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iOS 11: New features, how to update and compatibility with older Apple devices

Apple's iOS 11 update has arrived, adding some seriously smart new features to your iPhone and iPad. Here's all you need to know about iOS 11, including the biggest changes, some nifty hidden features, which devices are supported and how to download it to your Apple device right now.

If you're rocking an Apple phone or tablet, chances are you can upgrade it to iOS 11 right now. Even if you don't know what on earth iOS actually is, this is an update well worth doing. And we'll explain exactly why here.

Designed to replace the older iOS 10, Apple's software upgrade is absolutely stuffed with dozens of new features and worthy updates to your iPhone or iPad apps. Here we'll cover exactly what iOS 11 is, reveal the best improvements and some of those more secret changes. We'll also reveal which older Apple devices are compatible with this new version of iOS and how to update your iPhone or iPad.

Head to our iOS hub and iPhone hub for all you need to know about 

What is iOS?

iOS is the mobile operating system that runs on Apple’s mobile devices (in other words, iPhones and iPads).

If you're not sure what an operating system is, it's basically the most important software, responsible for all kinds of stuff. iOS allows you to download and use apps, for instance. It manages your phone's storage and memory, protects your data and does plenty more besides. Without the OS, your shiny Apple phone or tablet would basically just be a very expensive paperweight.

If you want to know more about Apple's mobile OS, check out our complete guide to iOS. All of your questions will be answered there.

Read next: What will Apple launch later in 2017?

What is new in iOS 11?

Apple has packed iOS 11 with all kinds of great new features. The new iPad dock, for instance, is a great way to access your favourite apps in an instant, while AirPlay 2 allows for multi-room speaker support, so you can blast your tunes all around your home. 

Safety comes first with the new iOS update too. For instance, the Do Not Disturb Driving feature could potentially save lives by preventing distractions when behind the wheel. There's even some bonus SOS functionality, to contact emergency services quickly and easily.

Lots of existing features and apps have been upgraded in iOS 11 too. For example, Siri has been improved, the Control Center has been completely redesigned, Apple Pay is much easier to use and even the camera software has been overhauled.

Head over to our best iOS 11 features round-up for a complete breakdown of those new bits.

When will iOS 11 be released?

Existing iPhones and iPads received the option to update to iOS 11 in September 2017. This coincided with the global release of the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which came with iOS 11 pre-installed.

How do I update my iPhone or iPad to iOS 11?

Your iPhone or iPad regularly checks online for any waiting updates, all on its own. If an update is found, a message will pop up on-screen to tell you so. You can then hit 'download and install' to get the update.

If you want to check manually, just head to the settings menu on your iOS device. From here tap General, followed by Software Update. Your iPhone or iPad will search for the iOS 11 update and tell you if Apple has released it yet.

Will my iOS device support iOS 11?

Not all iPhone and iPads will run iOS 11, sadly. Older handsets and devices will struggle to cope with the latest software, so Apple has released a compatibility list to show exactly who should and who shouldn't install this update.

Will my iPhone be compatible with iOS 11?

Apple reckons that every iPhone from the iPhone 5s onwards can run iOS 11 successfully. Here's the full list of compatible handsets:

  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s

Will my iPad be compatible with iOS 11?

Apple says that the new iPad, both iPad Air models and all of the iPad Pro models can run iOS 11. Additionally, all of the Mini models can handle the latest iOS, with the exception of the original. The full list of compatible iPads with iOS 11 is below:

  • 12.9‑inch iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation)
  • 10.5‑inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7‑inch iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad Mini 4
  • iPad Mini 3
  • iPad Mini 2

Okay, I've updated my iPhone to iOS 11. What now?

Once you've updated to the latest version, you'll probably want to know all about the new features, including those little tweaks that Apple has included to make life easier.

Luckily we have you covered. Head over to our in-depth iPhone tips and tricks guide and you'll see our coverage of the new bits, including the handy keyboard tweaks, updated Control Center, new Apple Pay features, AirPlay 2 functionality and plenty more besides.

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