Last week, I talked about what iOS 11 means for music educators.  It’s tough when a big update comes along.  Especially when it means saying goodbye to favourite apps, which is the big story with this latest update.  However, most things in life come with a bright side as well.

There are several really great features with the new iOS that I am looking forward to delving into more & will help my productivity both during lessons & planning.

In the world of tech, nothing lasts forever.  I’m actually surprised that my student iPad has been supported as long as it has.  And as I tested out different features, I realized that depending on the age of each of my devices I couldn’t necessarily do everything that was available.

Before reading, check to see if your device is compatible with the new iOS.  To find out which generation of iPad you have, use Apple’s handy guide.

Now, back into the fun stuff!

Top iOS 11 Features For Music Educators

When I looked into the features of iOS 11, what really stood out to me was the POSSIBILITIES.

How we interact with our students & their parents,

how we do those little tasks that take up so much time,

& how we get our devices to work for us … not the other way around.

Calling All Travel Teachers!

Share wi-fi passwords with nearby devices

No more handing off the iPad to a student that wands the house looking for either a parent or the password. (This happens a few times a year when families forget they have changed the password or wireless connection.)  If the student has wifi connected on their iPad, it’s as easy as pressing a button to give you permission.

If students come to your studio, there is no need to share your wifi password with families as you can just give permission directly from your device.  No more interrupted lessons!

Do Not Disturb While Driving

I tested out this setting while teaching last week & was happy with the results.  More & more cities are implementing distracted driving laws.  And, getting a ticket for checking your phone just eats into your profits.

When my phone connected to my car’s Bluetooth, it asked if I wanted to turn on the setting.  Yes, please!  Any text messages, emails, notifications … they stayed hidden & didn’t disrupt my drive.  But when my husband called me, I got the phone call through the hands-free Bluetooth setting in my vehicle.  The downside?  I had to turn off the setting to text my husband that I was on my way home …. while my vehicle was in Park.  The easiest workaround will be to send a text BEFORE I turn on my vehicle.

What if I client texts you while you are driving?  Make sure they are on your favourites list & they will receive a message letting them know you are driving & will get back to them.  If it is urgent, they can type that in to let you know.  Now, whether you want to give your clients the right to decide if their text is urgent is completely up to you.  It could be a dangerous power to give.

Emergency SOS

When I saw this feature I thought, “Hallelujah!”.  However, if your phone is somewhere that it could potentially bump the sleep/wake button please don’t use this feature!

Chances are nothing is going to happen while I travel for work.  That being said, I like the idea that if I need to call 911 it’s not the process it was before.  Five taps of the on/sleep button & I can get connected to emergency services.  Just to be safe though, I’m checking where my phone is placed to ensure I don’t end up calling by accident.

SOS Sign

In-Lesson Help & Practice Aids

Draw on screenshots immediately

In previous iOS versions, we could take a screenshot, save it as a photo & then use Markup.

I used this feature in a FaceTime lesson to show a student the app settings I wanted him to use this week for his lab time assignment, then texted him the marked up photo.  Easy peasy!

Staff Wars screenshot

Markup … the first time

This covers so much more than it used to.  Now, you are able markup webpages, notes, photos, etc. by using either “Create PDF” or “Markup as PDF” buttons.  Either way it will show a marker in the top RH corner to get your artist side going & you can choose whether to save the PDF or just send it off.

I’ve already used this to markup manuscript paper with the student’s first note drawn in for writing out scales, but could see this as useful also for highlighting your policy on your website it a client continues to ask for the same exception over & over.

Marking online manuscript paper for student

Lab Time


Camera now scans QR codes

We (or our students) all have had the occasional issues with QR scanner apps.  Most of the time they work.  Except when they don’t.

Forget having students open another app.  Point the camera towards the QR code & it gives the option of opening it in Safari.  It doesn’t look like you are able to change the setting to another browser at this time.

Using camera to read QR codes
This is an assignment from Music Lab Task Cards at I highly recommend this resource!


File Manager

This is another game changer for me.  Imagine all your recent files in ONE place.  That’s right.  Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud & more all in one place!

We all have PDF’s that we share often with students or parents.  Rather than going to each storage app, once the PDF has been opened on your device it will show in “Files”.  It’s located at the bottom of the screen so it’s easy access whenever you need it.

Files app in iOS 11


Saving space

Your device now can tell you how to save space.  If you are like me, space is at a premium on my devices.  Now I can see what will help me free up space on my device … without plugging it into my computer.

One of the best parts of this?  Offload apps you rarely use WITHOUT loosing any documents or data.  How many apps do you keep because you don’t want to lose the data, but don’t use only rarely?  Now it isn’t an either-or situation.  This is something that I will be testing out in the next few weeks; starting with the apps that I won’t worry about losing the data, just in case.

Want to delete attachments from text messages?  I get all sorts of texts from students & often I just don’t need to keep the images (i.e. practice page).  Now, there is a easy way to go through all the attachments in one place rather than contact by contact.

Mailing just got more interesting

The look of the native mail app has changed a bit.  I’m still getting used to, but have to admit it is nice to have a wider area set aside for reading emails since the list of emails hides when you don’t need it.

Now, you can add drawings to emails.  Say a parent emails that their child is having trouble with telling which clef each hand needs to play for a particular song & no one can remember what the clefs are called.  Not a problem.  Send an email back with a drawing of each clef along with a label of the musical term & which hand plays.  It makes it easy for non-piano parents to support their child(ren) without knowing a lot of music terms or symbols.

Adding a drawing-picture-attachment to email  Insert drawing into email.JPG

Photos & Videos

To be honest, there are more features than I can list here.  This seems to be a big update area of iOS 11.  Between saving device space on photos, adding all sorts of cool features to pictures & so much more they have covered a lot.  In experimenting with the features, I found that they did not work on all devices that support iOS 11.  If you have a new device though, the world is your oyster!  Check at the end of this article to see the full listing.

Photo Tip

Images can also be dragged & dropped (like apps) into new folders.  This is dependant on how old your device is.  While my iPhone is too old to use this feature (even though it has iOS 11 & in theory should work), my iPad Pro did it just fine.  I can see how spring cleaning my iPad will become a whole lot easier.

Screen record (with sound) right from the iPad!

Cue the squealing.  That’s right.  No longer will you need a 3rd party app to record your screen.  No longer will you be limited to a whiteboard app.  This could very well be a game changer!

I tested out this feature & was so happy!  Hit record, move between any apps I want DURING the recording, & stop when ready.  Whether you prefer to record a voice over during or after recording, it’s simple to change with the tap of icon.

An Interesting Possibility

Augmented Reality

AR (augmented reality) is coming to more & more school classrooms.  It isn’t a stretch to think that it could eventually find a place in our studios.

Now, app developers have the framework to build AR into apps & games.  Can you imagine the types of apps we could get in the future?

While I know that my current student iPad will not be able to handle these apps, I am thinking that it could be a possibility at group lessons.  What student wouldn’t want to come to that lesson?

Want to know more?

I do want to mention that not everything about iOS 11 is rainbows & pink unicorns … or even pink unicorn-llamas.


There are glitches that will get ironed out with time, hopefully.  But rather than focusing on the apps I am losing, this article is meant to be a look forward & focus on the positives gained from this new update.

For more details on what these new updates are & how to implement them on your devices, read “91 Cool New iOS 11 Features You Didn’t Know About“.  (Yes.  I did actually read all 91 features.)

Have a great weekend!

Let me know below what you think the most exciting or useful new feature is for this latest update!

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