iOS 11 and its built-in App Store: week one

Following the disruptive changes in iOS 11 and the fact we will have to use its redesigned App Store app going forward, I am diving headfirst and documenting my experience as it occurs on this blog (next).

  • Syncs are obviously much faster now. Beforehand the routine would be:

    • start the download of all app updates just before I leave home for work (…provided I remember)
    • once back home from work, sync the iPhone (~10 minutes)
    • then sync the iPad (~10 more minutes)
    • then trigger a Time Machine backup, to be sure to have the devices backups in there.

    Now it is more like:

    • once back home from work, sync the iPhone (~1 minute)
    • then sync the iPad (~1 more minute)
    • then trigger a Time Machine backup.
    • Meanwhile, tell my iPhone and iPad to download their app updates during the night.

    The undeniable advantage is that I can do these operations right after another without interruption, while with the long syncs I would have to leave to do something else while iTunes would do its thing to the iPhone or iPad… and often forget to launch the next operation until a few hours later.

  • I hate the new way the lock wall paper comes into view, because for split second you get the dreaded feeling the midtones are too dark. Indeed, if you’re like me you have bad memories of images being transferred from a Mac to a PC without gamma correction and the midtones appearing too dark as a result (same if you’ve worked on video or image editing, of you’ve prepped files for printing, etc.) I suppose I’ll get used to it at some point

  • The built-in QR code scanner works well. The implementation as a pseudo-notification is pretty nice to ensure you pick the right one when multiple are nearby:

    Interface of the built-in QR code scanner in iOS 11, inside the Camera app

    (this is from a sheet of paper I put to indicate the references of a few art pieces I put on my wall at work, in case my coworkers get curious)

  • I haven’t transferred the 32-bit only apps to the respective older devices (iPhone 3GS and iPad 2) yet. The hardest will be to transfer user data; I will probably need to start from a backup, merge with a backup of the old device (because some apps were already there), and reload that backup… fun stuff.

  • The new ability to uninstall apps is a godsend. Previously, in order to preserve game data (which took me a long time to obtain) weighing on the order of a few kilobytes (not even a megabyte), I was forced to keep 600 MB of data around like an anchor around the neck of this data. No more.

    The Chrono Trigger app shown as taking up 649.3 MB (app) and 41 kB (data)

    Note: you must have your Apple ID set up in the App Store app for it to appear (when I attempted to use it on iPad, I had just logged off from it for unrelated reasons, and was wondering why it would not appear as it would on the iPhone).

  • Animated GIFs put in the camera roll now do animate when you view them there. However, as a result you cannot edit them.

  • The Files app. This will be an ongoing section because I expect never to be done with it.

    Note the Files app does not provide a storage space by itself; rather, it is meant to unify the view between the different storage providers (iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive, etc.) on your device; I use Documents by Readdle. But it enables more than just this unified view.

    • A major change it permits is that you can now download unrecognized files, including blobs, from the browser to the Files app. Of course, that file has to go into one of the storage providers, but the action is different from the traditional “open copy in…”: the semantics are different, in the latter case for instance Documents by Readdle could decline to open the file which would prevent me from saving it there, while by going through the “Save in Files…” option in the share sheet, it is saved there without trouble.

    • However, there are limitations. In particular, Mobile Safari royally ignores the download attribute (rdar://problem/34745102/), including its value (blobs are saved with name “unknown.dms”), as well as the ”Content-Disposition: attachment” HTTP header (which forces the browser to download the resource, rdar://problem/34721730/): it always attempts to load the resource as a first step, which may be dangerous in some cases.

    • Also, all the file management issues we’ve been complaining for years for Apple to improve were dumped wholesale in the Files app, and in particular the presence of file typing extensions:

      In the immortal words of John Siracusa: “Would the real unknown please step forward”. Come on Apple!

    • However, if Mobile Safari is able to display or play the media, you seem to be out of luck: I have not seen any option to download it. Images you can save in the camera roll, but audio files for instance have no download option of any sort.

    Plenty more discoveries to follow, I am sure…

One thought on “iOS 11 and its built-in App Store: week one

  1. Consider using iMazing to transfer the app data from your 64-Bit devices to the 32-bit ones. iMazing lets you access any app‘s data directory, so you should be able to use it to copy the data directory from your iOS 11 devices onto your Mac, then from there onto the old devices.

    This should be much less hassle than having to merge two device backups somehow.

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