When Apple introduced iOS 12 during the WWDC 2018 keynote, they barely scratched the surface on what was changed in their latest major update. We've tracked down well over 150 features to find everything new in iOS 12 for iPhone and iPad.
The biggest feature for iOS 12 for most users will likely be the huge increase in performance on older devices. We tested this ourselves on a variety of devices, and saw a substantial increase in speed in many aspects — but not all, and not on all devices.
Other huge features include the focus on "digital health" and a new set of tools cumulatively known as Screen Time. We saw some big enhancements to some oft-overlooked stock apps such as Stocks, Weather, News, and Voice Memos. Apple also launched Measure, an ARKit app to measure objects in 3D space.
On the iPad, iOS 12 adds iPhone X-inspired gestures, grouping of notifications, support for third-party maps like Waze or Google Maps in CarPlay, new tricks for Siri with Shortcuts, Group FaceTime, and we saw ourselves in the new MeMoji.
Changes outlined in the video include:
- New app: Measure.
Built using ARKit, Measure allows users to measure the dimensions of real-world objects viewed through the iOS device's camera.
- Leveler removed from Compass app.
The function has been moved to the Measure app as one of its features, and still works the same way as previous versions.
- Redesigned Voice Memos.
Immediately shows a clear list of existing recordings when opening the app, with new recordings produced in a compact pop-up panel at the bottom of the app, complete with repositioned waveform graphic.
- New voice memos Icon.
- Voice Memos for iPad.
- Redesigned Stocks app.
Easier-to-view stocks on a new welcome screen, as well as interactive charts. One of a number of first-party iOS apps that have also been ported to macOS Mojave, using new tools still under development.
- Stocks has Apple news integration.
This allows you to see news in a panel at the bottom of the app. Expanding the news panel shows stocks in a ticker at the top of the app.
- New iPad Stocks app.
- Redesigned News app.
Three tabs at the bottom of the iPhone version including Spotlight section. Far right tab provides browsable list of followed topics and outlets.
- iBooks has been renamed Apple Books.
A continuation of Apple's phasing out of the "i" prefix for its services. Rebranding also includes a redesign, featuring a new introduction, a Reading Now screen that's like Apple Music and the App Store in being more editorialised, and new cards for individual books.
- Updated Apple Books settings preferences.
More options and a change of layout when looking at Books under the Settings app.
- Weather app air quality settings preferences.
- Weather app now tracks air quality.
Scrolling to the bottom of the day's weather shows a general "Air Quality" category ("Good" etc) for the location.
- Weather app now tracks the air quality index.
As with the general air quality feature, the "Air Quality Index" figure for the detected location is provided at the bottom of the day's weather report.
- Category placement removed
The category placement text informed users what position in a category-based chart the app resided. This is no longer included on the page.
- Numerical rating given
The previous version of the App Store showed the overall app rating by users in small numbers, alongside five stars. Now, the numerical rating is more prominent.
- Copyright info moved up
Previously all the way at the bottom of the page, the copyright details have been moved further up the listing.
- New iOS 12 wallpaper
Apple adds new wallpaper with its major iOS releases.
- Top two rows of default wallpapers have been swapped
The top row shows water and beach-themed images, while the second shows planets.
- Supports two faces for Face ID
A recurring problem with the iPhone X has been the single-user limit in Face ID, since it means people can't easily share a device, as they could with Touch ID. This problem is being fixed in iOS 12 with the ability to configure an "alternate appearance," which as its name suggests may also help people who radically change their looks.
- Enhanced battery statistics
Provides a lot more information about how the iOS device is being used, including which apps consume the most power.
- Persistent battery usage information
Provides details of power usage from the last 24 hours and the last 10 days, in theory showing longer-term usage trends.
- Automatic system software updates
In the Software Update section, a new option for "Automatic Updates" can be enabled, allowing new updates to be downloaded and installed when they arrive.
- Do Not Disturb bedtime option
The new option in the Do Not Disturb menu will restrict notifications appearing on the lock screen during a predefined sleeping period.
- Sounds and Haptics preferences moved locations
Now located alongside the Notifications, Do Not Disturb, and Screen Time sections.
- Control Center preferences moved location
Now located between General and Display & Brightness.
