Hands-on with iOS 11.3: new Animoji, Health records, ARKit 1.5, Messages on iCloud, AirPlay 2, and more

iOS 11.3 has been released in the first developer beta ahead of a full release this spring. Apple previewed it ahead of time, teasing many new features. From AirPlay 2 to Messages on iCloud, to new Animoji, Health records, and more, we’ve now gone hands-on with everything new you can expect in iOS 11.3.

Check out all the new features and changes in our quick video.

Subscribe to iDownloadBlog on YouTube

There is lots to love in this forthcoming update. Let’s take a look at a few of the best features.

AirPlay 2

AirPlay 2 is Apple’s second generation to their AirPlay technology that allows you to cast audio (or video) to an AirPlay speaker or Apple TV.

Version 2 is quite a bit more robust, and has the ability to steam audio to multiple rooms/speakers at the same time.

The feature is similar to Sonos’ implementation that they’ve had out for a while.

Multi-room audio is a difficult beast to tackle and has been delayed by Apple quite a few times. The HomePod is even launching without it, pledging support later this year.

Check out our hands-on experience with AirPlay 2, where while buggy, left us impressed.

Messages on iCloud

Messages on iCloud is another oft delayed feature, intended to ship with iOS 11 last fall.

It allows all your messages to be stored in iCloud, reducing your storage locally, and keeping them in check across devices. Now whenever you set up a new device, your history is there. When you delete a message on one device, it is deleted everywhere.

Health Records

Health is something I am very interested in, and the new feature to the Health app gets me very excited.

The new record section will bring all of your tests and health data from different sources to one location. When you have a blood test, your results can go straight from your doctor to the Health app on your phone.

Currently, it only supports a limited number of health networks and hospitals in beta, but more will be added in the future.

ARKit 1.5

ARKit got an update to version 1.5, bringing a number of noticeable improvements.

It now is able to track vertical surfaces such as walls and windows, as well as horizontal.

When viewing through the camera, the image is now at a 50% higher resolution, and it does a much better job at tracking irregular objects like circular tables.


If you’ve got an iPhone X, there are now several new Animoji characters to animate your facial expressions.

Bringing the number to a cool 16, we have a bear, skull, dragon, and lion available.

Full list of changes and features (so far)

Here is our running list, be sure to let us know in the comments of anything else you may spot.

  • Health Records
  • Vertical ARKit
    • More accurately map irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables
    • 50 percent greater resolution and supports auto-focus for an even sharper perspective
  • New Animoji
    • Dragon, bear, lion, skull
  • Business chat
  • Messages in iCloud
  • New privacy splash screen
  • Privacy icon blue in settings
  • Support for Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to automatically send a user’s current location when making a call to emergency services in countries where AML is supported.
  • View battery status (upcoming beta)
  • Disable performance smoothing (upcoming beta)
  • Apple News new Video group in For You, and improved Top Stories.
  • Apple Music will soon be the home for music videos.
  • HomeKit software authentication
  • Apple TV shows up in Home app with tvOS 11.3, won’t work as hub for automation & remote access without tvOS 11.3 on iOS 11.3
  • AirPlay 2
  • USB Accessories security
  • Version and app download size in App Store
  • App Store following text size
  • iBooks is now Books
  • Multitasking animation speed on iPhone X