iOS 12’s hid­den fea­tures worth get­ting ex­cited about

Not ev­ery iOS 12 fea­ture is a head­line-grab­ber, but some­times it’s the lit­tle things that mat­ter most. Ja­son Cross re­ports

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

It looks like iOS 12 may shape up to be one of Ap­ple’s best re­leases in years. It’s not a com­plete over­haul of the iOS ecosys­tem, but rather a wel­come re­fine­ment on iOS 11. It takes the big steps from the iPhone X and iOS 11 – like An­i­moji and ARKit – and ex­tends them in ways that make them truly use­ful.

We’ve al­ready seen the big iOS 12 fea­tures, but there’s a lot more to un­pack. There are a host of small

changes, tweaks, and fea­tures that should bring smiles to your faces, re­mind­ing all of us that lit­tle bits of pol­ish and re­fine­ment are what make iOS a de­light to use. Here’s a list of hid­den de­lights await­ing you when it’s re­leased in the au­tumn.

Au­to­matic Up­dates

Af­ter up­grad­ing to iOS 12, you’ll find a new menu item la­belled Au­to­matic Up­dates, which de­faults to be­ing en­abled. Will iOS 12 be the first to al­low your iPhone to just up­date it­self silently in the back­ground (prob­a­bly when plugged in and con­nected to Wi‑ Fi)? Does this mean no more nag­ging users to in­stall mi­nor point re­leases and se­cu­rity patches? We look for­ward to see­ing what Au­to­matic Up­dates de­liv­ers.

More Siri ac­cents

In iOS 11, you can change Siri’s voice to be male or fe­male, and to have one of three dif­fer­ent ac­cents: Amer­i­can, Aus­tralian, or Bri­tish. Just head to Set­tings > Siri & Search > Siri Voice.

In iOS 12, that same menu has five ac­cents listed; the ad­di­tional ac­cents are Ir­ish and South African. Imag­ine get­ting your traf­fic re­port in an Ir­ish brogue.

Clos­ing apps on iPhone X made easy

One of the odd quirks of the iPhone X’s ges­ture in­ter­face is the way you close apps. In iOS 11, you have to swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen to show all your app cards in the mul­ti­task­ing menu. Then, if you swipe up on one, it doesn’t close the app as the sim­i­lar ges­ture does on any other iPhone or iPad.

Rather, you have to press and hold on the stack for a sec­ond un­til the lit­tle close icons ap­pear in the up­per left. Then you can tap on those or swipe up on app cards to close the app. If you just swipe up on a card, it closes the mul­ti­task­ing menu with­out clos­ing the app. That be­hav­iour is gone in iOS 12. Once you bring up the mul­ti­task­ing menu, swip­ing up on a card im­me­di­ately closes the app, as you would ex­pect it to. This is in line with the way other iPhones and iPads op­er­ate.

iPad ges­tures match iPhone X

In iOS 11, the iPad got a se­ries of ges­tures that are some­what unique. Swipe up from the bot­tom edge, just a lit­tle, to show the dock. Swipe up a lot and you see the mul­ti­task­ing menu with all your run­ning apps, along with the Con­trol Cen­tre on the right.

With iOS 12, swip­ing up any­where on the dock will bring you back to the home screen. That’s not ex­actly like the iPhone X’s ‘home area’ swipe, but it’s very close (and the ex­panded swipe area makes sense on the larger iPad de­vices). To open the Con­trol Cen­tre, you swipe down from the up­per-right edge, just as you do on the iPhone X. This brings some unity to the ges­tures on iOS de­vices, but it also gives us a hint of the fu­ture of the iPad. If Ap­ple was go­ing to re­lease a new iPad Pro that has Face ID and no more Touch ID (and thus no home but­ton), it would need a ‘re­turn to home screen’ ges­ture just like this one.

Swipe up to retry Face ID

One frus­tra­tion of the iPhone X’s new Face ID un­lock­ing fea­ture it that if your iPhone tries to read your face

be­fore you’re ready and it fails – maybe be­cause you’re cov­er­ing your mouth – you’re stuck look­ing at a pass­code screen. You have to ei­ther put your iPhone X to sleep and wake it up again to retry Face ID, or turn it far away from your face and back again.

It’s a small an­noy­ance, but one that is nonethe­less smoothed out con­sid­er­ably with a sim­ple de­sign change in iOS 12. If Face ID tries and fails, you’ll still get the pass­code screen, but with a prompt to sim­ply swipe up to try Face ID again. Af­ter three failed Face ID at­tempts, you have to en­ter your pass­code, though.

