Apple previews iOS 11.3’s new Animojis and battery service warnings

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More big news out of Apple this morning. The company’s offering up a preview of what’s to come in the latest version of its mobile operating system. The biggest updates here are coming to power management, its augmented reality platform ARKit, Animoji and the company’s Health app.

You can check out a more in-depth preview of ARKit 1.5 over here. The newly updated platform brings the ability to recognize objects on vertical surfaces like walls, along with circular tables, adding to its current ability to position virtual things on tables and chairs. The system is also capable of spotting 2D images includes posters and signs, opening up a pretty broad range of potential applications in places like museums.

There are new Animojis on the way with the release as well. 11.3 will bring a dragon, bear, lion and skull to its list of animated avatars, bring the full number up to 16 characters.

Notably, the new version of the operating system also features a some key updates to the way the company hands battery. iOS 11.3 features a battery health meter and offers up recommendations when it’s time to get your battery looked at — a bit like a Check Engine warning on your car. Users can also choose to shut off the company’s controversial decision to throttle performance in order to save battery life on older phones.

That feature is arriving in a later beta release of iOS 11.3 and will be available for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The move is a clear response to recent backlash to the company’s lack of transparency around how it handled battery life in iOS 10.2.1.

No surprise, the company’s also bringing some key updates to its Health app. The offering has been a central focus in Apple’s wearables play, and it’s looking to make it a more serious health tool. A new Health Records feature aggregates health information into one spot, for use by doctors and clinics.

The information collected here is much more serious than your standard Apple Watch metrics, pulling together medications, lab results and the like. Naturally, the company’s also talking up security, as yet another piece of precious information comes to the same piece of hardware we use to send emails and make bank transactions. Apple says all of that information is encrypted and protected with a passcode.

Business Chat is an interesting new addition, giving users the ability to communicate with retailers and financial institutions directly through Messages. The feature will roll out in beta when iOS 11.3 launches to the public, bringing a handful of partners, including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. It’s basically a way to speak to a service rep without having to sit on hold or bug a company on its official Twitter account.

There are a handful of other notable additions that warrant mentioning here. HomeKit is getting software authentication support, giving smart home hardware makers additional security options. Apple News has a smattering of improvements, including curated videos and improved Top Stories. Apple Music, meanwhile, is adding music videos to its streaming offering.

iOS 11.3 will be arriving to users in the Spring. Those enrolled in the Developer Program, meanwhile, can download it starting today.

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