iOS 12’s best new features

Sixth public beta of iOS 12 still lacks one key feature

At this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system: iOS 12. While the final version of the new OS won’t be available until September, the Cupertino, California-based company released the sixth public beta for iOS 12 in mid-August.

You can now download the latest operating system to check out the new features ahead of its launch. Do be warned that the update is still a beta, and although it’s becoming quite polished in advance of its final release, there are still some minor bugs. We recommend backing up your data, and maybe not installing the beta on your primary device.

From app updates and new Memoji to ARKit 2.0, here are all the new features iOS 12 has to offer.

Updates:

  • Apple released iOS 12 Public Beta 6 on August 16. The update brings more performance improvements to the operating system, but group messaging in FaceTime is officially gone for the time being.
  • Apple pulled its developer beta, iOS 12 beta 7, shortly after it was released on August 13. The company did not state why the beta was pulled but some developers noticed significant issues with app load times.
  • Apple also removed Group FaceTime in the iOS beta 7.  The company did not announce a reason why the feature was removed but stated it would launch later in the fall.
  • Apple released iOS 12 Public Beta 5 on August 6. For the most part, this update brings stability and usability updates, including a major update for Siri Shortcuts that actually allows Siri to open third-party apps. An issue with Siri and Apple Pay Cash has also been addressed, so you can now use either of them to make peer-to-peer payments.

Group FaceTime

reasons to install ios 12 group facetime 2

This fall, you will not only be able to FaceTime just two or three people simultaneously, but you can video chat with up to 32 people, thanks to iOS 12. Since it’s now integrated into iMessage, you can easily set up a group FaceTime call through the iMessage group chat window. You’ll also have the option to add fun effects like stickers and Memoji while on the FaceTime call.

The feature will work on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. For Apple Watch users, you’ll be able to answer via FaceTime Audio. Apple initially released this feature in beta before pulling it and announcing it would be released later this fall.

Siri Shortcuts

With Siri Shortcuts, Siri is capable of much more via quick actions that can all be assigned through the new Shortcuts app. For example, if you use the Tile app, you can add a shortcut to Siri such as “I lost my keys.” That way, when you do lose your keys, you can let Siri know and it will automatically start ringing your Tile.

You’ll also see suggestions for apps appear on your lock screen. If you’re running late, Siri will suggest you text the meeting organizer, or remind you to call your grandmother on her birthday. Even if you’re at the movies, Siri will suggest putting your phone on Do Not Disturb.

Users will be able to use Siri Shortcuts on not only their iPhone, but also on the HomePod and Apple Watch.

One feature Apple didn’t mention at WWDC were critical alerts. You’ll be able to opt-in for notifications that are important even with Do Not Disturb turned on — this can be especially useful when a healthcare provider is trying to get in touch with you about important information.

Animoji and Memoji

The new OS also brings along more Animojis — specifically the ghost, koala, tiger, and Tyrannosaurus rex. There is also a new feature that allows you to add a tongue to any Animoji. According to Apple, Animoji can also now pick up on winking but we tried it out ourselves and found that it wasn’t successful.

But that’s not all — Apple also introduced Memoji (which might be its response to Samsung’s AR Emoji). You will now be able to create an augmented reality character that resembles you — with the option to choose from different hairstyles, eye colors, and more distinct features like freckles. And in the iOS public beta, there are even more ways to customize your Memoji

Apple has also added fun effects to the iMessage camera. Users can add things like shapes, texts, filters, and stickers to their photos that they can then send within conversations. They will even be able to insert Animojis and Memojis into photos. One additional update that wasn’t announced at WWDC is that users can now record for up to 30 seconds with their Animoji rather than the original 10 seconds.

App-level data use information

While you have been able to easily find apps that are battery hogs on iOS for years, Apple is adding a new feature that allows you to see what apps use a lot of data. First spotted in the third public beta of iOS 12, you can now see the amount of data each app uses in the Settings menu.

Redesigned Maps app

ios 12 features release date maps

Along with a host of bug fixes and minor updates, Apple threw in a huge surprise when it released the second public beta of iOS 12. The update features a new Apple-designed Maps engine that including more intricately detailed maps with greenery and other public landmarks. Right now, the feature is only active when looking at the San Francisco Bay Area on the app, but it will roll out in Northern California in the fall before making its way across the United States over the next year and a half.

Location data shared with 911 and first responders

When iOS 12 is released later this year, it will contain a new feature that will make it easier to locate iPhone users in an emergency. The feature automatically provides secure location data to first responders when you call 911.

