Com­plete guide to IOS 12

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

Macworld - - 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, like “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 af­ter-hours 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.

Voice Me­mos is also com­ing to the ipad, with icloud sup­port to sync your voice record­ings be­tween de­vices.

ibooks has been rechris­tened Ap­ple Books, with a new de­sign to match the App Store and Ap­ple Mu­sic. A Read­ing Now sec­tion shows a pre­view of your book right at the page you left off, tempt­ing you to jump right back in. The store tabs for ebooks and au­dio­books are re­designed, too.

Carplay im­prove­ments

IOS 12 brings new fea­tures to Carplay, Ap­ple’s plat­form for in­ter­act­ing with your iphone via your car stereo. For the first time, Carplay will sup­port third-party nav­i­ga­tion apps such as Waze and Google Maps. That means you can get turn-by­turn di­rec­tions from your pre­ferred map­ping app, but there was no spe­cific men­tion of let­ting users set a third-party map­ping app as the de­fault when you ask for di­rec­tions.

Dig­i­tal Health fea­tures

Ap­ple’s im­prov­ing the Do Not Dis­turb fea­ture in IOS 12. If you go to check the time at night, for ex­am­ple,

DND Bed­time can just show you the time on a dark lock screen, sav­ing the no­ti­fi­ca­tions for later. (Pre­sum­ably you can still see them if you un­lock your phone in a fit of in­som­nia.) In the morn­ing, it even eases you in, with a lock screen that says good morn­ing and shows the time and tem­per­a­ture, un­til you tap it again to in­di­cate you’re ready for the full del­uge of no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Those no­ti­fi­ca­tions will be more or­ga­nized, though. IOS 12 sup­ports group­ing of no­ti­fi­ca­tions by type, topic, and thread. You can tap a group to ex­pand it, or even swipe a group to dis­miss the whole thing at once.

It’s much eas­ier to tweak how an app no­ti­fies you in IOS 12, too. Un­til now, you’ve had to dig into No­ti­fi­ca­tions and then find that app in a huge list of all your apps. It was frankly just eas­ier to delete an app that sent an­noy­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions than it was to go in and turn them off or edit their be­hav­iour.

In IOS 12, you can force-press a notification to tweak how that app’s no­ti­fi­ca­tions work. Siri will even proac­tively sug­gest you turn off no­ti­fi­ca­tions for apps you’re no longer us­ing.

IOS 12’s new Screen Time app (see page 32) will send users weekly reports about how they are us­ing their de­vices, in­clud­ing how many times you looked at your phone through­out the day, which app pulled you in each time, and even which apps send you the most no­ti­fi­ca­tions. You’ll be able to see how of­ten you use your apps, and at which times of day. If any of this data con­cerns you, you can set Time Lim­its for your­self.

Those lim­its ap­ply across iphones and ipads logged in with your icloud ac­count. Chil­dren will get their own ac­tiv­ity re­port, and a sep­a­rate one is sent to their par­ents’ de­vice. This uses Fam­ily Shar­ing, so par­ents can man­age the reports,

Time Lim­its, and new parental con­tent con­trols re­motely from their own de­vices.

These are wel­come changes, but they could be dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment if, say, your whole fam­ily shares an ipad, be­cause IOS 12 still doesn’t sup­port in­di­vid­ual user ac­counts, un­like macos.

If I have two chil­dren who each love the same app on the same ipad, there’s no way to give them each a time limit. Ap­ple may not be in a hurry to fix this, ei­ther, be­cause the ‘nat­u­ral’ so­lu­tion is to buy each child their own de­vice.

New An­i­moji, Me­moji, and fil­ters in Mes­sages

The Mes­sages app gets new An­i­moji char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing a koala, a tiger, a ghost, and a T-rex. Me­moji are like per­son­al­ized An­i­moji. They look more three-di­men­sional than the cus­tom Bit­moji you make in Snapchat, but much bet­ter-look­ing than the Mii char­ac­ters you make on a Nin­tendo con­sole.

Users can cus­tomize their Me­moji with hun­dreds of op­tions for skin

colour, hairstyle, fa­cial fea­tures, and ac­ces­sories like hats and glasses. You can save mul­ti­ple Me­moji and use them in Mes­sages to send re­ac­tions to your friends. The demo on­stage looked pretty good, even though the sun­glasses floated on the Me­moji face with­out stems go­ing be­hind the ears. Hey, sun­glasses of the fu­ture, right?

The Mes­sages app gets new fil­ters for send­ing photo and video re­sponses, and you can add stick­ers, too.

Group Facetime chats

In IOS 12, you can have a group Facetime chat with up to 32 to­tal par­tic­i­pants si­mul­ta­ne­ously, over au­dio or video. Facetime is even in­te­grated into Mes­sages, so if a group chat is get­ting un­wieldy, you can launch a group Facetime chat right from Mes­sages, or jump into a group call al­ready in progress.

A side-scrolling ros­ter along the bot­tom shows every­one in the chat if they don’t all fit on the screen at once. Float­ing tiles for each chat par­tic­i­pant get larger when that per­son speaks. You can also dou­ble­tap a tile to see that per­son front and cen­tre, in case you thought you saw them roll their eyes at you or

some­thing. From the Facetime cam­era, you can get to your An­i­moji, sticker packs, and ef­fects. Ever wanted to par­tic­i­pate in a meet­ing of koalas? Now you can. Ap­ple Watch users can an­swer Facetime au­dio calls di­rectly from their wrists, too.

Re­lease date

Ap­ple hasn’t yet an­nounced a re­lease date for IOS 12, but it typ­i­cally launches in Septem­ber – shortly af­ter the new batch of iphones is an­nounced, but be­fore the new iphones ship.

Sup­ported de­vices

If your de­vice runs IOS 11, it will run IOS 12. Ap­ple even prom­ises bet­ter speed and per­for­mance on older de­vices. In other words, Ap­ple says that apps should launch faster on an iphone 6 with IOS 12 than on an iphone 6 with IOS 11.

How to get IOS 12

Ap­ple has re­leased beta ver­sions to de­vel­op­ers, which they can get from the Ap­ple Devel­oper site. Pub­lic be­tas for reg­u­lar users fol­low the devel­oper be­tas, typ­i­cally launch­ing in July. If you want to join the beta test, head to beta.ap­ple.com. You can en­rol here, and down­load a spe­cial pro­file that will al­low your de­vice to down­load the beta re­leases. You’ll get a notification when one is ready, or you can check man­u­ally by go­ing to Set­tings > Gen­eral > Soft­ware Up­date.

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

You can use Me­moji in Mes­sages

You can Facetime chat with up to 32 peo­ple

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