On Monday at its annual developer conference, WWDC, Apple announced the next major update to the iPhone and iPad: iOS 12, the annual upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.
The update, likely to arrive this spring, includes some major new features, along with several incremental changes designed to make using your device a lot easier.
Among the notable additions: a standalone Measure app that’s like a virtual tape measure, third-party app support for CarPlay, grouped notifications, and customisable animated avatars called memoji.
Here are all the new features included in iOS 12.
Apple is adding a brand-new app called Measure.
Measure helps you take measurements of real-world objects. The app uses your iPhone’s camera to virtually take accurate readings, letting you see the width, length, and height of things just by tapping your screen.
Plus, if you point Measure at a photo, it will automatically detect it and tell you the dimensions.
Apple is making the Photos app smarter and more interactive.
Apple made a bunch of subtle updates to the Photos app, putting it on par with apps like the popular Google Photos:
- Search suggestions. The app will recommend searching for people, places, categories, business names, sporting events, or concerts. When you select a term, the app will pull up all photos related to that term.
- Search refinements. You can search with multiple search terms too.
- For You. The app will automatically generate personalised items like memory movies, features photos, and “on this day” images.
- Sharing suggestions. The Photos app will suggest photos and videos to share with the people who are in them. When someone accepts the images from you, they will get a recommendation to share their photos back with you. Apple says that sharing is end-to-end encrypted and works via iMessage.
Apple’s adding Siri Shortcuts to help you speed up your day.
Siri Shortcuts is a way to get things done more quickly. Siri will automatically suggest actions based on how and when you use certain apps. If, for instance, you order a coffee every morning around the same time, Siri will start asking you if you’re ready to order it.
Apple will have several preloaded Siri Shortcuts, or you’ll be able to create your own verbal shortcuts. A phrase like “Help me relax” will trigger a meditation app, or the phrase “Find my keys” will open up the Tile app and start the geolocation process.
Apple’s Stocks and News apps are getting redesigned.
Apple is giving its Stocks and News apps a refresh in iOS 12.
The Stocks app will now have relevant business news and sparklines showing a stock’s moves throughout the day. Clicking on a stock will open a more in-depth analysis of its performance, including after-hours pricing, which is missing from the existing version.
Apple is also adding the Stocks app to the iPad for the first time.
The News app redesign will now allow you to jump straight to your favourite news sources. On iPad, there will be a new sidebar for easier navigation.
The Voice Memos app is getting a redesign — and coming to the iPad for the first time.
Apple is adding the Voice Memos app to the iPad for the first time. The app is also getting a redesign across the board and will be easier to use on any platform, including Mac.
Voice Memos is also getting iCloud support, meaning you’ll be able to access your memos on any device.
Apple’s changing the name of iBooks to Apple Books and giving it a new look.
So long, iBooks – Apple has renamed its reading app to Apple Books.
The app is getting more than a new name, however. Apple Books has been redesigned in iOS 12 to include a new Book Store tab with top charts and curated collections.
Apple CarPlay will support third-party apps.
With iOS 12, you’ll be able to use third-party navigation apps with CarPlay, Apple’s tool for connecting an iPhone to a car’s infotainment system.
That means you’ll no longer be limited to using only Apple Maps when you connect your iPhone to your car – you’ll now have the option to use Google Maps or Waze instead.
Apple will help you combat smartphone addiction in iOS 12.
Apple unveiled new tools to help you cut back on your screen time, along with new controls for parents.
Here’s what you’ll be able to do:
- “Do not disturb” during bedtime. Enabling this feature means you won’t see your iPhone notifications until the next morning, just the time on a dark screen.
- Set an end time for “do not disturb.” You can do this by force-touching on the button in your control center.
- Screen time. This feature will provide an activity summary that details how you used your iPhone or iPad over a week.
- App limits. You’ll be able to set time limits for individual apps.
- New parental controls. Parents can get notifications about their kids’ smartphone use.
Your notifications will be grouped by app.
Apple has historically sorted notifications chronologically, but with iOS 12, they will be grouped by app.
It’s a change that users have been begging Apple to adopt for years, and it’s one area where Android has had a major leg up, making it a lot easier to deal with piles and piles of notifications.
You’ll be able to add your student ID card to your Apple Wallet to unlock dorm doors or do anything else you’d use it for.
It will work on Apple Watch too. It’s coming to only a handful of universities at first, but expect to see this in more places later.
FaceTime will support group chats with up to 32 participants.
You’ll now be able to video chat with multiple people at once on FaceTime – up to 32 participants, to be exact.
You can add participants at any point, or people can choose to join an active conversation from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, or use FaceTime Audio from the Apple Watch.
Apple is adding memoji, new animoji, and different camera effects in iOS 12.
Apple is expanding its special-effects offerings in iOS 12. The new features include:
- Memoji. These animated avatars mimic your facial expressions and head movements. Memoji are customisable to look like you – or anyone you want – much like Snap’s personalised Bitmoji characters.
- More animoji. Apple added four new animated emoji to its lineup. The new characters include a tiger, a koala, a T-rex, and a ghost.
- iMessage and FaceTime will get memoji and animoji too. You’ll be able to add new filters, animoji, and memoji to your photos and FaceTime video, as well as include stickers and text in your iMessage conversations.
With ARKit 2, you’ll be able to have shared augmented-reality experiences.
ARKit 2 is Apple’s first major update to the augmented-reality software it introduced last year.
ARKit 2 will offer improved face-tracking, more realistic rendering, support for 3D object detection, and the ability to start an AR experience based on a real-world physical object or space. It will also support shared experiences, where two or more people can play AR games together.
Apple also said it was partnering with the computer-animation studio Pixar to boost its AR initiative. Together, Apple and Pixar developed a new file format for AR called USDZ, which they say lets people share content “while retaining great 3D graphics and even animations.”
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