Apple released iOS 11 on September 19th.
If you stayed on the sidelines, you did well.
Indeed, early releases of a brand new operating system invariably brings a few bugs along.
This is why it's usually wise to wait at least for the second point release.
In this case, it would have been iOS 11.0.2, which was still buggy.
At the time of writing, its successor, iOS 11.0.3, is still plagued by a few bugs.
Hopefully these should be ironed out with the upcoming iOS 11.1.
Still wondering whether you should upgrade your iPhone to iOS 11?
Well, you are not alone asking this question.
And, you have the right attitude too.
Indeed, keeping your device up-to-date is an important step towards improving your digital security.
My goal with this post is to help you make a decision.
In order to do this, here are a few questions worth exploring:
- Can I upgrade my iPhone?
- Will I lose access to some of my favorite apps?
- What benefits can I expect from upgrading my iPhone to iOS 11?
- What drawbacks can I expect as a consequence?
Should you decide to upgrade, I will also help you be prepared.
Can I upgrade my iPhone?
iOS 11 is available for the following iPhone models:
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 6 & 6 Plus
- iPhone 6S & 6S Plus
- iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
If you’ve already received a notification to update your device to iOS 11, then you're good to go.
Not sure which device you have, then visit this official Apple Support page:
Still not sure? Leave a comment and I'll help you figure it out.
Will I lose access to some of my favorite apps?
If you upgrade your iPhone to iOS 11, you may not be able to use certain apps anymore.
The reason is that Apple is cutting support for older apps that are still in 32 bit.
In english this time, Apple is requiring developers to rewrite their apps so that they can use more memory.
This means that apps that have not been updated for a while will not work anymore, at least not until the developer updates it to be 64-bit compatible.
Luckily, since iOS 10.3, Apple is helping us discover which apps are concerned.
To check whether some of your apps won't work:
- Open Settings > General > About
- Scroll down to "Applications"
- Do you see a chevron ( > )?
- If not, then you’re good to go
- If you do, tap on it to see which apps won’t run on iOS 11
If needed, contact the app developer to enquire about if (and when) the app will be updated.
What benefits can I expect from upgrading my iPhone to iOS 11?
iOS 11 is bringing significant improvements in terms of usability and storage management.
Among all of those, I'll cover the following:
- The Files app
- Drag & drop
- Control Center
- Offloading apps
- App Store
- One-handed keyboards
The Files app
With Files, Apple is providing, for the very first time on iOS, a centralised way to access files stored in the cloud as well as locally.
If you have a Mac, you might be disappointed because it's far from replicating what Finder can do.
Having said that, it still represents a huge step forward and simplifies the way you can access and move/copy files on your iPhone.
And if you're tagging files stored in iCloud Drive, those tags now stay synchronised across all your Apple devices.
Drag & drop
With drag & drop, you can select multiple apps on your home screen and create a folder in one go:
- Long press on the first app and move your finger away from its starting location
- With another finger, tap on the other apps you want to group
- With the original finger, position the group on top of either another app or an existing folder
- Release the finger
You can use drag & drop inside the Files app too (right)
If you were frustrated with Control Center on iOS 10, you'll love iOS 11.
Not only are all the Control Center widgets accessible through a single screen, but you can arrange them too.
A bunch of new widgets are available, like screen recording, a magnifying glass, quick access to Notes and even an Apple TV remote.
If you're constantly fighting for local storage space on your iPhone, iOS 11 can dramatically improve the situation.
Indeed, it's now possible to "remove" an app, while keeping its data and documents on your device.
The exact name for this is "offloading" and it's great for 3D games and apps that take more space than their associated data.
What's cool is that the app icon stays on your home screen and you'll see a small cloud to the left of the app name.
Tap on it and the app will download (provided that it's still available in the App Store).
You can even activate an option which will automatically offload unused apps when there is little free space on your device.
If you combine this with the "Optimise iPhone Storage" feature of iCloud Photo Library, the chance of not being able to take a picture or shoot a video gets much slimmer now.
Talking about apps, the App Store has been revamped and is more useful than in the past.
Games are separated from the other apps and every day, you'll receive some recommendations from Apple.
And with the advent of Augmented Reality (AR) games, it's very easy to find those since they have their own category now.
If you have the Plus version of the iPhone and want to be able to type one-handed, you'll love this new feature.
Now there is a way to shrink the keyboard either to the left or the right side of the screen.
Perfect for thumb-typing while carrying something with the other hand.
iOS 11 is introducing other novelties that I won't cover here and if you want to know more, I invite you to visit Apple's Web site.
What drawbacks can I expect as a consequence?
Here, I'll cover hot topics like battery drains, sluggishness and the automatic change of the default multi-factor authentication method.
Faster battery drains
Whenever you install a major new version of iOS (in this case iOS 11), your device will feel slow and drain more battery than usual for a few days.
This is totally normal since the operating system has to do a lot of housekeeping (like file indexing) after the upgrade.
The more data on your iPhone and the slower the CPU, the longer this will take.
Please note that if you don't see any significant improvement after a couple of days, it could be due to the fact that iOS 11 activated background refresh for all the installed apps that ask for it.