- New Stocks preferences
Options to update the app in the background, to use cellular data for updates, and to enable Siri & Search to access the app.
- New Voice Memos preferences
Options to permanently delete memos after a period of time, to change the audio compression quality, and to set the default recording name.
- New Measure preferences section
Enables users to set Measure's units to metric or imperial.
- iTunes U settings added
- No more System Services Location icon
- Updated Passwords and Accounts preferences
Settings allows for users to view website and password options, enable AutoFill, change how new data is fetched, and to alter individual account settings.
- Able to disable access to Wallet on Lock Screen
Prevents access to Wallet when the iPhone is locked, increasing the feature's security.
- Able to disable USB accessories on Lock Screen
Setting that can prevent anyone from accessing data over USB on the iPhone if the device is locked.
- Accessibility setting to always allow USB devices under switches
Option to allow already-connected USB devices to continue working when the iOS device is locked.
- Siri Female is default Speech voice instead of Samantha
- Siri Suggestions on Lock Screen
Option to enable or disable Siri Suggestions when the iPhone is locked.
- Emergency SOS call with side button is default, slider removed
This makes it easier to perform an SOS call.
- Maps have background app refresh toggle
Enable or disable Apple Maps from updating in the background when it's not actively being used. Could be useful when on cellular data with a limited data allowance
- Samoa and Mexico added to regulatory info
- Thicker sliders
The sliders throughout iOS 12 are slightly thicker compared to previous releases, making it easier to select and scroll.
- Grouped notifications
Playing catch-up with Android, iOS will finally "stack" notifications based on their app, topic, and/or thread. This can declutter the Notification Center while letting users manage notifications en masse. To see the contents of a stack, all that's needed is a tap.
- Instant tuning for notifications
Instead of forcing users to dive into the Settings app, Instant Tuning lets people change an app's notification options from the most recent alert. Notifications can be blocked, or simply delivered directly to the Notification Center without trying to grab your attention.
- Bedtime notifications
Silences notifications from appearing on the lock screen during a period the user sets, typically when they are sleeping.
- Deliver notifications quietly
Notifications are delivered to Notification Centre but don't appear on the lock screen.
- Updated Notification Center
- Updated Notifications preferences UI
- CarPlay supports third-party navigation apps such as Waze and Google Maps
Apple Maps isn't the only navigational service available to CarPlay users, who can now use alternative services from Google and others with their vehicle's infotainment unit.
- Improved performance with smoother animations
- "Hey Siri" works with Low Power Mode
Normally disabled under Low Power mode, it is possible to perform the "Hey Siri" wake command when the battery is low.
- Play music intent for third party music apps
While not as seamless as requests for Apple Music, it will be possible for services like Spotify and others to use Siri to play media from their apps.
- Siri Irish male accent
- Siri Irish female accent
- Siri South African male accent
- Siri South African female accent
- Ask Siri to show your passwords
Asking for the password for a specific application or service will open up the Settings application and show the relevant section containing passwords.
- Find My iPhone intents for Siri
Asking an iPhone's Siri where the user's iPad is located will try to find it, with options to make it play a sound, similar to Find My iPhone's options.
- Add Shortcuts to Siri
Similar to Amazon's Alexa routines, but arguably more powerful, the Shortcuts app will let iOS users create Siri phrases that perform multiple actions simultaneously. Saying "Hey Siri, I'm headed home" could be used to start a radio station, get directions, trigger a thermostat, and send a message to your partner.
- Siri flashlight controls
You can ask Siri to turn the flashlight on and off.
- Workflow app works with Siri Shortcuts
- Enhanced Spotlight Siri suggestions
Siri will analyse a user's usage and habits on a deeper level, and provide more appropriate results.
- Shortcuts app
Used to manage the shortcuts above.
- Answer questions about famous people
- Answer questions about food
- Answer questions about motorsports
- Can search memories in Photos
Will automatically open up the Photos app to find requested memories, such as images containing specific people.
- Favicons in Safari tabs
Favicons are effectively icons for websites, which in other browsers are shown in each tab to make identifying individual tabs easier when many tabs are open. The addition to Safari brings it in line with other browsers.
- Enhanced fingerprinting prevention against advertisers
Reduces the amount of data provided to advertisers about a device, making it harder to track individual users.