Al­ter­nate ap­pear­ance for Face ID

Speak­ing of Face ID, there’s a new Ap­pear­ances sec­tion in the Face ID set­tings page, with a sin­gle op­tion: Set Up an Al­ter­nate Ap­pear­ance.

It seems in­tended to make Face ID more re­li­able for those who tend to dra­mat­i­cally change their look more rad­i­cally than the learn­ing al­go­rithm in Face ID can cope with. On face value alone, it wouldn’t seem to of­fer the flex­i­bil­ity of Touch ID’s abil­ity to reg­is­ter 10 dif­fer­ent fin­ger­prints, but it’s cer­tainly enough to al­low you and, say, your part­ner to have ac­cess to the same iPhone X.

Locking out USB ac­ces­sories

Law en­force­ment groups (and who knows what other groups) have been us­ing de­vices such as GrayKey (see iPad&iPhoneUser 132) to gain ac­cess to locked iPhones with­out the pass­code. There’s no telling what other sim­i­lar de­vices can break into your locked, en­crypted iPhone.

The lat­est salvo from Ap­ple in the never-end­ing bat­tle for your pri­vacy is a new fea­ture in iOS 12 that dis­ables ac­cess from all USB de­vices if your de­vice has been locked for more than an hour.

It’s an im­por­tant se­cu­rity ad­vance­ment: One hour is plenty of time for reg­u­lar users to do USB‑re­lated func­tions such as back up or re­store, but al­most cer­tainly not enough time for USB‑based iPhone crack­ing de­vices to break into your phone.

Call and Face­Time short­cuts in Mes­sages

Have you ever been mes­sag­ing some­one and de­cide you want to call or Face­Time them? It’s a pain. You have

to close the app, open Phone or Face­Time, find the per­son again, or you can pull up a whole Contacts card with pho­tos and ev­ery­thing, and call or Face­Time from there. Mes­sages in iOS 12 stream­lines this. The icon for the per­son you’re mes­sag­ing ap­pears at the top of the screen. Tap on it to ex­pand a lit­tle menu of handy short­cuts: au­dio call, Face­Time, or info.

Lyrics search in Ap­ple Mu­sic

Ap­ple Mu­sic re­mains largely un­changed in iOS 12, but now you get the abil­ity to search for songs by lyrics. There are mil­lions of tracks in Ap­ple Mu­sic that have lyrics data, and if you don’t know the name of a song but know how it goes, iOS 12 makes it a whole lot eas­ier to find.

Hey, it’s not cross-fade or smart playlists or the in­ter­face re­design we want. But there are mil­lions of tracks in Ap­ple Mu­sic that have lyrics data, and if you don’t know the name of a song but know how it goes, iOS 12 makes it a whole lot eas­ier to find.

Fav­i­cons on Sa­fari tabs

Weirdly, Sa­fari on macOS and iOS does not show Fav­i­cons (those lit­tle site‑spe­cific icons) in tabs. It’s a frus­trat­ing bit of in­ter­face weird­ness that Ap­ple users have had to deal with for ages, be­cause they are sup­ported by ev­ery other mod­ern browser.

That’s fi­nally get­ting fixed in macOS Mo­jave and iOS 12. If you en­able a Show Icons in Tabs tog­gle in Set­tings, you’re brows­ing like it’s the year 2000.

No­ti­fi­ca­tion group­ing set­tings per app

One of the best fea­tures of iOS 12 is that apps are grouped by app (or some­times by type, like a mes­sage thread). This is not an on‑or‑off, all‑or‑noth­ing af­fair,

though. You can tog­gle no­ti­fi­ca­tion group­ing per app by look­ing in each app’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion set­tings. This means you’ll be able to have most of your no­ti­fi­ca­tions groups, but un­group some apps (like your video door­bell or se­cu­rity cam­eras, for ex­am­ple) if you want to see all their no­ti­fi­ca­tions in a row.

Retry­ing a Face ID un­lock is eas­ier in iOS 12

If you don’t know the name of that song but know how it goes, you can prob­a­bly find it in Ap­ple Mu­sic

We thought we would never live to see Fav­i­cons In Sa­fari

No­ti­fi­ca­tion group­ing isn’t just on or off. You can ad­just it per app

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