iOS 12 is out, and ready for you to download. And while the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system isn’t a radical departure from iOS 11, you can expect some noteworthy changes, especially as Apple continues to roll out updates to its latest mobile OS.
With iOS 12, Apple is making serious improvements across the board to its mobile OS, including faster performance on older iPhones, new predictive Siri features, Memoji, tools that help users be more mindful of the time they spend on their devices and (eventually) group FaceTime chats. iOS 12.1, coming soon to an iPhone near you, figures to introduce more changes. Here are some of the top new features to check out. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Responsible phone and app usage has been a hot-button issue as of late, with Google introducing its own user wellness initiative with Android P. Likewise, iOS 12 introduces Digital Health, which manifests itself across Apple's mobile OS in a few different ways. There's Screen Time, which allows you to place a limit on how much you use certain apps. You can also monitor your habits with the help of a weekly activity report, which offers insights on which apps dominate your screen-on time, battery and send the most notifications.
Speaking of notifications, iOS 12 will now show lock screen notifications overnight without waking the entirety of the display. If you have this feature enabled, alerts on your lock screen will present themselves in a minimized fashion while you're sleeping, resembling simple white text on a stark black background, without your wallpaper illuminating the room. And when you wake up, you'll see a good morning message that shows the weather and everything you might've missed. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Apple copying Samsung copying Apple — that's one way to look at Memoji, which is a new form of Animoji that you design yourself. Similar to Samsung's AR Emoji feature on the Galaxy S9 and Note 9, you can create your Memoji with a selection of hairstyles, skin tones, glasses, hats and the like. And as you're building your Memoji, you can see your virtual form take shape in real time, emulating your movements and mannerisms. Already, we think Memoji look smoother than Samsung's stilted and unnatural Animoji.
On iOS 12, four new Animoji join the party — tiger, T-rex, ghost and koala. Then there's the strange, strange addition of Tongue Detection, which is exactly what it sounds like: You stick out your tongue, and your Animoji (or Memoji) will as well. If you send selfies to a friend in iMessage, you'll also be able to superimpose your Memoji over your head in a picture. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
People can't get enough of emoji, as a glance at all the emoticons cluttering up your Messages app should confirm. And an upcoming tweak to iOS 12 is going to give emoji-hungry users even more way to express themselves. iOS 12.1, already available in beta form for both developers and people who participate in the iOS public beta program, introduces 70 new emoji. The new additions feature everything from people with red, gray and curly hair to new sports including lacross and softball. If you've ever found yourself scrolling through a list of emoji and thinking, "If only there was a llama emoji at my disposal," then iOS 12.1 is going to be the answer to your prayers. (Image Credit: Apple)
Previous versions of iOS could drown you in a sea of notifications if you weren’t careful. But iOS 12 improves things by giving you more control over which notifications you see. When you get a notification from a particularly pushy app in iOS 12, you can swipe left and tap the new Manage button. That gives you the option of having iOS 12 deliver future notifications quietly: they’ll still show up in Notification Center, but they won’t make your iPhone buzz nor will they distract you by flashing up on the screen. iOS 12 also groups notifications from the same app, making it easier to manage them when they pile up. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Apple says improving performance was a primary area of concentration for iOS 12 — not just in the latest models with the best hardware, but especially for the older ones. In fact, the company highlighted one example — the iPhone 6 Plus — which could see 40 percent faster app launch times, 50 percent faster keyboard launch times and 70 percent faster camera launch times from the lock screen with iOS 12.The processor will also ramp up performance much faster than on iOS 11, and shut it down just as quickly to conserve battery life as much as possible.
We’ve tested the beta on an iPhone 6s and noticed that many apps launched faster once we upgraded to the iOS 12 beta from iOS 11. The phone didn’t unlock any faster in our testing, and there’s no impact on synthetic benchmarks, but Apple seems to have delivered on the promise of making your older phone a little bit more responsive with iOS 12 — and that’s before the finished version of the OS arrives. (Image Credit: Apple)
Remember Workflow? Apple bought the developers behind the popular automation app last year, and the new Siri Shortcuts operate in a similar way. Users can create a progression of actions in apps that carry themselves automatically when certain conditions are met, like messaging someone, setting the thermostat and firing up your favorite podcast when you leave work. (A dedicated Shortcuts app wasn't been part of the public beta yet, so we're looking forward to trying it out now that developers have had a chance to play with it.)
There’s also Siri Suggestions, which serves up context-aware recommendations for certain scenarios. For example, when Siri knows you have a Calendar event to see a movie, it recommends turning on Do Not Disturb mode when it starts. Or, if you make a phone call at a certain time each day, Siri brings up that call as a suggestion at the appropriate time. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Updates to Siri go beyond shortcuts and suggestions. As part of its annual effort to smarten up its digital assistant, Apple has expanded Siri’s knowledge base to include information about Nascar and other motor sports, celebrities, and food. (Siri can now tell you how many calories are in that Big Mac you’re about to eat, for example.) Siri’s also able to look up passwords, after you’ve provided the necessary biometric proof that you’re you. These changes aren’t likely to allow Siri to catch up to Google Assistant, but they do make iOS’s built-in digital assistant a more useful helper. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)