iOS 12: Everything you need to know!

iPhone Home screen
iPhone Home screen (Image credit: iMore)

Apple has officially unveiled iOS 12, the latest version of its operating system for iPhone and iPad. It comes with changes to the iOS experience both major and minor, and I'm going to run through them with you now.

Here's everything you need to know about iOS 12.

What's new with iOS 12?

Apple has announced that iOS 12 will be available for compatible devices on Monday, September 17.

June 4, 2018: Apple announces iOS 12

Apple has officially announced iOS 12, bringing with it improvements for ARKit, device use management features, and more.

Jump to the new features in iOS 12

What is iOS 12?

iOS 12 is the latest major version of Apple's mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. Each year, Apple uses these versions to bring important updates to their mobile devices, and this year follows that pattern.

When will iOS 12 be available?

iOS 12 has been available in beta form for developers since right after Apple's WWDC keynote, and the company launched a public beta later in June. Keep in mind that when Apple says 'beta,' they generally mean it: pre-release software, especially in the first few iterations, could play havoc with your device, so install at your own risk. It's best if you have a secondary device to use for the beta if you want to test it out.

The official release of iOS 12 will come on Monday, September 17 as a free update.

How do I upgrade to iOS 12?

Updating your iOS devices to a new version is easy. But if you're unsure of how to get started, we've got a guide for you.

How to upgrade your iPhone and iPad

What devices can run iOS 12?

iOS 12 will run on an extensive list of iPhones and iPads. Here are the devices that Apple's new operating system will run on:

iPhone:

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

iPad:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1st generation
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad 6th generation
  • iPad 5th generation
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2

iPod touch:

  • iPod touch 6th generation

What's new in iOS 12?

iOS 12 is full of changes, from new controls for managing our time on our devices to updates for ARKit that will allow for more immersive augmented reality experiences. Siri Shortcuts offers a more personalized experience for Siri, and Notifications can now be grouped by both app and type.

Here's what you can expect when you update to iOS 12 later this year.

Performance

Apple is putting a lot of emphasis on performance in iOS 12, particularly on older devices, increasing performance on those iPhones and iPads by as much as 40%. You can also expect faster app launches as well as a faster keyboard and more on devices going all the way back to the iPhone 5s.

Performance in iOS 12: Everything you need to know!

Augmented Reality and ARKit 2.0

Apple is introducing a new file format for sharing augmented reality objects, USDZ. The company is working with several companies to make USDZ the standard format for AR object sharing, including Adobe. USDZ can be embedded in stories in News, and you can even find it on the web, viewing objects from the web in AR on your iPhone or iPad.

Apple has also introduced the Measure app, which can us ARKit to measure objects in the real world.

ARKit 2.0 brings support for multiplayer experiences, allowing users to share the same augmented reality playspace with one another. Lego will be bringing out an ARKit 2.0-powered game that lets players build virtual Lego sets, interact with select real sets and have fun adventures together.

AR and ARKit 2: Everything you need to know

Messages

Apple is bringing Message effects to the camera inside the Messages app. Add filters, stickers, and even your Animoji other items to the photos and videos you send via the Messages app.

Apple Books

Along with a new name, Apple Books has gotten a complete redesign, looking a lot like iOS 11's redesign of the App Store.

Apple Books: What's new in iOS 12

Notifications

Apple is adding support for grouped notifications, which will bring notifications together by app and topic. You can swipe multiple notifications away at once. iOS will also stop showing notifications from apps that you don't use.

How Notifications will change in iOS 12

Do Not Disturb

Apple is fine-tuning the Do Not Disturb experience, adding Do Not Disturb at Bedtime, which offers a minimal notifications experience that won't disturb you at night, and will only gently nudge you in the morning. You can also now automate Do Not Disturb based on events or locations.

How Do Not Disturb will change in iOS 12

Animoji and Memoji

iPhone X owners will also get an expanded set of Animoji characters to play around with, including Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex. Animoji are also getting tongue detection, meaning that when you stick out your tongue, your Animoji will, too.

