In September, Apple released iOS 11 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This operating system offers many new features and accessibility enhancements. As with any new release, Apple has had to address some bugs and has already released updates. It is not possible to address each change, but this article will give an overview of the main features of iOS 11.

Be sure to make a backup of your device before upgrading. Be aware that 32-bit apps will no longer work once iOS 11 is installed (only 64-bit apps will work). 64-bit apps have more processing power.

Check to see which apps on your computer are 32-bit by going to Settings > General > About > Applications. There will be a list of 32-bit apps if any are on your phone. Once iOS 11 is installed, if you open a 32-bit app, you will receive a message that it needs to be updated.

Accessibility Features

In iOS 11, Apple has added some new VoiceOver and low vision features and better braille support.


Some of the new verbosity features are similar to the Mac Verbosity options. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Verbosity.

Punctuation. You can control how much punctuation VoiceOver speaks. The options are: All, Some, and None.

Detect Automatic Text. When this feature is turned on, VoiceOver will attempt to speak any text in a focused item.

Capital Letters. There are now four options when VoiceOver encounters a capital letter. They are: Speak Cap, Play Sound, Change Pitch, and Do Nothing.

Deleting Text. There are four options for what VoiceOver does when you are deleting text. The first option is Delete. If this option is selected, VoiceOver will say the word "Delete" and the name of each letter you delete. I found that after I typed a word, VoiceOver said "Delete" and the word I just typed. The other three options are Play Sound, Change Pitch, and Do Nothing.

Embedded Links. When VoiceOver encounters an embedded link it can Speak, Play a Sound, Change Pitch, or Do Nothing

Table Output. When navigating tables, VoiceOver can speak headers and/or row and column numbers. The buttons for turning these features on and off are directly below the Table Output heading.

Emoji Suffix. This feature is off by default. Turning it on will cause VoiceOver to say "emoji" each time it encounters an emoji.

Media Descriptions. The final control under the Verbosity heading is geared for people who are visually impaired and use closed captioning as well. The user has a choice of Speech, Braille, or Speech and Braille for the closed captions.


You can now change the pitch of whichever VoiceOver voice you have chosen. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech. Flick up or down to select the pitch you want. The next control is a button to turn pitch change on or off. It t is on by default.

Low Vision

Apple has made some enhancements for people who have low vision. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Vision.

Magnifier. Apple has improved the magnifier. It focuses more quickly and is responsive to light and dark.

Display Accommodations. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations. Once this feature is activated, there are some new offerings:

Invert Colors

There are now two ways to invert colors: Smart Invert inverts the colors on the display except for media, images, and some apps that use darker colors. Classic Invert is the standard view when Invert Colors is selected.

Auto Brightness is now in the Display Accommodations section.


The Reader can now be set to launch automatically on a website. This is a good option for websites that contain a lot of information, such as ABC News. VoiceOver will say, "Reader available" if the reader can be used on the website.

The Reader button is in the upper left corner of the screen. Flick up or down until you hear "Automatic Reader view," and select this option. There are three choices: always use the Reader on the specific website, have the Reader on all websites, or Cancel. Should you decide to change your option at a later date, repeat the above procedure. There will be options to stop the Reader from automatically starting on the website.

Type to Siri

You can now type your questions to Siri rather than speaking them. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Siri. The first control is a button labeled "Type to Siri." By default, this button is off. When enabled and you activate Siri, an edit field will appear for typing your query.

Additional Accessibility Information

You can read more about iOS 11 accessibility on Scott Davert's excellent AppleVis blog post, What's New in Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision, and Deaf-Blind Users.


There have been some additions and changes to the settings section.


The Storage section in Settings has been modified. Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. The first item is how much storage you have used and how much is available. Next are recommendations for increasing space on your device.

The first option is Offload Unused Apps. If this feature is enabled, apps that are rarely used will be offloaded to the Cloud. The app's documents and data will still be on your phone. The App's name will still be in its same spot on your phone. If you need to use the app that has been offloaded, select it on your phone and it will automatically download back to your phone.

There are additional recommendations including to review large attachments. Activating this button will bring up a list of any large email attachment you have saved. Next is a list of apps on your phone including how much storage the app is using and the date when it was last used. If the Offload Apps feature is enabled, double tapping on an app will provide two options: Offload App and Delete App. If the app is offloaded and you locate it on your phone, VoiceOver will speak the app's name and say, "in iCloud." Double tapping on the app will redownload it back to your phone.

Accounts & Passwords

A new Accounts & Passwords section has been added to Settings, just above Mail. The first part of this section is Apps and Website Passwords. You will still need to authenticate before access is granted. As in iOS 10, selecting a stored website will reveal the user name and password.

The next option after User Names & Passwords is Accounts. A list of your email accounts is located below this heading. There is also a button to add an account. Selecting an account will display its relevant information and the option to delete it.

Do Not disturb

Apple's new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature can easily be turned off. Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do Not Disturb While Driving under the "Activate" heading. The options are: Automatically, When Connected to Car Bluetooth, and Manually. Select Manually or, if the car you are riding in doesn't have Bluetooth, you can use When Connected to Car Bluetooth.

