Whether or not you're getting a new iPhone from Apple this week, the company's going to be giving you something. iOS 11, the software that powers iPhones and iPads, will be getting an update alongside the brand new phones.

While iOS 11 doesn't have the same spectacular iPhone features that have come in recent releases, it is a complete overhaul of the way that people interact with their iPads. And it packs in plenty of new features for your iPhone too.

The full release of the software will almost certainly come out this week or next. Usually, it comes out just a few days before the iPhone goes on sale – expect for next Friday – and of course it can't come out any later than that.

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Anyone can get hold of it now, by signing up to Apple's beta programme. Of course, it's very late, and you might want instead to just be patient; but the lateness also means that you'll get hold of a version of the operating system that's almost identical to the one that will come out when it's released to the public, and you'll avoid the slowdowns and bugs that pop up earlier on.

If you want to join, you can just head to Apple's special page and sign up there. iPhones, iPads, Macs and even Apple TVs can all be enrolled as part of the programme.

The real changes this time around on the iPad, rather than the iPhone. Indeed, the updates to the tablet are probably the biggest leap since it first came out.

Those changes include a new Dock that sits at the bottom of the screen, and works a little like the same thing on the Mac. It's intended to make it much quicker to get around – and succeeds – by allowing you to pick apps without going all the way back to the homescreen, and to grab those apps and slot them alongside each other.

And those multitasking features receive a vast upgrade. You can drag things between different apps and drop them elsewhere, for instance, and when different apps are on screen they'll work just as well as they do when they're on their own.

None of which is to mention the augmented reality features built into the software, which can be used to put virtual objects into the real spaces around you. That's less useful in the iPhone – but is likely to come to the fore with the iPhone X, which reportedly includes special sensors to make augmented reality better than ever.

But you get plenty of new stuff with the iPhone, too, even if you're not preparing to drop $1,000 on the new iPhone X. The primary changes are in the camera and photos: now Live Photos look a lot better and can do things like , for instance, and Apple has added special features intended to make your pictures look better.

And each of Apple's updates has got an update, too, on both the iPad and the iPhone. The App Store has been entirely redesigned, for instance, and Siri has become much smarter and more realistic sounding.

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