It seems like it took forever, but Apple finally released its hotly anticipated iOS 11.3 update on Thursday afternoon. Why would a software update other than iOS 12 be hotly anticipated, you ask? Despite merely being a “dot” update, this iOS 11.3 release includes a feature that iPhone users have been dying for: a way to disable Apple’s automatic iPhone throttling on devices with older batteries.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, it was revealed earlier this year that Apple had been secretly limiting performance on older iPhone models with batteries that had degraded to a certain point. This mechanism had been added to iOS last year in an effort to prevent inadvertent shutdowns (remember the “30% bug”?), but the fact that Apple did it without telling customers played right into the planned obsolescence conspiracy theories. You know, the people who say Apple secretly slows down older devices to get people to buy new ones. We’ve all laughed at those theories for years… and then it actually happened — though according to statements from Apple, its goal was to stop phones from shutting down rather than force upgrades.
Whatever the case, new battery health features and the ability to disable throttling are definitely the most talked about additions to Apple’s mobile software in iOS 11.3. There are some other things that have Apple fans buzzing as well, such as four new Animoji characters — lion, bear, dragon, and skull — and notifications when iOS wants your personal data. There’s much more to the iOS 11.3 update, though, and in this post we’ll discuss five cool new features that you might not know about.
Speed and performance improvements
If you have an older iPhone and you disable Apple’s throttling feature, you’re obviously going to notice huge improvements where UI speed and overall performance are concerned. As a quick recap, Lithium-Ion batteries lose capacity over time as they endure more and more charge cycles. Once the remaining capacity reaches a certain point, earlier versions of iOS automatically throttle performance as a workaround for the shutdown bug that was driving users crazy. Phones would remain throttled until the battery was replaced, which is why Apple slashed the price of its battery swap program as a mea culpa. Now, in iOS 11.3, users can disable throttling so their older iPhones are no longer slowed down.
Yes, we all know that feature has been added to iOS 11.3. What far fewer people are discussing, however, is that RAM management appears to have been improved in iOS 11.3, which is also a huge deal.
iOS 11 has been plagued by serious RAM management issues ever since it was released. You know those real-life speed tests YouTubers love, where iPhones would always crush the latest Android phone? Well iPhones have been losing those races lately because they don’t use RAM efficiently. Apps that should remain “frozen” in the background were being closed completely when new apps were opened because there wasn’t enough available RAM to store their statuses.
It’s still early, but my own initial testing suggests that Apple has made some improvements to RAM management. A number of other iPhone users have emailed me to report the same, and I’ve seen discussions start to pop up online. I have found that apps often remain frozen in the background in instances where they would have previously been force closed. As a result, switching around from app to app is far quicker than it was in earlier versions of iOS 11. Needless to say, this is a big deal.
Augmented Reality enhancements
ARKit is still relatively new and buzzy, but no one is really talking about the nifty enhancements Apple introduced in iOS 11.3. Here are the relevant notes from the iOS 11.3 change log:
ARKit 1.5 allows developers to place virtual objects on vertical surfaces, such as walls and doors, as well as on horizontal surfaces.
Supports the detection and integration of images, such as movie posters or works, into augmented reality experiences.
The real-world view perceived through the camera has a higher resolution as part of the augmented reality experience.
There are countless things that developers can do with these enhancements. As someone with a horrible eye for visualizing decor, I personally can’t wait for good apps that let me see what different paintings and prints will look like on my walls.
App review sorting
This might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it is:
Four options now allow you to sort the customer reviews on the product pages: the most useful, the most favorable, the most critical or the most recent.
In general, customer reviews in the App Store are really, really, really bad. People get frustrated over silly things or they don’t understand something that should be obvious, so they hop on the App Store and leave a 1-star review. In iOS 11.3, people can finally sort app reviews to weed out the junk and more easily find reviews that are actually useful.
Username and passwords autofill in apps
This change is also a huge deal that people are going to love. In earlier versions of iOS 11, Safari could store usernames and passwords to autofill them on websites where users need to log in. Now, this functionality is finally available in apps, as per the following note from the iOS 11.3 change log:
Automatic filling of usernames and passwords is now available in apps’ web views.
So, for example, when you click through a link to The Wall Street Journal in your Twitter app, you can auto-fill your login info rather than having to leave the app and dig your username and password out of a third-party password manager like 1Password.
Death of the auto-correct capitalization bug
This last one is my personal favorite, because this is a bug that has bothered me forever. In fact, this bug might have been in iOS since the very beginning. Here’s the item of interest from Apple’s iOS 11 release notes:
Fixes a problem that could cause the capitalization of the first letter of some words by the automatic correction feature.
I’ll describe it a bit better, and iPhone users will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Sometimes as you’re typing messages, you would make a spelling mistake or some other mistake that auto-correct didn’t catch. So, you would hit the backspace button a bunch of times until the word in question was deleted. Because of this bug, when you finished deleting the first letter of the word in question, iOS would automatically engage the caps button even though the word you deleted didn’t start with a capital letter. Then, when you began to type again, the first letter would be capitalized even though it shouldn’t be.
For example, you might delete “teh”in the middle of a sentence and then replace it with “The,” which shouldn’t have been capitalized. It was beyond annoying, but now it’s finally fixed.