This is been the busiest Apple news week of 2018. While Apple on 12 September announced its brand new lineup of iPhones called the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max and the all new iPhone XR, the brand new iOS 12 was made available to all on 17 September.
The operating system was announced this year at Apple’s annual developer event, the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) with some new features, plenty of improvements and performance updates that made developers clap twice as much as compared to the previous WWDC event.
Before we help you out with updating your iOS device, let's have a quick look at what's in-store.
The focus just like last year has been on fixing the mess that iOS 11 left behind (which was supposed to fix iOS 10) and removing some of the annoyances like the messed up notifications system.
The majority of the new features involve fixes and a some are to do with delayed revamps of the long-ignored Stocks and iBooks apps. Apple like Google, has also focussed on a digital detox, with improvements to DND, grouped notifications and a new feature called Screen time.
1. Performance Improvements
Performance improvements have been made system-wide, and according to Apple, iOS 12 can launch the camera 70 percent faster with the keyboard also popping up 50 percent faster along with typing now being more responsive. Apps too will launch twice as fast and these improvements will be available across a wide range of devices, all the way back from the iPhone 5s till the latest and the overwhelmingly expensive, iPhone XS Max.
2. Shared AR experiences
Apple with iOS 12 has now made augmented reality (AR) into a shared experience. No longer will you be alone in your augmented reality experience, your friends can now join you. A demo by Lego’s Martin Sanders back at WWDC had showcased how the collaborative experience brings toys in the real world to life, letting you share and collaborate those AR experience by adding friends to the mix. Apple has also announced a new file format for AR in collaboration with Pixar called USDZ. USDZ makes it possible to share AR experiences across messaging apps, the web and more making dealing with AR content a lot easier.
3. Memoji and Camera Effects
In what may seem like a rip off from the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus’s AR Emoji, Apple introduced its own Memoji. However, Memoji’s are a lot more detailed and more accurate than the former but have to be personalized and generated by the user, unlike Samsung’s AR Emoji that is automatically generated. While Memoji’s seemed like an epic waste of time, there was also some new Camera Effects which are very similar to the AR stickers one would find on most Chinese smartphones these days. Apple’s implementation thanks to its True Depth Camera is a lot more detailed and accurate with great looking filters.
4. Group FaceTime
If you still have been using FaceTime to connect with friends and family, there’s some good news for you! Apple has finally introduced Group FaceTime with a cool new interface that lets users of the group chat know who is in control of the conversation. Participants can be added or removed at any time during the call, and those cool Memoji and Camera Effects can be used in here as well.
5. Siri Shortcuts
While Siri hasn’t gotten any smarter, it has become a bit proactive in iOS 12. Expect to Siri Shortcuts to annoy you from time to time with updates, orders or even ask you to switch to DND mode while watching a movie in the theatre. It’s all about providing one touch access to critical app actions before time.
Perhaps that biggest addition to iOS 12 and Siri is the almost IFTT-like, ability to customise these Siri Shortcuts. The Shortcuts editor basically lets you create a series of actions from different apps that can be carried out with a simple voice command or just a single tap.
Photos has become smarter in an almost Google Photos like way with iOS 12. There are now new sections with a new ‘For You’ tab that brings all your favourite moments in one place. A new and innovative sharing system makes it easier to share photos with friends. Friends who receive photos are prompted to share back any photos and videos they have from the same trip or event. Photo does this by simply scanning through your images and identifying your friends in your recently clicked photos. Search Suggestions have also been introduced in iOS 12. Suggestions surface the most relevant Events, People, Places, Groups, Categories and recent searches, and new search functionality lets users combine multiple search terms to find the right photos.
7. Digital Detox: DND, Notifications and Screen Time
Apple has built in couple of tools and improved the existing ones to help you make the most of your time spent on an Apple device and even the time you spend away from it.
There’s an improved Do Not Disturb (DND) mode with a new Bedtime feature which dims the display to help users get a better night’s sleep. It will also smartly hide notifications on the lockscreen so that users do not end up checking their phones in the middle of the night.
Notifications have also gotten a lot smarter with iOS 12 allowing users to control how they are delivered. Notifications can now be delivered quietly or grouped to make swiping them off easier in one go.
Apple has also added a new feature called Screen Time to help users get a better understanding of their app usage and the time spend using the phone and apps. This is very similar to the Android P’s user Dashboard feature that works in a similar manner with the same goal in mind.
Apart from showing daily and weekly Activity Reports, the feature also shows users how many times their iPhone or iPad is picked up, which is pretty cool.
Even cooler or annoying (depending on which side you are on) is the feature’s ability to control or restrict app usage, letting parents schedule times to when a child can use their iOS device.
Apple News now comes with a redesign. It has been made more suitable for iPad use. You will now see a new Browse tab, which according to Apple, will make it easier to jump to favourites. Also, there is a new sidebar option.
9. Safari and Privacy
Apple’s fight with ads and tracking software continues with iOS 12, with enhanced Intelligent Tracking Prevention that helps block social media “Like” or “Share” buttons and comment widgets from tracking users without permission. Safari now also automatically creates, autofills and stores strong passwords when users create new online accounts and flags reused passwords so users can change them.
10. Stocks, Voice Memos and Apple Books
While Apple Books gets a complete revamp, it was interesting to see the revamped Voice Memos app come to the iPad with added iCloud support for syncing recordings between devices. The old Stocks apps also got a revamp and now comes with integrated News to bring news related to the stocks being followed right within the app.
The update will be available today, that is 17 September onwards. You don't need to buy Apple's new devices, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or the iPhone XR in order to experience the Apple iOS 12. All the iPhones — iPhone 5s onwards, will be compatible with the operating system.
Here is a list of all the devices that are compatible with iOS 12.
How to get the iOS 12 update?
There are two ways that you can do this, the simplest way being — updating via the over-the-air method. For this, you will have to head to Settings, then tap General, and go to Software Update. Here, Apple's servers will let you know if the update is available and you can then, download and install.
The second way to do this is by plugging your device into your Mac or PC. You will need the most up to date version iTunes for this process. Once you connect your device to your computer via USB cable, open iTunes. When your device is recognised, there will be an option 'Check for Update,' clicking on which will lead to a bunch of on-screen instructions that you should follow. iOS 12 will be downloaded by iTunes, and get installed it on your device. Do make sure to keep your device connected to the Mac or PC at all times.
To conclude, one can say that Apple iOS 12 has chosen, like it does, to focus on performance instead of adding new and innovative features to an OS that seems to have started ageing over time.
If you are someone who is interested in the new devices but are not sure which one to buy, head here for some help.
Also, Apple launched a product which looks way more exciting than the new iPhones — head here to find out.