iOS 12 has been out since September, and if you haven't downloaded it yet, you really should give it a try now. The new version of Apple’s mobile operating system isn’t a radical departure from iOS 11, but you'll still see some noteworthy changes that should enhance how you use your iPhone or iPad.
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 group FaceTime chats. With iOS 12.1 now available, there are even more features to explore. Here are some of the top new features to check out. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Apple has finally added a long-awaited group calls feature to FaceTime that lets you talk to up to 32 people at once. The feature got a preview at Apple's June developers conference, but wasn't in the initial iOS 12 update after beta testing revealed that group chats needed a little more fine-tuning. With iOS 12.1, though, our FaceTime group chat future has arrived.
Each user can employ a number of camera effects that are new to iOS and iMessage. You’ll have the ability to replace your head with an Animoji's or Memoji's, or use artistic filters for a cartoon-like effect. And FaceTime is now integrated into iMessage, so you can instantly and easily start a FaceTime call with an existing iMessage group with the tap of a button. And if you're worried about getting lost in that sea of faces, Apple says that FaceTime uses AI to detect who's speaking, automatically bringing them to the front of the conversation. Other participants' images get resized depending on how active they are in the conversation. (Image Credit: Apple)
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 have joined 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 introduces 70 new emoji. The new additions include 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 will 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)
Portrait mode in the iPhone's Camera app can produce some very stylish shots with an artistically blurred background. But what if you'd like to fine-tune the look of your photo? iOS 12.1 adds a Depth Control feature that lets anyone with an iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max adjust the depth of field in a photo, whether that's when you're previewing your shot or after you've captured your image. Apple says Depth Control will also be available for the front TrueDepth camera, so you'll be able to make similar adjustments on selfies. (Image Credit: Apple)
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 ran some tests using the iOS 12 beta on an iPhone 6s this past summer and noticed that many apps launched faster once we upgraded to the new OS 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. (Image Credit: Apple)