The service combines Apple’s exciting HELO technology that estimates location based on cell towers, GPS and Wi-Fi Access Points with a technology created by RapidSOS to securely deliver the location data information to 911 in an emergency.

Improved screenshots on iPhone X

Nearly a year after Apple first introduced us to the iPhone X, the tech giant is finally fixing one of the phones most annoying problems: accidental screenshots. Over the past year, users around the world have complained about taking accidental screenshots when pulling their phones out of their pockets.

According to a number of users on Reddit however, iOS 12 solves this problem by requiring your phone be both unlocked and the display turned on before you can grab a screenshot. This minor change is sure to make plenty of iPhone owners happy.

Improved QR code reader

The QR code reader was originally introduced in iOS 11, but iOS 12 has brought improvements to the feature. Instead of pointing your camera at the code, iOS 12 will now highlight it for you to indicate that it has been detected. For easier access to the feature, you can also now add it to your Control Center. So when you want to scan a QR code, all you need to do is swipe into the Control Center and tap the tile to launch the feature.

Easy-to-use App Switcher

With iOS 12, you no longer have to long-press a card in the app switcher and then tap the minus button. Instead, all you need to do is swipe up once and then swipe up again on the app you want to specifically close out of.

iPhone X gestures on the iPad

apple ipad 9 7 inch 2018 front in hand
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

With rumors that Apple will soon remove the home button from all of its devices, iOS 12 might be further proof. If your iPad is running iOS 12, you will notice you’re using the exact same gestures you would on the iPhone X. You’re able to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring you to the home screen, and to access the Control Center all you’ll need to do is swipe down from the top-right corner.

Battery management information

Originally introduced in iOS 11.3, the battery health information feature allows you to check on how much power you’re using on specific apps. By going into Settings > Battery, you will see graphs that display your battery usage within the last 24 hours and the last two days. Underneath, you will be able to see your battery usage by each individual app and the usage time.

To check on your battery and throttling, go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. From there, you will see your maximum battery capacity in comparison to when the battery was new.

Improvements to Portrait Mode

During the keynote, Apple touched on upgrades to the Photo app but didn’t announce any new features to the camera app itself. According to its site, Portrait Mode photos have improved. The camera now generates a mask when it detects a person in order to separate the person from the scene.

In addition, you will also be able to import RAW-format photos from your computer and camera with iOS 12 onto your iPhone and iPad. Apple says users will also have the ability to edit the RAW image files on their iPad Pro.

Better password management

With iOS 12, there are a variety of new password features. For developers specifically, the new OS will be able to show passwords from third-party password manager apps in the QuickType suggestions on your device — using a new Password Manager API. Users will also be able to easily share passwords between their iOS and Mac devices if they’re nearby one another.

Apple has also increased security on creating passwords. If you’re creating a password that you’ve already used on another account, it will be flagged and remind you not to reuse a password. It will also automatically create a strong password for you and then store it in your Keychain.

Siri will be able to help you with passwords as well — but not yet. While there isn’t much information on how this feature will work, Siri will apparently be able to help you search for passwords in the future.

iOS 12 also brings autofill support for third-party password managers. Whenever a login requires two-factor authentication, the new OS will automatically fill in the six-digit codes you receive through SMS on your iPhone.

Improved Face ID

One of our favorite updated features in iOS 12 was actually completely glossed over at WWDC. Face ID is getting some major improvements in the next version of iOS.

You can now add two different Face ID profiles to unlock your phone and complete secure tasks. Hidden in the Face ID & Passcode settings, you’ll now find an option to add an alternate appearance.

It’s also easier to rescan your face in iOS 12 if Face ID did not recognize you on the first try. In iOS 12 you simply need to swipe up from the unlock screen Face ID failed on the first attempt. It’s a relatively minor enhancement, but one that makes using Face ID much more convenient.

Better performance

In particular, iOS 12 will be focused on doubling down on performance. Apple plans on delivering an operating system that’s faster and more responsive across all iOS devices. The focus has mainly been on optimizing the system when it’s under load, with load speeds up to two times faster for sheet display and app launches.

CPU performance will also be ramped up to its highest state for performance and will be ramped down just as quickly in order to preserve battery life.

One more upgrade that Apple didn’t mention at its keynote is the improved animations. When transitioning from one app to the other, the transition animations are smoother and faster than they are on iOS 11.

