Com­plete guide to iOS 12

Ap­ple prom­ises faster per­for­mance for older phones, plus im­prove­ments in Siri, Face­Time and more, writes Susie Ochs

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Ap­ple both sets trends and chases them, and iOS 12, un­veiled at the WWDC key­note, is no ex­cep­tion. With this re­lease, the firm is fo­cus­ing on per­for­mance im­prove­ments and en­hance­ments, even for older de­vices. The com­pany is also mak­ing im­por­tant changes to aug­mented re­al­ity that will en­able new ex­pe­ri­ences; im­prov­ing Siri, Face­Time, and the Pho­tos app to catch up to the com­pe­ti­tion; and adding new fea­tures such as per­son­al­ized Me­moji and weekly re­ports about how you’re us­ing

your de­vice. iOS 12 will be a free up­date for all users this au­tumn, and it’s sup­ported by ev­ery de­vice that runs iOS 11, all the way back to the iPhone 5s re­leased in 2013. Here’s a run­down of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem’s big­gest im­prove­ments.

Aug­mented re­al­ity and the Mea­sure app

Ap­ple has cre­ated a brand‑new file for­mat with Pixar called USDZ that will en­able eas­ier shar­ing of the 3D graph­ics and an­i­ma­tions used in aug­mented re­al­ity apps. Devel­op­ers and users can share th­ese USDZ files like any other files: store them in the Files app, and send them in Mes­sages and Mail. When you re­ceive a USDZ file, you can open it and place the 3D ob­ject in the real world. “It’s sort of like AR Quick Look,” ex­plained Craig Fed­erighi.

For ex­am­ple, if a pub­lisher places a USDZ im­age into an ar­ti­cle in the News app, read­ers can tap it to open it in a fully in­ter­ac­tive AR view, right in­side News. An­other ex­am­ple shown was Fender us­ing a USDZ ob­ject on its web­site, where po­ten­tial buy­ers can tap it to view the prod­uct from all an­gles, shown in an aug­mented re­al­ity view in the room they’re in, in ac­tual size.

Users can also try the all‑new Mea­sure app to mea­sure the di­men­sions of phys­i­cal ob­jects us­ing AR. You just trace the sides of an ob­ject to find out how long they are. It can also de­tect rec­tan­gles au­to­mat­i­cally and tell you the di­men­sions.

For devel­op­ers, ARKit 2.0 will en­able im­proved face track­ing, more re­al­is­tic ren­der­ing, as well as shared ex­pe­ri­ences, which means AR games can now sup­port mul­ti­player modes. Both play­ers can see the

same ob­jects on their own de­vices, and those ob­jects can have per­sis­tence, so they reap­pear in the same place the next time you use the same app.

Im­prove­ments to the Pho­tos app

Ap­ple’s Pho­tos app gets a re­fresh in iOS 12, match­ing the de­sign lan­guage of Ap­ple Mu­sic and the App Store. Search in Pho­tos will be im­proved, let­ting you use mul­ti­ple search terms and search your photo li­brary quicker us­ing Siri.

The Pho­tos app has a new For You tab, which is a feed that shows fea­tured pho­tos, like im­ages you took on the same day in pre­vi­ous years. It sug­gests loops and bounce ef­fects for Live Pho­tos that could use them, or por­trait ef­fects to add to Por­trait Mode pho­tos. It also high­lights shared iCloud al­bum ac­tiv­ity. All th­ese fea­tures are in the Google Pho­tos app al­ready, so they are wel­come ad­di­tions to iOS 12, but noth­ing that has us shocked.

Pho­tos al­ready rec­og­nizes other peo­ple in your im­ages, and in iOS 12, it will sug­gest you share those pho­tos with those peo­ple. Im­ages you share ar­rive in full res­o­lu­tion. When your friend gets them, her phone will sug­gest shar­ing pho­tos

taken at the same event right back to you, which will help you gather more pho­tos from the same party with­out hav­ing to set up a shared al­bum, or email or text im­ages back and forth. The shar­ing is pri­vate with end-to-end encryption, and all the ma­chine learn­ing to de­ter­mine who’s in your pho­tos is done on your de­vice, not in the cloud.