Apple is also introducing Memoji, letting you build your own, personalized Animoji. You can customize head shape, skin color, hair, accessories, and more.

Animoji and Memoji: Everything you need to know

FaceTime

Apple is introducing Group FaceTime calls, letting you participate with up to, yes, 32 different participants. FaceTime is also now integrated into Messages, letting you go from a group chat to a group FaceTime call. Just as you can with the camera in the Messages app, everyone can add fun effects to their FaceTime calls.

What's new in FaceTime in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

Siri

iOS 12 introduces Siri Shortcuts, which lets all types of apps add shortcuts to Siri, letting you add custom phrases that correspond with a specific app to perform tasks, like adding a phrase with the Tile app for finding your keys.

There will also be a Shortcuts app that lets you create your own custom, multi-step Siri actions. The app seems to be based on Workflow and includes support for HomeKit.

Siri Shortcuts: Everything you need to know!

Siri suggestions will now be more robust, learning your app usage habits in order to be more helpful, offering suggestions on your lock screen and search screen.

Siri Suggestions: What's new in iOS 12

Camera

There are some filter, animoji, and Memoji intergrations coming to the Camera app in iOS 12.

The Camera app in iOS 12: Everything you need to know

Photos

Apple is adding search suggestions to Photos, which will offer, people, places, and activities when you go to search for photos. Search based on business names, events, and even use multiple search terms.

The new For You tab will contain your Memories, as well as featured photos that you've taken. You'll also see activity for shared albums and get sharing suggestions, which suggests photos to share and people with whom you can share them. People who receive shared suggested photos will be given suggestions for similar photos to share with you from their own albums.

Photos in iOS 12: Everything you need to know!

News

Apple News is getting a sidebar on iPad, making sections easier to access. The Stocks app is also getting Apple News integration, which offers relevant stories inside the Stocks app.

What's new in the News app for iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

Stocks

In addition to the aforementioned News integration with curated business stories, the app has been completely rebuilt, adding stock price lines in the list view, and finally coming to iPad.

Stocks in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave: Everything you need to know!

Home

Though the real change with the Home app is that it is coming to macOS Mojave, there are some very subtle differences in the Home app for iOS 12, in that you'll be able to better integrate with Siri and get suggestions for when to turn on the lights, lock the doors, and more.

Home app: What's changed in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

Screen Time

Screen Time offers detailed breakdowns of how you spend your time on your devices. See how long you spend in apps, how often you pick up your phone, and how much time you spend responding to notifications. You can also set App Limits, which you can set to limit your use of specific apps. Your limits are synced across devices, and parents can see the device activity of their kids, and they can create allowances, including setting when you want your kids to put down their iPhones or iPads or allowing access to certain content at certain times.

Screentime for iPhone and iPad in iOS 12: Everything you need to know!

CarPlay

CarPlay is gaining support for third-party navigation apps.

CarPlay: Everyting you need to know

The bottom line

From multiplayer AR games and apps to custom Siri shortcuts, there's a lot to look forward to when iOS 12 launches later this year. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as we get closer to the public launch.

If you've got any other questions about iOS 12, be sure to leave them in the comments, and we'll answer them as best we can as we learn more about iOS 12.

Joseph Keller

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.