Emergency SOS

Go to Settings > Emergency SOS. There is a new feature, which previously was available only on the Apple Watch. If you listed emergency contacts in the Health app, they will automatically receive a text message if you contact 911. The message will also include your current location.

iTunes & App Store

There are two settings you might want to use in this section. The first is Video Autoplay. With this feature enabled, any video in the app store will immediately start playing when the app's page loads. This control is a toggle so if it's on, do a one-finger double tap to turn off the feature.

If you don't want to receive notifications from apps asking you to rate them go to In-App Ratings and Reviews and turn the feature off if it is currently on. This control is also a toggle.

TV Provider

iOS 11 has a very convenient feature which previously was only available on Apple TV. It lets you enter your cable or satellite provider's information once. When new iOS TV apps are downloaded to your device, it will no longer be necessary to enter your information on each app. The app needs to support this feature for it to work.

Go to Settings > TV Provider. This is not the same as the TV app. Locate your provider in the table listing and select it. Fill in the necessary information such as user name and password.


The Control Center

The Control Center is now more customizable. Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. The first part of the page has items that can be removed, added, or reordered. Items include Flashlight, Timer, and Calculator. There are additional choices under the heading "More Controls." They include Magnifier, Alarm, Accessibility Shortcut, and Notes. If any options are added to the Control Center, they will appear below the media controls.

The Notification Center

The Notification Center has a new design. Everything is now on one page. Controls for listening to audio content are at the top of the screen. Controls are Rewind, Play/Pause, and Fast Forward. Double tapping on Rewind or Fast Forward will bring you to the previous or next track. Doing a double-tap-and-hold on either of these controls will move backward or forward within the track.

Underneath the media controls is the heading "Earlier Today." There is a button to clear all notifications in the section and you will be prompted to confirm the action. You can also delete each notification individually. Below the button is a list of notifications for the day. Below this is the same configuration for previous days. On any notification, you can flick up to cycle through options including Activate and Delete.

Moving Apps

Apple has changed the process for moving apps and it is now similar to how it was done in iOS 9. Double tap and hold on the app you want to move. When you hear VoiceOver say "Start Editing," flick up or down to either drag the app or activate. Once you locate where the app should go, flick up or down again and there will be options to place the app or add additional apps to drag. Moving more than one app at a time is a new and convenient feature. For example, you can move several apps at the same time into the same folder.

App Store

The App Store has been redesigned. At the bottom of the screen, there are five tabs: Today, Games, Apps, Updates, and Search. When any of the first four tabs is selected, a "My Account" button will appear near the top left of the screen.

Games now has its own tab. In the updates tab, when an app is updated, there will be a description about the update.


Files is a new app from Apple. It appears on iOS devices and Macs.

iCloud Drive is now part of the Files app. This app can keep all of your Cloud files in one place. Files supports third-party apps including Dropbox and Google Drive. When you add a supported Cloud files app, it will be placed in the Files app under Locations.

The Files app has two tabs at the bottom of the screen, Recents and Browse. In the upper left corner is the Back button and the Edit button is in the upper right corner. There is a search form. After the Search box are buttons for adding a new folder, sorting, and which "View" you want to use.

The home page has the heading, "Locations." iCloud Drive and any other third-party file sharing apps can be accessed through the home screen. Double tap to select a file. Use the rotor or flick up and down with one finger to determine which actions are available for the file. For example, when I chose a document in my Dropbox file, I had the option to copy a link to the file.


It is now easier to add an attachment to Mail. Locate the file and use the rotor to copy it to the clipboard. Use the Edit menu to paste the file into your email.


Siri now has a new American female and a new American male voice. Go to Settings > Siri & Search. Tap the "Voice" button to listen to the options. The male and female Siri voices can also be used with VoiceOver.

Siri can now translate into some other languages. For example, I asked Siri how to say "Good morning" in Spanish and she gave me the correct answer. On the screen was my translation question followed by Siri's answer and a play button to hear the answer again. Since the answer was also on the screen, it could be read with the rotor set to characters or words. Since the text is on the screen it can also be read by someone who speaks the translated language.

Apple Music

You can now share music with friends who also subscribe to Apple Music. Activate the "My Account" button and locate the "Start Sharing with Friends" button. When activated, this button will load a new page where you can fill out a profile and select friends. This button is also in the "For You" tab of Apple Music.

If after updating to iOS 11 you cannot find your Apple Music Playlists, make sure to sign into your iCloud Music Library. Go to Settings > Music to do so.


If you own AirPods, you can now have each AirPod perform a separate action. Go to Settings > Bluetooth and locate your AirPods. Make sure they are in range. Activate the "More Info" button. Find the heading, "Double Tap on AirPod." Below this heading are buttons for controlling the left and right AirPod so they perform different actions. For example, my left AirPod is set to activate Siri and my right one is set to go to the next track.


It is definitely worth upgrading to iOS 11, which offers many enhancements to accessibility features and to the operating system more generally. Take time to go through Settings and your apps to check out all the changes.

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Janet Ingber
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Product Reviews and Guides