New AR file format

Apple wanted to make it easier to experience augmented reality with a new file format called USDZ. Developed in partnership with Pixar, USDZ is an open file format that allows developers to create and share 3D Augmented Reality assets, all through a single and compact file format.

Measure app

With the Measure app, you can easily get direct measurements of any objects around you. By tapping the object and dragging out a line, it’ll display a measurement right on your screen. You can also extend the measurements by tapping along the edges and dragging down. You’ll also have the ability to tap on an object like a photo, and have the app automatically detect the measurements, providing you with each dimension.

ARKit 2.0

Following the release of ARKit with iOS 11 last year, iOS 12 brings along a new version. ARKit 2.0 delivers improved face tracking, realistic rendering, and support for 3D object detection. There’s also support for shared experiences with multi-user augmented reality — you’ll be able to play AR games against other users in the same virtual environment.

Photos

In the Photo app, iOS 12 brings Search Suggestions, which highlights your photos based on key events or categories such as swimming and hiking. You’ll also be able to search for places by business name or a broader category such as a museum. Photos also indexes more than 4 million events by time and place, allowing you to search for specific photos based on terms like vacation and surfing. You’ll also receive suggestions on specific things to search.

The all-new “For You” tab will provide you with featured photos. Whether it’s a photo you took on the same day a few years back or effect suggestions for looping a live photo, the tab provides individual suggestions for different actions you can take with the pictures in your album.

There’s also Sharing Suggestions, which will come in handy when you see all your friends and take tons of photos together. For example, if you go out to dinner and take pictures, you’ll see suggested photos you might want to share with your friends, along with who you specifically want to share them with. Each photo is shared at full resolution in your iCloud photo library.

A variety of app updates

The News app didn’t receive a huge overhaul — those who use it on the iPad will now have a sidebar to scroll through in order to make it easier to find stories. As for the Stocks app, there’s a new sparkline that shows stock performance throughout the day. Apple News has also been integrated into the Stocks app, allowing you to see top stories right in Stocks without having to leave the app. You’ll see relevant headlines from Apple News and be able to tap on them to view the full article. Stocks will also be coming to iPad with iOS 12.

Apple has also updated the Voice Memos app with availability on the iPad. The app also has added iCloud support, allowing you to sync your recordings across all Apple devices.

Previously known as iBooks, the redesigned app also has a new name — Apple Books. New features include a “Reading Now” section that previews where you left off, allowing you to easily pick right back up again. There’s also a new “Book Store” that makes browsing for new books easier than it was before.

With CarPlay, Apple has added support for third-party navigation apps.

Do Not Disturb at bedtime

With a new Do Not Disturb feature, you’ll no longer wake up to a ton of different notifications on your lock screen. By turning this feature on, all of your notifications will be hidden until you toggle Do Not Disturb off.

For those who find themselves using Do Not Disturb often, you’ll also be able to set an end time to automatically turn the feature off whether it’s when you leave a particular location or an event ends.

Grouped notifications

Rather than seeing a long list of notifications, iOS 12 will now group them for you — not just by the app but also by topic and thread. You’ll be able to tap in and look at a particular notification and then delete an entire thread with a single swipe.

You’ll also be able to tune your notifications and decide whether you want a particular app to send you ones in the future or if you want it to bypass the lock screen. Siri will even suggest which notifications you should turn off depending on the apps you don’t use often.

Managing screen time

To allow users more insight and control over how much time they spend on a device, iOS 12 will provide users with a detailed weekly activity summary. You’ll be able to see how much time you spent on your iPhone or iPad — whether it’s within a specific app, how often you’re picking up your phone, or what apps are sending you the most notifications. You can also add it as a widget on your home screen to easily access it.

Thanks to an App Limits feature, you’ll be able to set your own limits for how much time you want to spend on a specific app. You’ll then receive notifications letting you know that time is almost up and once you’ve reached your limit.

Parents will also receive a report of their kids’ phone usage and will have the ability to give them allowances. With a Downtime feature, parents will be able to choose whether they want to limit their kid’s usage by category, individual app, or unplug altogether. There’s also an Always Allowed section that gives them the ability to still make phone calls, use educational apps, and more. Parents can also limit access to movies and websites if they’d like. All of this can be managed remotely across iPhone and iPad using the Family Sharing app.

Apple TV in the Control Center

For those who use Apple TV, you’ll now be able to add an Apple TV tile into the Control Center in iOS. That way, you’re able to easily access it by swiping up to the Control Center menu and tapping on the icon.

Updated on August 16: Added update for sixth public beta release. 

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