37 Comments
  • No Mention of RCS support yet. Hopefully it is being added but they are trying to downplay it which would be understandable.
  • RCS would instantly obsolete iMessage and FaceTime if they implemented it. All they would have as a selling point would be security FUD. They likely aren’t planning that at this time. It would kill one of the biggest selling points of an iDevice. For example you can develop RCS clients for PC and other tablets without the Apple hardware tax. The RCS from Verizon and other carriers have already displayed that fact. This would really drive down the urge to get a Mac if you have an iPhone, and Apple depends on that to keep driving their PC sales.
  • Liking the grouped notifications option. Now if they would add a true dark mode, MacOS gets it, why not IOS?
  • Hopefully soon. At least for the iPhone X anyway, since that has an OLED display
  • No mention of horizontal Face ID? Seems like a no brainer to me. Since I use my iPhone X as a GPS it makes sense to have a selectable horizontal version.
  • As far as I'm aware Face ID will work at any angle. Not tested it though
  • Nice, better notifications and waze for carplay support. Very happy with that.
  • Waze for CarPlay will be great, sadly it's not in the beta
  • 3rd party navigation apps on CarPlay is the biggest thing I am looking forward to. Finally can use HERE Maps in my car. The biggest thing iOS is still missing is the ability to set default apps. I want to be able to set default navigation, e-mail, browser, etc.
  • Siri? they still doing that? why? finally apple learned that maps S@#$% and i can use google maps on my ford. so i guess just a performance update
  • Apple Maps works pretty well for me at least in the UK. And of course they're still doing Siri, I use it all the time
  • Every update is a performance update. The heightened mentioning of it this cycle is due to how bad iOS 11 was, and the fact that they don’t really have much else to offer. So saying “we focused on performance” is a nice cop out. Why it takes an entire release to focus on something so fundamental is a much better question. These phones aren’t really innovative, and this software cycle is super stale. I have never been so underwhelmed. I totally forgot about the launch event, when usually I wait on them in anticipation. The whole industry has slowed down, but it’s more pronounced with Apple since they really aren’t innovation leaders, anyways, just tech polishers.
  • But they did focus on performance, to please their customers. But as the saying goes, you can't please everyone, and in this case you haven't been pleased. I've no problem with Apple being a "tech polisher", because it's more important to me to have a device that works, than to have one which has the latest and greatest features at the cost of stability/speed
  • Instead of or in addition to “Do Not Disturb Bedtime”, please give us the option of scheduled airplane mode!! How hard would this be? That way we’re not “radiating” our brains all night long if we have our phones near our beds!
  • I like that idea... it should be implemented. I don't care about things downloading, etc while plugged in at night. That can take place when I'm at work.
  • Doesn't really make any difference from DND as far as I can see, DND might use your battery a little more, but the iPhone barely uses any power when the screen is off, and in DND your phone won't be checking for push notifications so that's even more battery saved
  • Airplane mode is for airplanes, why does DND not cover your needs?
  • Based on "suggests photos to share and people with whom you can share" it looks like Photos app will gain even more (in my opinion it was already too much before this) knowledge about taken photos.
    Will users be able to switch this off (or be able to delete the Photos app)?
    The Photos app already is a nightmare that keeps scanning my personal photos (which contain loads of sensitive data) without my explicit permission each time and I don't have any control over this process. As a user I should have full control over my personal and sensitive data (in this case I don't want my biometric data to be processed without my explicit consent each and every time).
    It would be great if someone (preferably from Apple) could explain, how is it legal?
  • Facebook did it with no legal repercussions. Basically unless you have a signed document saying you don’t want that to happen, it’ll be legal. Unfortunately there is no implicit right for privacy, except under covered situations of public disclosure.
  • The Photos app has been one of the biggest disappointments for me in recent years. I’m planning to move to Android just so I can plug my phone into my PC and Sync with a better desktop DAM, and not have to deal with this mediocrity. Also, the QuickTime H.264s that are randomly incompatible with software without that terrible QuickTime runtime (kills performance for anything that uses it). I barely use my iPhone camera anymore, because I just can’t be bothered dealing with Photos and Apples Photo Library method. I really hate it that they continue to use proprietary flavors of industry standard media formats, as well. With the Note 9 being the cheap option, this year, the choice is as easy as ever. Migrate and check back in two or three years; though I likely won’t have a Mac by then; making any iOS device a very, very tough sale to me in that situation. Maybe by then, the software will better accommodate the people they seem to be trying to target in their advertising.
