iOS 12 rumor roundup: Release date, new features, and more

The next new operating system for iPhone and iPad will be iOS 12. That means, right after iOS 11 was released, Apple's product marketing and software engineering teams began working to figure out what iOS 12 needed to be. Since Apple doesn't pre-announced new features before they go into beta, all we have to look forward to between now and WWDC 2018 in June are rumors and speculation.

Here they are.

June 1, 2018: ARKit 2.0 will reportedly allow two iPhones to see the same virtual object

In a new report, Reuters claims that ARKit 2.0, which will supposedly be unveiled next week with iOS 12, will allow two iOS devices to share the same augmented reality space, letting users see the same objects at the correct relative positions while engaged in a multiplayer activity.

However, Apple's system avoids storing any raw mapping scans of a user's surroundings in the cloud, said the two sources. Google says it will discard raw mapping data after seven days.

The precise details of how Apple's new system will work, or if it would support three or more players, were not available. But a phone-to-phone approach could eventually run into technical limitations. It could end up being harder to handle three or more players at a time if a player who started the game drops out, a person involved in Google's AR efforts said.

Apple's system for device-to-device is apparently meant to emphasize privacy. We'll know for sure if Apple is implementing such a system on Monday.

May 28, 2018: Apple may unlock the iPhone's NFC chip, making it available for more than Apple Pay.

Apple launched NFC compatible devices in 2014 with the iPhone 6, and since then, the NFC chip has been restricted to only be used for Apple Pay transactions. A big reason for iOS and watchOS have had its NFC chip on lockdown is to protect users from unwanted device access, thus breaching privacy and security; however, that may soon be changing.

Apple Insider believes that Apple could reveal the change at WWDC this year.

"Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Information reports Apple will unlock the potential of near-field communication chips installed in millions of modern iPhones when it releases its next-generation "iOS 12" operating system. The change could also be applied to Apple Watch, which also features the secure communications technology."

What could this change mean for users? Well according to the publication, Apple Employees have already been using thier iPhone's for a more than payments at Apple Park.

" According to the publication, Apple employees are already using their iPhones to unlock doors at Apple Park, likely via custom badge readers detailed in Federal Communications Commission filings last year. The access system was designed by Assa Abloy subsidiary HID Global, which markets similar NFC-based solutions compatible with devices running Google's Android operating system."

May 24, 2018: Apple patent application points to Siri-driven responses when declining calls

A new patent application from Apple points to the possibility of Siri-driven intelligent response options for when you need to decline a call. Rather than requiring you to type out a text message explanation for declining a call when that might not be possible, the system described in this application would let you rely on a digital assistant (Siri) to offer response options based on user-specific data.

Here's part of the patent application's summary (via 9to5Mac):

Some existing techniques for declining an incoming call may include, for example, sending a text message to a caller indicating a reason of declining the call. Typically, a user may be required to manually compose the text message and send to the caller. Manually composing the text message may be cumbersome, difficult, and sometime impossible. For example, if a user receives a call while he or she is driving, he may not be able to compose a text message or may choose to simply declining the call without composing a text message because of safety concerns. Providing a digital assistant that can intelligently determine and provide response options for declining an incoming call is thus desirable. The response options can be determined based on user-specific data, and can be more communicative regarding the reason for declining the call.

Remember that just because Apple is issuing a patent application doesn't mean that this feature is coming soon, if it arrives at all. Patents aren't guarantees of features or hardware, no matter who much we'd like them to be.

January 30, 2018: New Home screen, CarPlay UI, Mail app 'delayed' so iOS 12 can be more about the bug fixes

Every iOS release is a battle for resources between improving what came before and adding what comes next. Looks like iOS 12 might firmly fall into the "fix it" camp:

From Axios:

Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.

Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.

Improvements to ARKit, Parental Controls, and health features are still said to be on track.

This part is more curious:

While a renewed focus on quality and performance might ease some outside criticism, some inside the team question whether the approach will actual lead to higher quality.

If the report is accurate, that could be interpreted as suggesting someone isn't happy about the decision, and could possibly explain the source of the leak. If so, factor sour grapes into the credibility of the information.

If Apple is doing this, it's partially to fix the narrative that software quality has declined in recent years. It'll be interesting to see if it manages to alter that perception, or just feed into the narrative that Apple isn't innovating fast enough.

"Fix iOS... but give me my new Home screen first!"

When will we see iOS 12?

WWDC 2017

Assuming that Apple keeps to its previous patterns, it will show off iOS 12 for the first time during the keynote for the 2018 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). Tim Cook will introduce iOS 12, while Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, will go through its different tentpole features.

It's likely that the first developer beta of iOS 12 will be made available the same day as the presentation. As with the last few iterations of iOS, a public beta should follow later in the summer. The public launch of iOS 12 will likely take place at some point in fall 2018.

What do you want to see in iOS 12?

With iOS 12 over a year away at this point, there's not a lot that we've heard about it. iOS 11 is still in beta, for crying out loud! But that doesn't mean that we can't think about what Apple's got coming down the pipe. Do you think we'll finally get that system-wide dark mode? What about new iPad features? Let us know what you would like to see in iOS 12 in the comments.

Apple Rumors: Here's what we know