- New Animoji interface
- Animoji tongue detection
Can detect if the user is sticking their tongue out. Character reacts accordingly.
- Animoji wink detection
Can detect a user winking. Character winks at the same time with the correct eye.
- Animoji tiger character
- Animoji koala character
- Animoji T-Rex character
- Animoji ghost character
Going a step beyond the animoji in iOS 11, iOS 12's memoji are customizable faces built by choosing skin, hair, eyes, lips, accessories, and other elements. These can match your real face or be completely outlandish, and once you're done they can be used in animations, stickers, or as real-time camera effects.
- MeMoji Maker
Allows users to create their own Animoji character.
- Longer Animoji (30 secs)
Increased from 10 seconds previously.
- Messages app for the Camera
shows recently taken camera shots as well as those from image library in a dedicated page.
- Photos iMessage app
Images viewable in a dedicated iMessage app instead of taking users elsewhere
- Messages app for Camera effects
- Messages app for Animoji
- Messages app for filters
- Messages app for text effects
- Messages app for shapes
- New design for App Strip
Updated along the top of the keyboard.
- When making iMessage app full screen, app name is at the top
- Quick Messages app contact shortcuts
- New Photos Search and For You app tabs
The For You tab combines Memories and Shared Album activity, and further introduces "Featured Photos" and "Effect Suggestions" in the vein of Google Photos.
- New Photos app Album media types
- New Photos app Search
Upgraded search functions will let users find photos by event or place, and combine multiple keywords to be more precise. The app will also try to anticipate what you're searching for, proposing events, people, places, and relative dates before you've finished typing.
- New Photos app For You
- Updated import interface
Apple has made it easier to import photos and videos from pro-level cameras, particularly through native support for RAW files. These can be imported and managed on both iPhones and iPads, but only an iPad Pro can actually edit.
- Swipe left to right to go through album instead of vertically
- Screen Time
New tools let users keep an eye on how much time they've spent on apps, and optionally set limits for themselves and/or their children. The feature also supports weekly activity reports, and regularly scheduled downtimes, which can include exceptions as needed.
- Screen Time - Downtime section
Certain periods can be set to limit access to specific apps, such as work-related apps when the user typically sleeps.
- Screen Time - App Limits section
Duration limits per day can be set for specific apps. Once a limit has been reached, iOS displays a Time Limit warning, which is bypassable and not a firm block.
- Screen Time - Always Allow section
Used to whitelist apps that can be used all the time, regardless of other settings.
- Screen Time - Restrictions section
Used to limit apps and content based on appropriateness, and to protect privacy.
- Screen Time - For Kids section
Used to restrict access to specific apps completely, or set time limits, for younger users.
- New FaceTime interface
- Group FaceTime
Fixing a long-standing issue, you can now make FaceTime audio and video calls with multiple people — up to 32, in fact. To accommodate this Apple has switched to a "tile" metaphor, in which whoever's talking will see their image dominate the screen.
- Group FaceTime Messages
- Add effects, Animoji, shapes, text filters during a FaceTime call
Not to be outdone by Facebook or Snapchat, you can apply crazy visual effects in video chats. The most impressive are superimposed animoji or memoji, in case you find your regular face too boring.
- Search for Music with lyrics
When searching for songs on Apple Music, the Music app can now find songs based on entered lyrics. Typing "kiss the sky," for example, should bring up "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.
- Dark now playing widget on Lock screen
- Apple Music Featured Radio Stations
- Updated Apple Music artist pages
Artist profiles present larger artwork, as well as a "Play" button, which will run through every song in an artist's discography.
- New home settings icon in Home app instead of arrow
- New notifications section for Home app
The iOS 12 Home app includes a new section under "Add and Edit Homes" where you can configure notifications for individual accessories, organized by type. Previously people had to use 3D Touch with each separate accessory tile to find these options.
- Says "settings" instead of "details" for accessories
- HomePod personal requests preferences moved
- Remote control support
Soon you'll be able to use third-party remotes with HomeKit and the Apple TV, instead of relying on buttons, switches, or (in the case of the Apple TV) the Siri Remote. Apple hasn't said exactly how this will work, but it could open up new possibilities in smarthomes.
- Redesigned status bar
The status bar now more closely resembles the one on the iPhone X, with a conspicuous gap in the middle. It may be a strong sign that Apple expects to add an iPhone-style "notch" to future iPad models.
