iOS 12 is rolling out to compatible iPhones and iPads from today, 17 September 2018.

This next major update to the iPhone and iPad mobile operating system was initially rumoured to be all about improvements to quality and performance, but Apple had a few surprises in store, too.

There are plenty of new features, some of them device specific to phones with built in Face ID hardware, like the new iPhone XS and last year's iPhone X. 

When is the iOS 12 release date

The iOS 12 release date today, 17 September. It usually appears around 6pm BST or 10am PST. So check your software updates later today in Settings > General and you should see an update waiting for you. As always, the servers are very busy on the first day so expect the update to take a while to download. 

Which devices can run iOS 12?

iOS 12 runs on an extensive list of iPhones and iPads. But, essentially, it will support any iOS device released since 2013, including the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and XR (it will be preinstalled on those new devices).

Apart from the new devices, which will launch with the software out-of-box, the following tablets and phones will be included in the rollout:

iPhone

  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS 
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s

iPad

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (second-gen)
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (first-gen)
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (fifth-gen)
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3

Check out: Apple iPhone XS vs iPhone X: What's the difference?

What are the new iOS 12 features?

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Performance updates

iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11. Apple says it is "doubling down on performance" with this update, too. The software has been optimised alongside Apple's chip team, and as a result, apps launch up to 40 per cent faster. Apple says it's focusing on improving performance on older devices, as well.

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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 is coming to Adobe Creative Cloud, too, so there are new apps for Creative Cloud as well as an iOS app that lets you take images and text and put it in AR.

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Measure app

Apple's new AR measurement tool called Measure. It can measure and detect real-world objects. There are two tabs in the app - measure and level (yes, the level function has moved from the Compass app) - and there's also a camera view, which lets you tap, drag a line, and measure.

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ARKit 2

Apple has improved 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. 

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Apple Photos

Apple explained that the Photos app is gaining a new For You tab, similar to Apple Music.  The For You tab will also suggest editing tools to try as well as sharing suggestions, perhaps a bunch of photos of a recent wedding that you might want to share. You can now search with multiple search terms and get suggestions.

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Siri Shortcuts

Any app can now use quick actions within Siri. Apps will be able to have an "Add to Siri" button that works with your own search phrase. With this functionality, you can say, "Siri I lost my keys," which could then launch Tile. In a demo with the Kayak app, Apple showed how "Add to Siri" works. You tap it, record a custom phrase, and then you can say it to Siri.

There's also 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, for instance.

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Apple News

Apple News is getting a new "Browse" tab, as well as a new sidebar on the iPad. Coincidentally, there's also now a News app on MacOS Mojave. too. 

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Apple Stocks

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.

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Voice Memos

Voice Memos is completely rebuilt, and coming to the iPad and Mac. iCloud support will also be available so you can sync recordings, Apple added.

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Apple Books

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.

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CarPlay third-party integrations

CarPlay is getting third-party navigation support, meaning Google Maps and Waze will soon be accessible from CarPlay.

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Notifications

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 be instant adjustments, too. 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.

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ScreenTime

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 Pie. 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 "allowances".

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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.

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Grouped FaceTime calls

Just like how grouped notifications have finally arrived, you can now do group FaceTime calls with up to 32 people. However, Apple said Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial iOS 12 release and will now "ship in a future software update" later this autumn.