I don't know about you, but I was pretty excited about the reveal of iOS 12. While it may not be a transformational experience for iPhones and iPads, the work Apple is doing on performance is encouraging, and a lot of the changes in this year's release, including those performance improvements, Siri Shortcuts, and ARKit updates, seem foundational, setting things up for bigger changes coming down the line that need these pieces in place now.
These are 10 of the things that I'm excited about and interested in for iOS 12.
Siri and the Shortcuts app
Hands down, the thing I'm most excited about coming out of WWDC, let alone iOS 12. Siri is probably the aspect of Apple's ecosystem that most excites me, while also frustrating me due to what can seem at times like a lack of progress. iOS 12 seems to be changing all of that. Apple has been trying to get Siri to become more predictive and proactive since iOS 9, and the preview indicates that it might have finally made some improvements in that area.
But the truly standout portion of the keynote, for me, was Shortcuts. I've been wondering since Apple purchased the app what would become of Workflow, a formerly third-party app that lets you create automated workflows that link apps together in order to more efficiently complete tasks. Now, not only will Shortcuts allow you to create custom actions, but you can create custom Siri commands for those actions and Siri will proactively suggestion Shortcuts as it analyzes your behavior. While Shortcuts may seem small right now, I've been waiting for almost this exact thing for Siri for a while now, so yeah, I'm pumped.
While there are sure to be some bugs, that this is the direction Apple is taking Workflow and Siri is certainly encouraging for someone like me.
Another big one: notifications. In iOS 12, the system will not only group together notifications by app, but also by type. Have a lot of messages from several different apps? They'll all be under the same banner.
And just to jump back on the Siri train for a second, Siri will now help you reduce notification clutter. Siri will study how you interact with notifications for apps, and make suggestions about how to manage them. You can always turn off notifications for a particular app, but now you're also given the option to have them delivered "quietly," which will see your notifications from a particular app delivered to the notification center, and have the app icon badged, but they won't appear on your lock screen, present banners while you use your device, or play sounds.
Do Not Disturb
With iOS 12, Do Not Disturb will gain more granular controls. While I already use Do Not Disturb to keep my iOS devices quite at night, you now have more controls over how Do Not Disturb works. You'll be able to use new quick settings to turn it on for say, just an hour or until later in that day, you'll also be able to set Do Not Disturb on and off based on other factors.
If, for example, you have a meeting on your calendar, you can set DnD to remain on until the end of that meeting. You can also set Do Not Disturb to remain on until you leave a particular location. If you just need to set a certain time, a new Schedule button will be available in the Control Center widget (long press or 3D Touch the Control Center Do Not Disturb button) that will take you to Do Not Disturb in Settings so you can set it as you normally would.
In addition, iOS 12 can hide your notifications from you when in Do Not Disturb thanks to the new Bedtime mode feature, which keeps you from getting distracted by notifications when you should be trying to fall asleep.
iOS 12 focuses a lot on performance, and if the actual gains are close to what Apple is claiming, people using older devices should be happy. This point gets high marks for hopefully reducing the headaches that come along with any software update, and hopefully making people feel as though they have, if not a brand new device, then still one that works well for them.
Messages and FaceTime
Messages and FaceTime get a combined section because a number of their enhancements are shared between both apps, such as camera effects. You can now use camera effects when taking a picture or video from Messages, and you can place camera effects on yourself when making a FaceTime call. Additionally, you can now start a FaceTime call directly from a Messages thread, including a group messages thread.
If you were to do that, you'd be able to experience FaceTime's biggest new feature, which is something I know a lot of us have wanted for a while: group FaceTime calls. Is 32 people a bit overkill? Maybe, maybe not. If you use FaceTime in a professional setting, maybe that's on the borderline of enough. But it's the biggest advancement for FaceTime in years, and I'm really pumped to try it out this fall.
The new tiger, ghost, koala, and T-Rex Animoji are great, but obviously, the thing that really takes the cake here is Memoji. I'll be honest, this isn't something that was even on my radar, but it's one of those things that you see and say to yourself, "Of course. Of course, custom Animoji is the place to go." The fact that you can bring these Memoji with you into photos and videos in Messages, or even on a live FaceTime call, just injects a sense of fun into iOS 12, something important that I think a lot of people disregard to focus on more "serious" topics.
This is another fun one. ARKit 2 comes with a lot of enhancements over ARKit 1 and 1.5, but perhaps the single most important for everyday people is shared experiences. While experiences can only be shared between two active participants and a third observer, that's sure to be only the start of shared augmented reality experiences.
As an aside, imagine watching a live, two-player augmented reality game on Twitch. Both players share the experience, then viewers watch from the perspective of the third observer, maybe someone sharing their "gameplay."
In its presentation for macOS Mojave, Apple talked a lot about privacy, particularly when it comes to web browsing. Safari on Mojave will prevent sharing buttons for social networks and comment widgets from tracking you around the web, and the great news is that these features are coming to iOS 12 as well. Both systems will also work to prevent fingerprinting (a process by which advertisers and data collection companies gather data about unique identifying features for your device) by sending only general information back.
It's all part of a privacy philosophy that Apple has espoused for a while now: privacy needs to be a choice. I need to be able to decide what information I'm giving up and when I do that.
It's weird to think that I'm excited about one tab in one app, but that's where I am with the For You tab in Photos. Admittedly, it's not a bouncing-off-the-walls sort of excitement, but it's still an interesting addition to the Photos experience. The new home for your Memories movies will also serve up featured photos that you've taken. It will also make suggestions for effects to add to your photos, such as a loop for a live photo, or adding a filter or other effect to your photos. That's pretty cool.
But the social aspects of For You are also intriguing. For You makes it easier to share photos by suggesting people that it would be great to share them with. Photos will even automatically make picks suggesting which images to send to which people. And the fact that this sharing all takes place privately over iMessage is just another point in its column.
This is going to be useful for a lot for people, and not just those looking to reduce the amount of time they spend looking at screens (I often spend my day writing on an iPad, so I think my usage is going to be a little above average). But take Twitter, for example. I, like many others, use it as a news feed. And the news the comes through Twitter is often scary, depressing, or just plain nerve-wracking. Looking at that stuff constantly isn't healthy, and having a graph, generated by a system that is watching how you use your device, with hard numbers, might be the push you need to spend less time stressing yourself out like that.
Digital wellbeing is a new area of focus for Apple and other companies, and these are early days. I'm interested to see how these tools evolve over the next several years to help us lead healthier digital lives.
Bonus: Battery graph
So this is a little thing, but there is now a battery graph in under Settings > Battery. It offers detailed breakdowns of your battery use over time for both Screen On usage and Screen Off usage. It also shows you how much of your battery's charge level dropped as you used it. It's a great visual representation of how you use your device that pairs nicely with Screen Time.
So these are the things that I'm most looking forward to in iOS 12. But what about you? Let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments below.
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Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.
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