- Date in iPad Status Bar
Interestingly, iPad owners can not only see the time but the current date. Handy for those who regularly need to double-check.
- One finger swipe up to go to home
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen until an app zooms out, and you'll find yourself back at the home screen. Repeat this again and you'll find yourself at the home screen's first page if you were on another one.
- Control Center removed from App Switcher
Self-explanatory — no more quick access to media and settings controls by double-tapping the Home button.
- Access Control Center from top right corner
Instead, the Control Center is accessed by swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen, much like the iPhone X.
- Access App Switcher with one finger
Again replicating the iPhone X, iPad owners can simply swipe up from the bottom with a finger then left or right to switch back and forth between apps.
- Updated Screen Recording UI for iPad
- Trackpad mode using space bar
Tapping and holding on the Spacebar will turn the iOS keyboard into a virtual trackpad for more precise text and object selection. Previously, Apple limited trackpad mode to devices with 3D Touch, namely recent iPhones.
- Import and manage RAW photos on your iPhone and iPad and edit on your iPad Pro
RAW files are the preferred format of professional photographers, since they contain unprocessed data with more flexibility in editing. More direct support should reduce dependence on third-party apps.
- Swipe up to kill apps
Quick upwards swipes will kill apps, rather than needing to hold down on them.
- QR 3D Touch on Camera app
Using 3D Touch on the Camera app will bring up a new shortcut for the QR Code Camera.
- Scan documents 3D Touch on Notes apps
Using 3D Touch on Notes app brings up a shortcut to Scan Documents, which uses the device's camera.
- Faster performance
- Updated QuickType keyboard UI
- Control Center Scan QR Code shortcut
Similar functionality to 3D Touch on the Camera app, adds shortcut to open QR Code Camera mode.
- QR Code 3D Touch shortcut on camera icon in Command Center
- QR Codes now highlighted in frame
- English thesaurus
- New dictionaries
- New Spotlight Suggestions (open links)
New links appear in Spotlight Suggestions, which can open in related apps.
- Scrollable Reachability
Now allows for the contents of apps to scroll when in Reachability mode.
- Notifications in Reachability
A chevron on top of the Reachability panel takes users to their notifications
- New chevron on top of Reachability
Chevron provides access to notifications, and for altering size of app in Reachability mode.
- Extended email preview on notifications
More details provided about emails in notifications.
- Dictation works with third-party keyboards
- More Markup color options
Pop-up panel showing wide array of color options available for use in Markup.
- Change Markup drawing thickness and opacity
- Security code autofill
Instead of having to copy or memorize one-time passcodes sent via SMS, these will automatically appear as AutoFill suggestions in the keyboard. With a tap, the code can be entered into the appropriate field.
- New Strong Password' verbiage
Will warn about weak passwords and to encourage the use of stronger passwords.
- Password reuse auditing
Warns if passwords entered for an app are in use elsewhere, minimizing reuse.
- New password API
Usable by developers of third-party password apps to integrate better with iOS.
- One-Time Password Autofill
Can automatically pass one-time passwords into authentication text boxes in apps.
- AirDrop saved passwords
Transfer passwords to other devices using AirDrop.
- Podcast app custom skip settings
Used to change effects of forward and back skip function timings.
- Remote control skip support for Podcasts
- Rescan failed Face ID
A swipe upward will allow for a re-attempt.
- Screenshot prevention
Prevents attempts to take a screenshot while iPhone is waking. Screenshotting the lock screen will create usual screenshot images.
- Live Listen Control Center Hearing shortcut
- New Control Center brightness control animation
New animation showing the bar moving as you increase and decrease the brightness level.
- Screen Time widget
- Disable Apple Pay notifications per card in wallet
Stops notifications for user-specified cards from appearing.
- Student ID in wallet
- New awards tab in Activity app
Displays awards acquired by the user for their activities.
Be on the lookout for iOS 12 to launch this fall alongside tvOS 12, macOS Mojave, and watchOS 5.
Make sure to check out our other cumulative videos on everything new in macOS Mojave and in watchOS 5! And to gear up for iOS 12, Mojave and watchOS 5, find the latest deals on hardware in our Apple Price Guides, which are updated daily.