iOS 12 is out. And while the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4 dominate the headlines, iOS 12 is not one to be ignored or taken lightly. The latest release of Apple’s mobile operating system brings performance boosting updates on iPhone and iPad, as well as a host of new features. Key highlights include new AR experiences, Memoji, Siri Shortcuts, nifty features like Screen Time and improved notifications.
I’ve been running the Public Beta for several weeks on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus and I found many things to love about the big update. Sure, I discovered a few bugs and issues (the crashing camera for one) but being a beta, that’s not totally unexpected.
I’ve since installed the official release on both phones and so far, it’s been a rock solid upgrade.
Here are 12 things you’ll love about iOS 12
Performance, performance, performance
When Apple announced iOS 12 in June, a key focus for the mobile OS was performance. And performance not just for the new and next generation of devices, but also older ones like the iPhone 5s or iPhone 6. In fact, iOS 12 is available for up to five-year old iPhones and iPads.
Apple has, over the years, been accused of “planned obsolescence” and while I disagree with the statement, the general sentiment is that the company “slows down” older iPhones with each new upgrade.
And that’s fantastic news for those not looking at upgrading to the latest crop of devices.
Older phones like the iPhone 6s or iPhone 7 will feel like new, and if initial feedback from people running this update on their older devices are any indication, Apple has delivered.
Of course, speed gains will feel more substantial on older devices, but that’s not to say newer devices like the iPhone X or iPhone 8 Plus won’t enjoy the boost.
It’s a long time coming, but Apple has drastically changed how Notifications work in iOS. Notifications from the same app can now be grouped together in a stack, so it’s easier to view and manage multiple notifications. You can manage how notifications are delivered and if you want to turn them off at app-level.
Not to be confused with battery-related Screen On Time, Apple’s Screen Time helps you understand and take control of how much time you spend on your iPhone or iPad.
It gives you detailed information about the time you spend with apps and websites and it will also display daily and weekly Activity Reports. For instance, I know that so far today, I’ve spent 43 minutes reading, 33 minutes social networking and just 5 minutes on productive stuff (don’t tell my boss).
It even tells you how many times you’ve picked up your device and how many notifications you’ve received. On average, I get over 115 notifications per day.
I know based on Screen Time stats that my most used apps are WhatsApp, Facebook and Waze.
The cool thing is that you can set time limits for app uses with App Limits.
For parents, Screen Time allows parents to access their child’s Activity Report from their own iOS devices using Family Sharing in iCloud. From there, parents can schedule times to limit or manage use of a child’s iOS device.
Do Not Disturb (DND) is an incredibly handy feature that’s been a part of previous iOS releases. iOS 12 introduces new modes where DND can be turned on automatically based on a specific time, location or action. Do Not Disturb during Bedtime helps you sleep better by automatically dimming the display, silencing all calls, hiding all notifications on the lock screen until the next morning.
Apple can pride itself to have the world’s largest AR platform with iOS (sorry Google) and the company continues to bet big on AR. iOS 12 introduces shared AR experiences, persistent AR and more dynamic object detection and image tracking.
What’s cool about shared AR is that multiple people can play the same game, or collaborate on projects like schoolwork, home renovations or even artwork.
What’s really cool is persistent AR. Persistent AR lets you leave virtual objects in the real world to which users can return. That opens up a whole new world of possibilities in interaction and applications.
With better image detection and tracking, AR in iOS 12 is even more realistic. It can detect 3D objects and automatically apply reflections. AR files can be views nearly anywhere in iOS, including apps like Messages, Safari, Mail, Files and News.
Apple has taken its Animoji several steps further with Memoji. Memoji characters are fun and customisable. Anyone with an iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max can create their own Memoji characters. Memoji can be created within Messages by choosing from a set of inclusive and diverse characteristics to form a unique personality.
The expansive Animoji family extends further with ghost, koala, tiger and T. rex.
iOS 12 adds new camera effects including Animoji, Filters, Text and Stickers to Messages and Facetime. You can add filters like comic book and watercolour to photos and videos, new labels and shapes, as well as stickers using iMessage sticker packs.
The Photos app has become richer and more Google Photos-like. There’s a new For You tab that displays your favourite moments in one place including Sharing Suggestions, Memories from key events, and it makes it easier for you to share photos with friends.
Friends who receive photos are prompted to share back any photos and videos from the same trip or event.
Search suggestions surface the most relevant Events, People, Places, Groups, Categories and recent searches. There’s also a new search functionality that lets you combine multiple search terms to find the right photos.
In iOS 12, Siri gains some new magical powers. The charming digital personal assistant can now work with any app through Siri Shortcuts. Siri can learn routines and provide suggestions at the right time.
You can use your voice to run any Shortcut, and the cool thing is, you can create your own custom Shortcuts to streamline frequent tasks.
Taking privacy and security seriously
New features in iOS 12 enhance privacy and security of users. In Safari for instance, enhanced intelligent Tracking Prevention helps block social media “Like” and “Share” buttons and comment widgets that may track users without permission.
Safari also makes it difficult for users to be tracked when they browse the web. The browser will also automatically create, autofill and store strong passwords when you create online accounts. Safari will flag reused passwords so that you can change them.
Nifty add-ons – QR Code camera, Voice Memos
iOS 12 adds a couple of nifty little shortcuts to Control Center. Previously you could scan QR codes from the Camera app (since iOS 11), but now Apple has added the scanner to the Control Center. Swipe up to bring up the Control Center and you’ll find the QR Code scanner. On the iPhone X and iPad, swipe down from the top right corner.
Voice Memos, a handy tool to record audio is now even better. The app is now available on the iPad, and it also adds iCloud support so it’s easy to sync recordings and edit across devices.
Apple has redesigned some of its apps in iOS 12, namely Apple News, Stocks, Apple Music, CarPlay, and Wallet. A brand new app called Apple Books is great for discovering and enjoying books and audiobooks. It has a Read Now tab and Book Store tab to make it easier to browse books, and a Library tab to organise your own collection.
Whether you’re using an iPhone X or an iPhone 5s, iOS 12 is a fantastic, solid upgrade that’s performance-oriented and refined. It’s a free update for iPhone 5s or later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th and 6th generation, iPad mini 2 and later, and iPod touch 6th generation.
Want more info? Visit apple.com.