Apple has just released the final version of iOS 12 into the world. As we know, software updates are primarily to sort out issues and boost performance, but that’s not all you’ll get with the newest iOS update. Apple’s annual update is more of an upgrade, throwing in a raft of new features in addition to tiny under-the-hood fixes that you may never notice — unless you make a point of reading all of the fine print.
Although this update is really all about making your phone (or tablet) work better, there are also an array of new features that should tickle your iFancy.
How to update right now
The update is rolling out now, and is available both over-the-air (OTA) in the Settings app, and by plugging your device into iTunes for a wired update (for a better, cabled network connection — which will likely go much faster).
Just a side note — before downloading iOS 12 on your iDevice, make sure to back up all your precious data, either on iTunes or using your iCloud account (the method hasn’t changed much since last year, the common sense definitely hasn’t). Once you’ve taken care of (backup) business, the update is available to download on any device that can run iOS 11 (so the iPhone 5s and later, and all except the earliest iPads).
Because many people try to snag these major updates at the same time, Apple normally implements a queuing system that ensures a quick download, but only once you’re in the front of the virtual queue. As a result, you might find yourself delayed a tiny bit by Apple’s servers.
What can iOS 12 do?
The main feature of iOS 12 is a performance improvement (obvs), especially for older devices. If you have an iPhone 6 or an iPad Air for instance, you’ll probably appreciate more speedy processes like opening apps and browsing social media.
Apple also wants you to use your phone less — or at least keep you better informed about just how addicted to it you are — and is introducing the Screen Time feature that monitors how much time you spend using each app. Your notifications are now grouped and you can silence them from the lock screen. You also can turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ when you’re in a meeting, for a set amount of time.
Screen Time is very easy to use. Just enable it in Settings and then you’ll be presented with your usage, for the day or week, with your app and major website usage time shown as data. Screen Time will also let you know how many times you’ve picked up (and unlocked and modified) your phone in a day.
Apple’s digital wellness features also includes App Limits, which can be found under the Screen Time option in Settings. You’ll be able to lock down your most-used apps here, based on the information that Screen Time has collected about your habits, by setting a daily timer. But you’ll still have to agree to actually stop using the app, since you’re given the option to just ignore App Limits’ instructions. At least you’ll probably feel bad about it.
You and Memoji
There’s also a new feature called Memoji on the iPhone X (and the newer phones, when they arrive later this month), which is a custom avatar (or Animoji) of your face. Yeah, in typical Apple fashion they’re a little late to the party, right Samsung?
Then there’s Siri Shortcuts, which you’ll need to download after you’ve done the update itself. It essentially replaces Workflow, and is used to create tasks that you can trigger with a custom command to do things like send an SMS, play a podcast and get directions to a birthday party. Kinda like IFTTT.
You’ll also have a built-in tape measure, and people have already been using it to measure everything… and we mean everything. The measuring app uses augmented reality to measure real-world objects. It does seem… accurate. How you feel about that is up to you to decide… and may depend on what you point it at.
If you live in the Apple-realm and have a compatible device, you should have already received a prompt to update to iOS 12, and if you haven’t, you might still be rocking an iPhone 4. Once you’ve got iOS 12 all nicely squared away, you’ll have plenty of time today to measure your household pets.