iOS 12: Five small but critical fixes you've been waiting for

iOS 12 is currently In developer beta. It'll go into public beta sometime before the end of the June and be released to everyone this fall. It's got a bunch of flashy new features, like Siri Shortcuts and Memoji, but it also has a few small but really important fixes to things that were super frustrating in previous versions.

Now, beta means beta, so everything I'm about to cover is subject to change, from the way the UI looks and works to the status of the fixes themselves. But, that also makes this the perfect time to weigh in on them.

1. Multiple Face ID attempts.

When iPhone X launched, if Face ID failed, you couldn't ask it to try again the way you could Touch ID. Instead, you had to turn off and turn back on, like some kind of monster.

Now, if you swipe down and it doesn't work, all you have to do is swipe down again and it'll try to Face ID you again.

It can still fail hard and ask for your Passcode, and after five failed attempts it'll demand it, but overall this is so much better than before.

2. Insta-killing apps.

When Apple introduced the new gesture-centric interface for iPhone X, is was super-fluid in every way. Except one. To jettison apps, you had to touch and hold and wait for the X to appear like it was 2008 all over again.

Now, just swipe and pause to multitask and then swipe app cards away to kill them, the way nature intended. And yeah, you should never force quit apps in iOS, because it wrecks things, but resource abusive apps like Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, and Pokémon Go still absolutely have it coming.

3. Touch ID password protection.

While Apple introduced iCloud Keychain year ago, the lack of any authentication check always prevented me from using it. I just never wanted to have to worry about handing my phone to a stranger in an emergency or even a friend at a conference and also handing them all my logins and credit cards.

iPhone X introduced Face ID as an authentication check, and that was great… but only for iPhone X. Now, iOS 12 adds Touch ID to the system as well, and that means iCloud Keychain is finally a first-class password manager.

If you're already using a third-party password manager, Apple's integrating those into the auto-fill system as well, so now it's win/win all around.

4. 'Hey Siri, turn on the flashlight!"

I know it sounds minor but when you're using Siri it's usually because you can't use your fingers to click and tap through the interface. And, just like fixing "Siri, take a selfie" a few years ago was great for when you wanted to instantly take that shot.

Fixing "Siri, turn on the flashlight" is even better for when it's dark, your hands are full, and you just want there to be light.

5. Do Not Disturb on Lock screen.

Yeah, Apple has a whole new and improved machine learned, Siri suggested Do Not Disturb system so it can recommend you go silent if you have a movie pass in your wallet or a lunch date on your calendar.

That's great, but it's coming out of DND that's always screwed me in the past because I'd forget to turn it off so goddamn always.

Now, though, any time you're in DND, it shows up big and bright on the Lock screen, so it's easy to remember and easy to turn off when you're done with it. So, no more missing calls or messages. Or, I guess… using DND as an excuse… crap. Thanks, Apple.

And five frustrations not yet fixed...

Equal and opposite time. As much as I love these new fixes, there are still several annoyances that remain to be fixed. Let's count them down.

  1. Dark mode. Watch has it (by default). TV got it. Mac just got it. iOS... not yet. Sure, you can 'Smart Invert' colors but it's not the same. It's not a system level API for everyone. Hopefully next year?
  2. Volume overlay. I don't mind this but I get so many complaints about it that it's worth a mention. Maybe a subtle mode that works in the status bar instead of center screen?
  3. The Home indicator. You know the one. Staring back at you on iPhone X. So bright. So always. Once you get the hint, it'd be great if you could kill it.
  4. Rotation lock — minus photos and videos. iOS knows which content can be landscape and when it should be landscape, so please just handle it.
  5. Multiple timers. Sure, you can use multiple reminders or multiple alarms as workarounds, even name them. But they don't tell you how much time is left. And if they can have multiples, why not times?
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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Explain to me why music controls are on the lock screen sometimes, and other times it does not appear. A couple examples: when I have music playing over Sonos via Spotify, the music controls on the lock screen only seem to appear when Spotify is in the front of apps. If I switch to another app, my lock screen music controls are no longer present and I have to open the phone to get Spotify to the front again. Number two: if I have my phone plugged into CarPlay, and turn off the car, unplug the phone, and put my phone in my pocket, I constantly push play on the lock screen music controls. Why can't this hide when I disconnect from CarPlay? Maybe someone here can tell me I am just doing something wrong.
  • The music controls should always appear on the lock screen when music is playing through an app, be it Spotify or anything else, so that sounds like a bug which hopefully will be fixed in iOS 12. Not sure about the second one, I think the phone assumes you might want to carry on where you left off, but there might be a setting hidden somewhere
  • The first two seemed like they were caused by a rushed iPhone X implementation, one of the reasons I wanted to skip the iPhone X and get the next phone after. I'm really happy for number 5, one of the reasons I shied away from using DND was because it seemed like an easy thing to forget to turn off, I was only using the DND-when-driving since that turned itself off. Now I think I'll use it more often, like at night time for example.
  • I really wished that DND-when-driving had a different icon to the regular DND. I also wish that I could set DND-when-driving to use a specific bluetooth receiver to activate. Auto doesn't work because my commute is normally train/tube. I always forget Manually when I'm in the car. But I do always connect to a third party bluetooth when I'm in the car.
  • The bugfix I really, really, want is on iPad when they introduced the key flicks on the keyboard but forgot to tell the spellcheck team.
    So if you type f9o (accidentally pulling “o” down to get “9”) instead of foo, it does NOT autocorrect it, because it thinks anything with a number in it must be deliberate. It fixes transposed and adjacent letters but deliberately does not change accidental key flicks. Aargh.
  • I think that is the default in most spell checkers. Check Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc. Most of them seem to default to not auto-correcting words with numbers in them. Because that would mean they'd have to build in a massive amount of exceptions like "82nd," "4chan," "1-800-Flowers," etc. It's just easier to not correct those and let the typist deal with it, since they are not as common as words that don't include numbers. As far as the key flicks are concerned, that seems to only be the case (from what you wrote), when the accident is a numeral, which means it really has nothing to do with accidental key flicks, but the result of that key flick. If the key flick resulted in an accented character, and not a number, what would it do? :-P
  • Flashlight is a word that's not used here. We the word torch. I wonder if the word torch works instead.
  • It does not.
  • It does work if Siri is English (UK).
  • Being able to edit "Significant Locations" iOS insists that in the mornings and evenings I used to visit a local cafe. It now suggests I visit a bank. It took me 6 months to work out what these locations have in common. Both are in the "circle of confidence" of the local tube station I use for my commute. Along with 6/12 other businesses. Why can't I choose which of these (i.e. the tube) is the one I'm interested in.
  • These are good fixes. Multiple timers isn't a problem if you've got several Apple devices in your home! The number 1 thing I'm most excited about is interactive animations. iOS 11 already has a few like the home screen. You can finally swipe to the next row of apps before waiting for all the apps on the first page to fly in! FINALLY! Now if only we could do something about the phone scrolling horizontally when I'm trying to scroll vertically.
  • Quote: "Multiple timers isn't a problem if you've got several Apple devices in your home!" One can only throw away so much money before it becomes unreasonable. Plus, I find no value in Apple devices outside of iPhone. I do have an iMac, but it's really not used any differently than a Chromebook. The App Ecosystem is so devoid of choices, that I bought a new powerful Windows PC to use for everything else earlier this year. Not even sure why I still have it. I usually throw tech I'm "over" in the garbage (so bad at recycling :-P ).
  • Which app ecosystem? The Mac has an abundance of fantastic apps, there's no way I could use a Chromebook because I depend on so many apps that aren't available for that platform, plus I use some great Mac-only apps too