Apple’s iOS 12 took centre stage at this year’s WWDC conference, with a large collection of updates and upgrades coming to the mobile operating system. There’s nothing especially ground-breaking on the way but the changes that are coming are welcome ones.
We’ve collected the best of the new features on the cards for iOS devices here so you know what to expect from the update when it launches later this year. If you’re feeling brave, you’ll likely want to take a crack at the earlier beta but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, here’s what’s coming.
Apple has learned its lesson from last year. iOS 12 is going to improve the performance on all of the devices it is compatible with — which means all Apple iPhones back to the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple’s claiming faster app launches, as well as quicker keyboard and camera opening. As far as supported devices go, if your phone has iOS 11 (or supports it), it’ll run iOS 12.
AR Improvements: Multiplayer, Standardised Format
Apple is betting big on their augmented reality features, with ARKit 2.0 on the way. First, something for the devs and serious nerds: ARKit is getting a specific file format, one that has been collaborated on by Apple, digital wizards Pixar and Adobe. Called USDZ, it’ll allow for AR content to be created for Apple’s devices. Time will tell if the file format jumps to other products.
AR is the basis of Apple’s new Measure app, which allows you to… well, measure things. Accurately, using only an iPhone. Object detection has been improved, as has facial tracking, with the 2.0 update and those improvements leading to the biggest change for AR — multiplayer. Apple showed off an AR-focused Lego game (which will become available later this year) which can be played by two or more people (up to four). The environment is static, meaning that multiple players can share the same play-space. You can even just watch, if you like. Play areas can even remain static in between sessions — if you place a virtual object somewhere, it’ll still be there when you return.
Digital assistant Siri is getting a revamp, with a new Shortcuts feature being the highlight. Shortcuts lets users tailor responses from Siri, letting you build tasks that Siri will execute with a voice command. Apple showed off activating a Tile, allowing for the easy location of missing keys, as well as getting weather reports and reminders for various tasks. You’ll have to set them up on your own but the end result of a little effort should be a lot of time saved.
Apple’s Photos is taking a few pages from Google’s book. Photos is getting a search feature that will suggest search terms for you. It’ll also suggest filters and effects for shots, as well as sharing options. Google already does most of this but at least Apple users didn’t have to wait that long to join the party.
About Digital Health…
Apple is changing the way that you see notifications in iOS 12, with more intelligent grouping of updates. If you’ve placed the phone in Do Not Disturb mode, you can opt to have that setting curate notifications as well.
App usage reports are going to be baked in and users will be able to use App Limits to cut down on screen time for a specific app, should it be cutting in on valuable working or sleeping time. These can be suggestions in the case of adults or hard limits in the case of kids (and some adults). Kids’ usage can be seriously (and effectively) limited with the Screen Time option, which allows for a parent to lock down and set limited on kids from a main device. Want to make sure that only calls and certain software are allowed at certain times? Screen Time will make it happen.
Animated Animoji Level Up
Animoji are of course going to be changing a little. Memoji is the next thing from Apple, a little customised avatar that will conform to your facial movements — right down to your tongue, since Apple has gone and developed tongue detection for 2018. The idea is that you’ll create your custom character and then use a little digital ‘you’ (suitably embellished or enhanced, we guess) to send goofy images to friends and family. There are also a few new Animoji coming — expect to see a ghost, a T-Rex, and a few other friendly er… faces. Sadly, it seems that this lot is limited to the iPhone X. For now.
FaceTime Gets A Lot More Faces
Want to talk to loads of people, face-to-face? No more will you need to troop off to a meeting room, as long as everyone has an iOS 12 iPhone. FaceTime is getting a wide upgrade that will see up to 32 people talking together on a single call. And you won’t be restricted to the iPhone and iPad — macOS devices will be able to play too. If you’ve got a load of folks on a call, their image will get larger while they’re talking and drop back into the background when it is someone else’s turn. And if everyone talks at once? We can’t wait to find out what happens.