatting with the businesses at any time.
The Health Records
The new Health Records feature helps patients of more than 40 health systems including Duke, NYU Langone, Stanford and Yale view their medical records from multiple institutions right from their iPhone. With the inclusion of these new institutions, patients have greater access to their medical information including lab results, medications, conditions and more. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with a passcode.
iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 introduce updated data and privacy information that makes it easier than ever for users to understand how their personal data may be used. A new privacy icon and detailed privacy information will appear whenever Apple asks for access to personal information to enable features, secure Apple services or personalize an iOS experience.
Battery & Performance
iOS 11.3 adds new features to show battery health of an iPhone and recommend if a battery needs to be serviced. These can be found in Settings -> Battery and are available for iPhone 6 and later.
Additionally, users can now see if the power management feature that dynamically manages maximum performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns, first introduced in iOS 10.2.1, is on and can choose to turn it off. This feature can be found in Settings -> Battery and is available for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.