To reduce battery drain from this alone:
- Visit Settings > General > Background App Refresh
- Toggle off unnecessary apps
- Tap on "Background App Refresh"
- Tap on "Wi-Fi"
Unlike with previous versions of iOS, toggling Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off from Control Center does NOT shut down the respective radios.
The only thing it does is disconnect the iPhone from the current access point or Bluetooth device.
The radios stay on, ready for the next connexion attempt.
Apple did this so that built-in features, like AirDrop, would continue working, but at the expense of battery life.
If you rely on your iPhone to stay up all day without a possibility to recharge it before the evening, then you'll need to manually turn the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radio off.
If your iPhone has 3D Touch (from 6S and up), then you can force press on the Settings app icon to quickly access the desired section to turn the radio off completely:
Some of the additional features provided by iOS 11 require a bit more horsepower than with previous versions.
This means that devices with 1 Gigabyte (GB) of memory (RAM) and the 4 years old A7 processor will most likely struggle to cope under iOS 11.
This concerns specifically the iPhone 5S, 6 & 6 Plus.
If you have one of those devices, expect your experience to be slightly degraded compared to iOS 10.
You're OK staying with iOS 10.3.3 (the latest release of iOS 10) until the next security vulnerability is discovered.
When that happens, Apple will only offer a patch for the latest version of iOS at the time.
This is why it's not safe to still use the iPhone 4 in 2017.
After that, you should bite the bullet, either by upgrading to the latest release of iOS 11 or by buying a more recent iPhone.
Multi-factor authentication method
Did you activate Two-Step Verification?
If you did, be aware that upgrading your iPhone to iOS 11 will automatically switch your Apple account to Two-Factor Authentication instead.
This means that you'll need to generate app-specific passwords in order to access your iCloud email, contacts and calendars on third-party apps or older devices (OS X 10.7.5 or earlier & iOS 5 or earlier)
To summarise, make sure that your iPhone is compatible with iOS 11.
Even if it is, expect older devices to be less responsive after the upgrade.
Not all of your apps may work after upgrading to iOS 11.
If you rely on an incompatible app for your business, then contact the developer or find an alternative solution.
It's OK to stay with iOS 10.3.3 for the moment, at least until the next security vulnerability is in the wild.
Overall, iOS 11 is bringing welcome improvements to the iPhone experience and you should quickly feel at ease after the upgrade.
There are a few kinks to iron out and new habits to take if you want to maintain the battery life that you're used to.
What should I do to prepare for the upgrade?
So, you're convinced that upgrading your iPhone to iOS 11 is the right thing to do.
Here are the three steps I recommend to take before actually triggering the upgrade:
- Make at least 1 backup
- Gather your passwords
- Choose your upgrade method
First, I'd recommend to perform at least 1 backup of your device.
If you have a compatible computer, then perform an encrypted backup of your device via iTunes:
- If needed, update iTunes on your computer
- Launch iTunes and connect your device to your computer via USB
- Access the panel with your device
- Tick the box “Encrypt local backup” and enter a password
- Click on “Back Up Now”
By encrypting the backup, you ensure that your Health data and your passwords are safely copied onto your computer, allowing you to restore them when needed.
If you don't have access to a compatible computer, then perform an iCloud backup of your device:
- Plug your device to a charger
- Connect your device to Wi-Fi
- Open Settings > Your Apple ID > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now
You may need to upgrade your iCloud Storage tier, starting at $0,99/month for 50GB.
Believe me, it's worth it.
Being the kind of person who is particularly cautious, my natural advice is to make both kinds of backup if you can.
As the saying goes, better be safe than sorry.
Gather important passwords
After a major iOS upgrade, you'll need to enter your iCloud password a few times before being operational.
Some applications may ask you to re-authenticate with their server too.
Therefore, before upgrading your iPhone to iOS 11, I'd recommend to gather all your most important passwords, starting with the one for iCloud itself.
If you store passwords in Safari, you can find those by visiting:
- Settings > Safari > Passwords
- Enter your device passcode or use Touch ID
- Tap on the site that you want
- The associated password will be visible there
If you can't put your hands on the passwords of your most critical email and cloud service providers, including iCloud, now is the best time to reset them.
Visit the login page of the services that you use and initiate a password reset procedure.
In the case of iCloud, visit https://iforgot.apple.com
There are two ways to upgrade your iOS device using native Apple tools:
- either via iTunes (wired)
- or over-the-air (wireless)
Here's a quick rundown of the pros & cons of each method:
- Quicker overall
- Less likely to lead to incidents (as long as you don’t fiddle with the USB cable)
- Requires a computer
- Requires to download a bigger upgrade package (about 2.5 GB)
- Does not require a computer
- Needs to download a smaller upgrade package (about 1.3 GB)
- Slower overall
- Can be problematic in case there is little local storage space free
- Has lead to incidents which rendered some devices temporarily nonoperational (iOS 10 upgrade)
If you can access a computer capable of running the latest version of iTunes, this is the method that I would recommend.
If not, then go ahead with the over-the-air method.
Either way, foresee the entire process to take between half an hour to an hour.
Therefore, it's recommended to do it overnight after plugging your iPhone to the wall charger
Did you already upgrade your iPhone to iOS 11?
If so, what do you think of it?
If not, are you tempted to do so and why?