iOS 11: Apple's Achingly Familiar Yet Wildly Futuristic OS

By Joanna SternFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Quick assignment. Look at the image below. Really look at it, like you're trying to find Waldo.

On the left is the iPhone OS 1 -- the original software that shipped on the original iPhone 10 years ago. On the right, iOS 11. It's brand new software, announced today at Apple's annual developers conference. Unless Apple is changing the playbook, this is the software that'll ship on the 10th-anniversary iPhone due this fall.

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What do you really see? I see some major aesthetic changes -- and one screen is a lot bigger than the other. But 10 software releases later, Apple still believes our smartphone homescreens should be a checkerboard of apps -- with the most important four stuck to the bottom.

But that's just the skin-deep way of looking it. Beneath the familiar app-grid homescreen, iOS 11 reveals the future of Apple and its products. With this new version, our iPhones could guide us through life faster (and possibly safer) and our iPads might finally become real computers. And by integrating augmented reality, Apple is showing us a future where we might stop holding up our screens altogether.