After a wait of three months and an unprecedented 12 beta releases,
Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 12…
Apple iOS 12Apple
Who Is It For?
One of the best things about iOS 12 is it runs on every iOS 11 compatible device. That means the iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini 2 or later and 6th generation iPod touch or later. Given those models of iPhone and iPad are now five years old, that’s seriously impressive support.
Compatible devices should automatically be prompted to install iOS 12. If not, you can manually trigger it by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Apple iOS 12.1 beta testers (more later), remember you have to unroll your device for the update to appear.
Every iOS update varies in size, depending on your device and which version of iOS it is upgrading from. As a generational release iOS 12 is predictably big coming in at up to 1.6GB for the iPhone X (which gets the lion’s share of the new features).
The Deal Breakers
Before we get onto the good stuff, why might you not upgrade to iOS 12? In short: because it’s far from bugfree.
The headline issues are connectivity. A number of users are reporting they either have trouble making calls, calls fail completely or their mobile data no longer works (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, etc). CarPlay is also proving temperamental for many iOS 12 upgraders (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, etc) while there are speaker, camera and user interface glitches (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, etc).
Predictably, battery life isn’t great for a lot of users either, despite this being a primary objective for iOS 12. Given the reindexing that happens with iOS updates, however, I’d be optimistic some of these issues will improve in the next few days.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are many complaints about iOS 12 removing the Bluetooth icon, but Apple has confirmed this is by design and you will have to dig through settings from now on to get Bluetooth information. Great. New Animojis are also reserved for iPhones with Face ID.
What’s my take on all this?
I’ve seen a lot worse from previous generational iOS upgrades, so this is actually not a bad start. Not everyone is having the problems listed above either, and Apple hasn’t had to rush out a point release the same day, as it did with the farcical release of iOS 10.
So What Do You Get?
iOS 12 has the longest iOS release notes I can remember, Apple’s official statement is:
“iOS 12 brings performance improvements and exciting new features to iPhone and iPad. Photos introduces new features to help you rediscover and share the photos in your library, Memoji—a new, more customizable Animoji—make Messages more expressive and fun, Screen Time helps you and your family understand and make the most of the time spent on devices, Siri Shortcuts deliver a faster way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri, augmented reality becomes even more engaging with the ability for developers to create shared AR experiences, and new privacy features help protect you from being tracked on the web.”
You can get a full breakdown of all the new features here but for me, these are the highlights:
Performance Improvements – mentioned somewhat fatuously with most iOS updates, they are actually tangible in iOS 12. Apple claims apps will launch 2x faster, the camera 70% faster and the keyboard will open 50% faster, animations should be smoother too. The feedback I’m receiving is this feels accurate.
Better Notifications – A big one. Like Android, iOS 12 finally groups notifications together while Instant Tuning also borrows from Google, allowing you to control settings for specific notifications directly from an alert. This could be blocking a specific app’s notifications or telling that app not to buzz your phone for its notifications.
Third Party CarPlay Support – finally, Google Maps and Waze can come to CarPlay as Apple has opened up its system to third parties. If only CarPlay wasn’t proving so buggy in this initial release (see above).
Screen Time – essentially a tracker for how you use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, it compiles this data into daily and weekly charts helping you to use your phone more responsibly. This includes setting ‘Downtime’ periods which block notifications and restrict device access for your children. Google made a similar move in Android 9 Pie with ‘Digital Wellbeing’ and the trend is very welcome.
Siri Shortcuts – lets you create bespoke commands for Siri, and the best part about this is it’s compatible with third-party apps. Consequently, commands can be as simple as getting a third party sports app to go straight to your favourite team, or as complex as combining multiple functions such automatically ordering a coffee from your local Starbucks when you leave your home at a certain time on a certain day.
Siri Translations – now supports 50 languages
Camera Improvements – there are multiple new filters and effects, Portrait Mode has upgraded face detection for more accurate background bokeh (aka blur) and QR codes are highlighted automatically when spotted.
Photo Memories – Siri can now pull up photos and videos based on people, places, events and keywords. This also extends to the Photos gallery which has a new ‘For You’ tab with automatically selected highlights from your reel – a core feature of Google Photos.
RAW Editing Support – a big one for photography enthusiasts. If you don’t know what a RAW file is, however, you don’t need this.
ARKit 2 – ARKit was heavily hyped, but didn’t break out in iOS 11, so iOS 12 brings generation two with better face tracking, object detection, location-based sharing and a shareable file format (USDZ) for attaching your creations to Mail and Messages.
Animoji and Memoji – Four new Animoji ( T. rex, ghost, koala and tiger) plus tongue and wink detection, while Memoji lets you create a bespoke avatar of yourself.
New UIs: Apple Books, News and Stocks have all been updated with overhauled interfaces to improve navigation, such as the new Book Store tab for browsing and buying new titles, as well as organising your library.
Improved Privacy – iOS 12 locks down tracking even more tightly in Safari stopping Share buttons and Comment widgets on sites from tracking you without permission and blocking device identifies used by advertisers (Google will hate this). Safari can also suggest and store passwords in iCloud Keychain and sync them to all your Apple devices.
More Do Not Disturb Options – DND can automatically dim your display and silence overnight notifications until you next unlock your device. Naturally, you can set the time and which days this will happen.
Apple’s official security page also confirms iOS 12 patches significant security holes in Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity as well as Notes, Messages and three in Safari.
Apple iOS 12 Verdict: Install (In A Week)
I’m on the fence with iOS 12. I admire Apple’s focus on performance and stability and, despite the bugs listed above, must stress there’s a lot less than I’ve found in previous generational upgrades.
That said, historically the larger the update the larger the number of bugs and with only a small fraction of compatible devices having upgraded at this stage, I don’t have the full picture to go on. As such, I’d be amazed if we have seen everything. For now, I will give iOS 12 a cautious thumbs up, on the condition that no major new problems arise over the next week.
Needless to say, I will keep this article updated so be sure to check back regularly over the next few weeks.
The Road Ahead
Touched upon above, Apple has already issued the first beta of iOS 12.1. This doesn’t mean iOS 12 has a serious problem, it’s simply Apple looking to bring several features which didn’t make it in time for the release of iOS 12. The most notable is Group FaceTime chats which support an incredible (crazy) 32 people simultaneously.
Before iOS 12.1, however, expect an iOS 12.0.1 bug fix. It’s inevitable after such a large update, but I hope this will be more about tweaks than addressing any seismic showstoppers which have yet to reveal themselves.
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