Apple announced iOS 12, the successor to iOS 11 and the latest version of its mobile operating system, at WWDC 2018. And while there are a few new features in iOS 12, the update focuses more on improving performance and refining existing experiences. It also introduces new apps, and makes some pretty great tweaks to some already on our iPhones.
We’ve rounded up our favorite new apps coming in iOS 12, as well as a few updates coming to existing Apple apps.
With the introduction of ARKit 2.0, Apple is adding a new tool in iOS called Measure. The app turns your iPhone into a measuring tape, delivering measurements for objects large and small. Simply point your iPhone’s camera at an object — even small photos — and it will provide you with length, width, height, and other proportions. While you may worry about the accuracy of these measurements, Apple said its state-of-the-art hardware, along with its ARKit framework, should provide extremely accurate measurements, no matter what you choose to size up.
One of the most exciting new apps on iOS 12 is called Shortcuts. Apple’s newest iOS app allows you to create customized shortcuts for a variety of third-party apps. For example, you can easily create a shortcut to order your coffee on your way to work, or turn on your favorite playlist when you hit the gym. The feature works a lot like the existing app IFTTT, but for iOS apps. In some apps, you’ll see predefined shortcuts, and in others, you will need to manually configure them directly from the Shortcuts app. You’ll also be able to have Siri trigger these shortcuts by saying a custom phrase.
Love Animoji? How about Samsung’s AR Emoji? Well, with the iOS 12 update, you can have the best of both worlds. Apple is releasing four new Animoji (a koala, dinosaur, ghost, and tiger) in iOS 12, bringing the total number of Animoji characters to 20. Your Animojis will get a little more lively as well, with the introduction of “Tongue Detection.” With Tongue Detectio,n your favorite Animojis can now wag and stick out their tongues when you stick out your tongue. Finally, Apple added an entirely new feature called Memoji, which allows you to create animations of yourself to send via Messages or FaceTime. The feature is similar to the AR Emoji feature found on the Samsung Galaxy S9, but it has many more customization features, and Apple’s face-tracking is far superior.
After years of people begging for group chat to make its way to FaceTime, it looks like Apple is finally bringing the goods. With iOS 12, Apple has added group chat to FaceTime, allowing you to add up to 32 people to your group chat. The best part? You can use Memoji in FaceTime group chats. If 32 people sounds like a lot to manage, don’t despair — iOS 12 allows you to quickly see who is speaking by enlarging their image.
If you don’t immediately see this feature in iOS 12, don’t fret: Group FaceTime will be available later this fall.
Earlier this year, Apple said it was completing a major redesign for it’s iBooks app with iOS 11.3. After first appearing unfinished on the developer beta, it mysteriously disappeared before iOS 11.3 made its way to iPhones and iPads around the world. It looks like the wait is over with iOS 12. Apple Books is the official name of Apple’s updated iBooks app in iOS 12. Books is a complete redesign that removes a lot of clutter in the original iBooks app. There’s a “Now Reading” pane, as well as an updated Book Store that offers better suggestions on books to purchase. In addition to all the new ebook features, you’ll also find a nice new tab dedicated to audiobooks.
Stocks is one of those apps that most people likely uninstall. Since its release, it has only been available on the iPhone, and it hasn’t seen much of an update for quite a while. That changes in iOS 12, as the Stocks app gets a huge makeover. You can now see how stocks perform over time, and Apple News is built in, so you can tap on individual stocks and get the latest news about the company directly within the app. Apple hasn’t forgotten about iPad users either, as the app is finally making its way to the iPad. In fact, you’ll even be able to find the app on MacOS Mojave.
Like the Stocks app, Apple’s Voice Memos app hasn’t gotten a lot of love over the past few years. It’s a simple app meant to do a single task, yet it’s extremely helpful. In addition to a modest design update, Voice Memos will now store your recordings on the iCloud server. You’ll be able to instantly access them from any linked iOS device, and you can also find them on the new Voice Memos app on MacOS later this fall, when Apple releases MacOS Mojave.
Ready to download iOS 12?
After months of waiting, iOS 12 is finally official. You can download the update beginning September 17 by going to Settings > Software Update and installing iOS 12. You’ll want to make sure your phone is currently on the latest version of iOS before you upgrade to iOS 12. If you are having trouble with the update, make sure your device supports iOS 12.
Updated September 12, 2018: Revised copy ahead of official release.