Apple has released a beta of the next version of iOS – v11.3 – to developers today, and listed a bunch of new features that the update will bring. Here are the ones worth looking out for.
The first is a fix for its performance throttling, which Apple was called out for last month. Essentially, if the battery in your iOS device is aging, the operating system would automatically slow performance down; Apple explained this was a measure to prevent unexpected reboots and freezes.
With iOS 11.3 on an iPhone 6 or newer, you’ll be able to see detailed battery health information in Settings, as well as turn off this automatic performance throttling. The company doesn’t recommend it, but it’s good to have control over that functionality (which should have been included earlier anyway).
Next, Business Chat will let you message businesses directly for things like support, scheduling appointments, and paying for purchases with Apple Pay. The company announced it at last year’s WWDC event, and is trialing it with the likes of Lowe’s, Discover, Hilton, and Wells Fargo.
That’s similar to WhatsApp’s new service – but with the added benefit of being able to make payments. But Apple will need to sign up enough companies onto its platform if it really wants people to use the new feature, so we’ll probably have to give it a few months before judging how useful Business Chat can be.
Finally, the Health app will now let you view your personal health records, sourced from hospitals and clinics that you’ve visited. You’ll also receive notifications for their lab results, medications, and conditions from these facilities, and lock the data with a passcode.
There are some smaller niceties as well, like new animoji, ad-free music videos in Apple Music, and better mapping of walls and irregularly shaped surfaces, such as circular tables, in ARKit for improved augmented reality experiences.
The developer beta is available to folks who have signed up to Apple’s paid program, which costs $99 a year; you can sign up for that here.
Alternatively, you can hold out a bit for the public beta which should launch soon, and get on that for free by signing up to the company’s Beta Software Program. When the public version becomes available, you’ll be able to download it from the same site. Of course, you’ll want to first back up your data before trying this out.
If you’d rather not bother with all that fuss, you can simply wait for spring, when the new version will arrive as an over-the-air update on your device.