Today at the companies annual World Wide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled iOS 12, the latest release in the operating system that powers iPhone and iPad devices. The new release, which is available in a developer beta today and to consumers this fall, includes a number of significant enhancements and improvements, including major performance updates, screen time, updated apps, and more.
Notably, iOS 12 will run on all devices that supported iOS 11. Due to the performance focus, it will also make these older devices significantly faster than they were on iOS 11, with quoted figures of apps launching at double the speed and more.
Here’s everything we know so far:
As mentioned above, iOS 12 runs on all devices that supported iOS 11 and makes basic actions significantly faster over the previous update, including app launches and animations. These new updates are possible through reworked balance of the compute power in iOS devices, and should also result in improvements on newer devices.
AR Kit 2.0 and Measure
iOS 12 continues Apple Augmented Reality ambitions with AR Kit 2.0, which allows for a number of new technological improvements. These include the ability to share an AR experience with multiple users on multiple devices for things like gaming, better tracking, and the ability to ‘save’ AR objects in the real world and contain information within them.
Apple also announced a new file format made in conjunction with Pixar called USDZ, which allows for the easy saving and sharing of virtual object. Via the new format, for example, a company like Fender can include USDZ files alongside their products on the companies website. Then, a user with an iOS device can place the object in the real world to get an idea of what it looks like.
iOS 12 includes the first built-in AR native app, Measure, which allows for iOS devices to easily and accurately measure objects in the real world. The app can even automatically detect certain shapes instantly and allow you to copy and save the information.
Photos enhancements in iOS 12
iOS 12 includes a number of enhancements and improvements to the Photos app.
Users can now search a much wider array of queries to help them find photos, including places. Additionally, Photos now includes a ‘For You’ tab, which intelligently lists photos you might be interested in based on location or recency.
The Photos app can now also automatically create albums, and recommend who to share those albums with based on the people in the photos. Once shared, the receiving user will get full resolution copies, and, if the user has other photos from the same event, recommend they share them back into a joint album.
Siri & Shortcuts
iOS 12 includes a number of major enhancements to Siri, the companies virtual assistant. Prior to iOS 12, only certain types of app, such as ride-hailing and ordering apps, were granted access to Siri. Now, with iOS 12, all apps are able to create Siri ‘shortcuts’. After a developer enables them, these will allow a user, for instance, to go into the Starbucks app, and create a Siri shortcut to automatically order their usual drink. You even get to dictate what that command will be, so when you set it up for the first time, you can make it ‘my usual breakfast’. Then, whenever you say to Siri ‘order my usual breakfast’, Siri will automatically order your drink from Starbucks.
iOS 12 also includes a new, incredibly powerful app called Shortcuts, which allows users to create chains of events via one Siri command. The design of the app and the feature is heavily inspired by Workflow, which was acquired by Apple earlier this year. With Shortcuts, a user will be able to create a Siri command ‘start my commute home’, and then have it automatically begins directions home, turn on the AC, start playing your favorite podcast or music, and once you arrive open the garage door, all with a single command. Shortcuts can even be ran on HomePod and Apple Watch.
Stock, Apple News, Voice Memos, & Apple Books
Apple also took the opportunity to update a number of existing iOS apps with iOS 12.
The Stocks app includes a complete redesign, with easily viewable daily progress charts, after hours support, and integrated news from Apple News.
Apple News includes a new browse tab for easier access to your favorite sources and a brand new design on iPad.
Voice Memos has been completely redesigned and now includes iCloud support, allowing users to quickly manage recordings between devices.
Apple Books is completely overhauled, with an all new typeface and design, deep audiobook integration, new curated content, and Siri intelligence for users to easily pick up where they left off.
Additionally, for the very first time, all of these apps are available on iPad and macOS in addition to the iPhone.
Do Not Disturb & Screen Time
iOS 12 includes a number of enhancements that allow users to be more aware of their digital health and to spend less time on their devices.
These changes start with a completely reworked Do Not Disturb. The feature, which previously muted all notifications whenever toggled or during a specific timeframe, now includes Do Not Disturb During Bedtime. The addition intelligently figures out when a user has gone to bed, and will mute all notifications automatically. Presumably, if it appears someone is trying to contact you multiple times during an emergency, it will allow them through. In order for user to be less distracted by their devices in the night, the feature will automatically hide all notifications until a user pushes a button asking to see them. Once a user wakes up, they will be greeted with the current weather, and must push continue in order to be bombarded with what they’ve missed.
Screen Time will provide users with a comprehensive overview of their device activity across all iOS devices each week, separated by app type and a number of other statistics. The feature will allow for a user to limit how much time they are allowed to spend in an app, with the device alerting them to stop once the timer has finished. The feature is also deeply integrated with Family Sharing, allowing parents to monitor their children’s activity, and limit certain or all apps by time or by limits.
Notifications have been greatly improved in iOS 12, after years of requests from consumers, the OS finally groups notifications, not just by app, but by event as well. Instead of seeing a long list of notifications in chronological orders, users will not see the grouped, clicking on the group will expand the relevant information, and a user can easily clear them all at once. Additionally, notifications can now easily be turned off or muted (sending them straight to the Notification Center) by 3D touching. Siri will even intelligently tell you to consider it if it’s an app you haven’t used in a while.
Animoji, Memoji, & Messaging
Apple unveiled a number of new Animoji characters, the 3D emoji feature introduced alongside the iPhone X, as well as Memoji, which allow for users to create personalized Animoji via a comprehensive library of design options.
Animoji are deeply integrated into the new Messaging experience, allowing for users to take take photos using Animoji on their face and quickly use a new set of photo filters from both Apple and third-parties in Messaging.
iOS 12 includes the largest FaceTime update since it’s introduction eight years ago alongside the iPhone 4. The most significant update is group FaceTime, which allows for up to a whopping 32 participants to have a FaceTime call together. Like before, this feature works across Apple’s platforms, and like with the new Messaging app, you can now use Animoji within FaceTime calls.
iOS 12 is available for developers today and will release alongside updated iPhones at an event this September. Be sure to stay tuned to AppleToolbox for even more info on iOS 12 and all of Apple’s other announcements from WWDC.
Binyamin has been writing about Apple and the tech sector as a whole for over five years.
His work has been featured on Forbes, MacWorld, Giga, MacLife, and more.
Additionally, Goldman is the Founder of BZG, a software development company focusing on Apple devices.