Apple has announced iOS 12, which will come to iPhones and iPads later in the year.
The next major update to the iPhone and iPad's mobile operating system was rumoured to be all about improvements to quality and performance, though we suspected Apple would have a few surprises in store.
We couldn't imagine the company using its annual developers conference, where it unveils the latest updates to its software, to talk only about how it smoothed out bugs and glitches in iOS.
We stayed positive, and sure enough, Apple wowed us.
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What are the new iOS 12 features?
First of all, Apple said iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11. The company said it is "doubling down on performance" with this update, too. For instance, the software was optimised with Apple's chip team, and as a result, apps should launch up to 40 per cent faster. It even put the software through stress tests. Apple said it's focusing on improving performance on older devices, as well.
As part of that, everything that supports iOS 11 will support iOS 12.
USDZ file format
Apple worked with Pixar to make a new file format for AR called USDZ. It works in multiple apps, and several companies will support it, including Adobe and Autodesk. Native USDZ support coming to Adobe Creative Cloud, too, so there will be new apps for Creative Cloud and a new iOS app that lets you take images and text and put it in AR, Apple explained.
Apple announced a new AR measurement tool called Measure. It can measure and detect real-world objects. There are two tabs in the app - measure and level - and the app has a camera view, which lets you tap, drag a line, and measure.
Apple is improving ARKit with face tracking, realistic rendering, 3D object detection, persistent experiences, and shared experiences, the latter of which will let you have single AR experience used on multiple iPhones. Martin Sanders, director of innovation for Lego, came onstage to show a Lego kit that he and others could manipulate together with an AR app. More experiences will arrive later this year.
Apple explained that the Photos app is gaining a new "For You" tab, similar to Apple Music. It has an "On this day" section featuring existing memories, looping Live Photos, Portrait photos, and more. The For You tab will also suggest editing tools to try. Apple also updated the Photos app so you can do multiple search terms and get suggestions for multiple search terms. It can index by time, place, categories.
Apple, of course, also talked about SiriKit. Going forward, Apple said, "any app can expose quick actions to Siri." So, apps will be able to have an "Add to Siri" button with your own search phrase. With this new functionality, you can say, "Siri I lost my keys," which could then launch Tile. In a demo with the Kayak app, Apple showed there's an "Add to Siri." You tap it, record a custom phrase, and then you can say it to Siri.
This entire effort also includes a new Shortcuts app so that Siri can handle routines for the first time. So, on your way home from work, you'll be able to automatically send a message to your partner.
Apple News is getting a new "Browse" tab, as well as a new sidebar on the iPad. Apple News is now built into Stocks, too.
The Stocks app has been rebuilt - with Apple News tucked inside. So, now you can see how the latest news while checking out your investments portfolio. Stocks is even coming to iPad, Apple said.
Voice Memos completely rebuilt, and it's coming to the iPad and Mac. iCloud support will also be available so you can sync recordings, Apple added.
This app got a new name and a new design. For instance, a new "Reading now" section will show you where you were left off.
There's also a new store.
CarPlay third-party integrations
CarPlay is getting third-party navigation support, meaning Google Maps and Waze will soon be accessible from CarPlay.
Apple said it wants to "give you more control" over notifications. Starting with Do Not Disturb, a new "Do not disturb during bedtime" will hide notifications on a device's lock screen at night. You can also hard press this function so you can easily set a time limit for it. There will also be instant adjustments. You "press in" to a notification and see a few options, like "Send to notification center."
But, more importantly, grouped notifications are happening. You will be able to group notifications from same app into one notification and customise notifications from the lock screen.
This new iOS feature shows you how much you use your phone. You can get a weekly activity summary with a graph that shows how much time you're spending on your phone. It reminds us of the dashboard in Android P. You can also set time limits for each app. When time is up, the app will show "Time's up" notification, and then you can tap a link to ask for more time.
You'll be able to see how long you are using each app for, when you're using each app, how often you unlock your phone, and which app serves up the most notifications. It will be possible to limit how much you use an app each day. If you have children, you can set app app "allowances".
Animoji and Memoji
First of all, Animoji are getting an update to support "Tongue Detection." Seriously.
But the most interesting new thing is something called Memoji, which is what happens when you make an Animoji of yourself. It's different from Bitmoji and Samsung's AR emoji - but also similar. With the new Memoji builder, you can select your skin colour, hair, etc. You then pull up the camera in iMessage, and there's a star button you can tap to access effects. You can even do a live recording of the Animoji.
Grouped FaceTime calls
Just like how grouped notifications have finally arrived, you can now do group FaceTime calls with up to 32 people.
When will iOS 12 be available?
There will likely be three iOS 12 release dates: one for developers, one for public beta testers, and one final version for general iOS users. The first developer beta is available right now to developers who have a paid membership with Apple. The iOS 12 public beta typically launches late June. This beta is free to download and use. And the final version, which is also free, should be out in September alongside the new iPhones.
Which devices can run iOS 12?
iOS 12 will run on an extensive list of iPhones and iPads. But, essentially, it will support any iOS device released since 2013. Check out: Can I get iOS 12 on my iPhone or iPad?