Siri im­prove­ments

When Ap­ple bought Work­flow in 2017, we were hop­ing iOS would even­tu­ally get the kind of ro­bust au­toma­tions it en­abled. And now it’s time: iOS 12 fea­tures big im­prove­ments for Siri that can speed up tasks in a sin­gle app, as well as let you build rou­tines that use mul­ti­ple apps, launched with a sin­gle Siri com­mand. Siri’s third‑party app sup­port has been limited so far, so this should be huge for iOS users.

With Siri Short­cuts, any app can ex­pose quick ac­tions to Siri. Fed­erighi gave the ex­am­ple of the Tile app, which you have to launch when you want to lo­cate your Tile tracker. Now the Tile app can sug­gest a Siri Short­cut to lo­cate your tracker, and you can set a cus­tom Siri com­mand, such as “I lost my keys”. Now when you tell Siri that phrase, a card launches with that screen in Tile, and you can see where the tracker is, and in­ter­act with the card, with­out even hav­ing to open the full app un­less you want to. Other ex­am­ples of­fered were an “or­der my gro­ceries” com­mand to place an or­der in an app like In­stacart, or “help me re­lax” to launch your favourite med­i­ta­tion app.

Siri Sug­ges­tions are also im­proved in iOS 12 to an­tic­i­pate your next ac­tions based on your history.

The sug­ges­tions can ap­pear on your lock screen and no­ti­fi­ca­tions screen, and you can tap one to take care of that ac­tion with­out hav­ing to launch an app. It can sug­gest you call rel­a­tives on their birthdays. If you’re late to a meet­ing, it can send a text to the or­ga­nizer to let them know, or call into the meet­ing if a call‑in num­ber was pro­vided in the in­vite. If you or­der a cof­fee with the same app ev­ery morn­ing, a Siri Sug­ges­tion will pop up that you can tap to jump right there.

The new Short­cuts app also lets you com­bine ac­tions from mul­ti­ple apps into one rou­tine, which you then trig­ger with a Siri com­mand. For ex­am­ple, if you say, “I’m go­ing surf­ing”, the rou­tine can check the surf re­port with the Sur­fline app, read you the cur­rent weather, grab an ETA for your drive to the beach, and then make a note in Re­minders to tell you to put on sun cream when you get there.

The Short­cuts app has a gallery full of pre-made short­cuts, as well as a li­brary you can search. Rou­tines can com­bine ser­vices such as tex­ting, map­ping, HomeKit, mu­sic, you name it. You can search for items to add, or the app can sug­gest them to you based on ma­chine learn­ing. In the on-stage demon­stra­tion of

set­ting up a ‘head­ing home’ rou­tine for an evening com­mute, the app sug­gested launch­ing the KQED app to play some NPR, be­cause that’s what the user usu­ally did at that time of day.

Im­prove­ments to News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Ap­ple Books

A few Ap­ple apps will be re­designed in iOS 12, some launch­ing on the iPad for the first time.

In the News app, the Browse tab will make it eas­ier to dis­cover new chan­nels and top­ics to fol­low. The For You tab makes it eas­ier to jump to your favourite sources, es­pe­cially on the iPad, which gets a handy new side­bar.

The Stocks app has a new de­sign, with spark lines next to each of your picks, show­ing their per­for­mance through­out the day. Stocks also has a news mod­ule along the bot­tom, with cu­rated busi­ness sto­ries cho­sen by the Ap­ple News team. When you ex­pand the news mod­ule, your stocks run hor­i­zon­tally along the top of the screen like a ticker. You can also tap any stock to see an in­ter­ac­tive chart, new af­ter­hours pric­ing, and rel­e­vant head­lines cu­rated by the ed­i­tors. Full ar­ti­cles open with­out leav­ing the Stocks app. iOS 12 also brings Stocks to the iPad for the first time.

The Pho­tos app looks a lot more like Ap­ple Mu­sic, with proac­tive sug­ges­tions in the For You tab

The Short­cuts app lets you cre­ate your own multi-app work­flows that you can run with a cus­tom Siri com­mand

The Stocks app has been re­designed

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