(Pocket-lint) - Apple's iOS 11 update was more geared towards the iPad than any previous release of iOS.  If you're a student, this feature outlines why it can transform your iPad experience at home and in class.

And when iOS 12 arrives this Autumn, Screen Time will empower you to understand and make choices about how much time you spend using apps and websites while new iPad gestures will make it easier to navigate. There will also be a voice memos app just like on the iPhone, plus a thesaurus. 

What's in iOS for students?

As a student, there are iOS-specific features just for the iPad you'll want to check out. For instance, the new app dock has space for more apps - and you can open them by pulling them up from the dock. Also, a new App Switcher will support drag and drop for text, images, multi-select, etc, and a new Files app will house all files and folders to help you find everything on your iPad.

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App dock

iOS 11 comes with an all-new dock on the iPad, which make it easier to find your favourite apps, recently used apps, and homework files. The Dock is also now important when it comes to multitasking on the tablet; for instance, it's the only way to activate the split-view mode in iOS 11, as the right-edge swipe no longer works on the iPad. Here's how it works:

  1. Press down on an app until the jiggle effect.
  2. Drag icons to the dock until you've filled your dock (it can hold up to 13 apps or folders).
  3. Open an app by tapping on its icon in the dock.
  4. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring back the dock.
  5. Drag an icon from the dock to the right or left side of the tablet's screen.
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Files app

Apple added a new Files app into iOS 11 on the iPad, which puts all your homework files in one place - not just the ones on your iPad, but also those in apps, in iCloud, and across third-party services. The Browse tab at the bottom of the app lets you easily navigate between files stored on iCloud or on your device, while the Recents tab at the bottom makes it seamless to continue on with your work.

Note: Files replaces the iCloud Drive app in iOS 11.

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App Switcher

Accompanying the Dock is a new App Switcher that shows all of your most recently used apps. It also offers access to Control Center settings and preserves your Split View or Slide Over window arrangements. Apple said the App Switcher makes changing apps "as quick as a swipe", because, using your finger, you can easily move text, photos, and files from one app to another.

It even remembers the combinations of apps you’ve multitasked with previously, and apps now stay active in Slide Over and Split View.

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Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil is now more useful, thanks to these new iOS 11 features: 

  • Instant Notes - Tap Apple Pencil on your iPad’s Lock screen and a note will open, allowing you to easily jot down thoughts while in class.
  • Instant Markup - Now you can easily sign class documents, annotate PDFs that your teacher sent, or draw on a screenshot for a project.
  • Inline Drawing - You can also sketch, draw, or write directly alongside text in Notes and Mail - just in case you don't feel like fully paying attention while you listen to your teacher go on an don.
  • Searchable Handwriting - Write what you want now, and then search your handwritten text and characters later. This feature makes it easy to keep track of all your jots and scribbles from class.

iOS 11 is available now to anyone using an iPhone (from 5S onwards), iPad (from Air and mini 2 onwards) or iPod touch (sixth gen only). Check Settings > General > Software Update to see if you can download it. 

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The best iPad apps for students

  1. Microsoft Office apps - yes, you can use Microsoft Office apps on iPad: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are all available for iPad.
  2. myHomework Student Planner - track your classes, homework, tests and assignments
  3. Class Timetable - school, college and university schedule planner
  4. Slack - bring team communication and collaboration into one place
  5. GoodNotes 4 - handwritten notes and PDF Markup
  6. Forge - brainstorm and organise your ideas
  7. Noted - notebook and voice memos
  8. Wunderlist - to do list and tasks
  9. Canva - photo editor and design
  10. Astropad Standard - for design students, turn your iPad into a drawing tablet for Mac

Liked this? Check out the best iOS 11 tips and tricks

Writing by Maggie Tillman.