  • Google Maps finally!!!!
  • I was really hoping for non-intrusive calling notifications. I don’t care for the current full screen incoming notification. Definitely a step in the right direction with grouped notifications.
  • A phone call must be actioned as it times out after a number of rings, so that's why it takes up the full amount of the screen, it's designed that way on purpose. If you're getting too many spam calls, you need to take that up with your carrier or the relevant people. In the UK, we have the TPS service which helps stop spam calls
  • "...Screen Time offers detailed breakdowns of how you spend your time on your devices. See how long you spend in apps, how often you pick up your phone, and how much time you spend responding to notifications. You can also set App Limits, which you can set to limit your use of specific apps. Your limits are synced across devices, and parents can see the device activity of their kids, and they can create allowances, including setting when you want your kids to put down their iPhones or iPads or allowing access to certain content at certain times..." Does no one else see the sinister side of this? "Well, you can use it for this and that and to keep kids off, blah, blah..." Yeah, and if the PHONE knows what you're doing, Apple knows what you're doing and when. Do you think Apple hasn't figured a way to LEVERAGE that information? Will they allow you to "opt out" or turn the feature off? Or will it be one of things that are buried on the EULA next to the Zombie clause and you either send that info or the phone won't work....
    To say I'm a little skeeved at that possibility is putting it mildly.
  • You realize Apple does all that type of stuff locally on the phone right? You're not sending them anything.
  • Not all of it, Welcome to Web 2.0. You think they manually improved Apple maps by driving around themselves? No. They did it the same way Google and HERE do it. This is how things work. These are web services. Our device isn’t the end all be all. The idea that it is is just people buying into propaganda marketing. They tell you 3/4th truths and people believe it’s the full truth. It doesn’t matter. There are no alternatives that don’t do the same, so at this point we’re just looking for the best of the bad. Go where your conscience takes you. 1st party services tied to operating platforms is where most people are gotten. Not that Apples are that good, but many of their users seem to believe they are an Angel among demons. Okay...
  • "we’re just looking for the best of the bad" That's pretty much it. Apple are nowhere near as bad with collecting people's information as other companies, but yes they still do it, they just do it much better than the rest
  • Is there an easier way to take screen shots? As soon as I hit the button on the right side of my iPhone 10 it turns off, or starts Siri and if it hit it precisely with the volume up button takes a screenshot. But give me a break ffs it shouldn’t be that hard
  • off topic any new features for airpods control with tapping in ios 12? anyone can confirm the changes?
  • I can confirm that, as of dev beta 1, there is no difference for double-tap to control AirPod. Same as iOS 11.
  • When I select All Photos in Photos I’d like to actually see all the photos.
    Contacts needs to have sliders so telephone numbers, addresses, et cetera can be reorganized.
    Notes needs an outliner and sub-folders.
  • I think Apple’s stock apps are intentionally kept oversimplified. This is good for the App Store to have developers fighting over being the best “stock app” alternative. I notice Android users tend to use less alternatives for these basic things than iOS users: Photos, PIM apps, etc. But really, OneNote or Notability isn’t bad. Ditch the apps that are too simple. 3rd parties seem to develop better solutions than Apple does; but like I said, they do this purposely.
  • It would seem that way, I think a big selling point of the iPhone is that out of the box it's a really simple device to use. But yes, if you want to enhance your experience with the iPhone, looking for alternative apps is the way to go, and some of the paid alternatives are definitely worth paying for
  • Wi-Fi network selection from the Control Panel. It’s ridiculous to do it through Settings.
  • Plus the ability to actually turn Wi-Fi/Bluetooth off, rather than just disabling it temporarily
  • Does Car Play support Google Maps, or just Apple Maps?
  • I think this is done because Continuity depends on both of these protocols. If you turned BT Off, then your iNac and MacBook don’t work as well with your iPhone. Apple Watch without cellular would probably suffer as well. Only relevant for people who use iPhone as their only Apple device. I do think the battery use of these is pretty negligible. 5 years ago I probably would have agreed with you, though.