Apple has debuted iOS 12, bringing better performance to older devices, improved augmented reality, Memoji, FaceTime chats with an entire group, and much more to iPhones and iPads later in the year.
Presented at the 2018 WWDC conference, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced the new version, and highlighted a few features of the macOS operating system update, due in the fall.
iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11. Federighi noted that it will have the widest device support of any of Apple's previous operating system releases.
According to Apple, apps on the iPhone 6s Plus launch up to 40 percent faster, with up to 50 percent faster keyboard display, and a 70 percent faster shift to the camera.
Under load, the same iPhone is launching apps up to twice as fast. Additionally, the CPU ramp-speed is increasing across not just older devices, but also the newer ones as well.
Augmented Reality and ARKit 2
Apple has partnered with Pixar to release a new file format for augmented reality experiences. The new USDZ format is optimized for sharing, and contains all of the resources needed in one single file. Additionally, it is an open format, with Adobe bringing native USDZ support to Creative Cloud.
ARKit 2 was also announced, allowing users to launch into shared AR experiences with two users playing, plus a third observer. Other improvements include better facial recognition, more accurate surface recognition, and enhanced object measurement.
Demonstrated on stage was a Lego model and multi-player interactions with it. Apple has a demonstration set up at the expo for developers to try the multiple-user version of a simple game.
Search has been improved, with enhanced object and scene recognition. The new Photos app will predict what the user is interested in, and is "more powerful than ever" according to Federighi.
Photos now indexes over four million events by time and place, such as sporting events. Multiple terms can be entered, with suggestions for additional terms provided by the device.
The new "For You" tab contains the user's memories, plus featured photos, and effects suggestions tabs.
Sharing has been improved in "For You" with sharing suggestions. The Photos app will identify users in your photos, and recommend not just what you want to share, but also with who you send them to at full resolution.
When received, the Photos library on the other end of the transaction will recommend sharing relevant pictures back to you.
Apple has added Shortcuts to Siri. With it, any app can expose what Apple calls "quick actions" to Siri. Shortcuts like "I lost my keys" can be picked up by Siri after addition to invoke the app, and execute the relevant command.
Siri Shortcuts give the user context-sensitive suggestions, like texting meeting attendees that you'll be late, and so forth that it will learn with time and use. A new Shortcuts app will also allow users to make their own shortcuts, with an Editor that allows for drag-and-drop construction.
Apple says that there are hundreds of Shortcuts to download. The improvements in Siri and Shortcuts in particular seem derived from Apple's purchase of Workflow.
Apple News has been enhanced with enhanced discovery. The iPad version has the biggest improvement with a sidebar with the user's newsfeed.
Stocks have been improved with sparklines, that show the stock's performance throughout the day. Apple News has also been integrated with Stocks, with the top stories in Stocks being business-relate, coupled with an interactive view with after-hours pricing. The Stocks app is now also coming to the iPad.
Voice Memos has been rebuilt with a new interface and iCloud support. Plus, the app is also coming to the iPad.
Apple's iBooks has been renovated in iOS 12, with an all-new design. As seen in the beta releases in iOS 11, Apple has renamed the app to just "Books." With the revision, Apple also has a new store for book purchases coming as well.
Also with iOS 12, CarPlay supports third party navigation apps.
Apple has added a trio of features to iOS aimed to improve user's device use habits. Do Not Disturb has been amplified with a new Do Not Disturb during bedtime feature, cutting notifications way back when a user is supposed to be asleep.
A "press-into" the Do Not Disturb app has multiple options now, for granular control of the feature. Apple has also added "Instant Tuning" for notifications. On an incoming notification, users can select it and tell the iPhone how to deal with it going forward, including muting the app entirely.
Also new to Notifications are threaded, or Grouped Notifications. Tapping on the group will unfold the group, with a single swipe able to dismiss the entire stack.
"Screen Time" gives users insight for users on how they used the device. The feature also gives the user the ability to set time limits on apps, with notifications telling the user how much allowed time they have left inside the app for the day. All of the limits sync across devices with iCloud.
Parents can be sent children's reports on a main device, with the ability to set allowances by category or individual apps.
Communication and Memoji
In iOS 12, Apple has added new Tongue Detection to Animoji. A new Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex have been added to the existing feature.
Memoji, or an Animoji specific for each user, has been added with a deep set of customizations for any user. The feature taps into the TrueDepth camera system in the iPhone X to map a user's face following customization of the face in a graphical editor.
The Messages app also has new effects that can be applied, allowing application of shapes, filters, or other effects to a picture or image in response to a message.
Apple has finally introduced Group FaceTime. Up to 32 people can be included in any chat at one time.
FaceTime has been integrated into Messages, allowing for a group to be called, join in, and drop out at any time. Memojis can be added inline in a Group Facetime as well.
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