The world watches on as Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook takes the center stage in California. It is the WorldWide Developer’s Congress (WWDC) 2018 edition, and expectations are sky-high. Every year Apple brings new announcements and big news in WWDC. It is also the time when every person in that room, or in their own living room watching get a taste of the Apple experience to come. It is when people find out what they are going to get in upcoming Apple devices, or what they can expect from their own current Apple devices. It is Apple’s annual keynote in terms of softwares and apps to come; so no new iPhone just yet guys. But there is something else that is ‘i’ related, and that is the iOS. Welcome to the iOS 12
It is quite hard to believe that iOS is already coming to its 12th generation. It is frankly also quite hard to believe the Apple manages to keep the iOS fresh in every iteration while still maintaining the same basic layout, look, and (certain) design elements on the interface. It is a remarkable feat, anyone has to admit.
Of course with every new iOS there are always new features, new sort of trick which begs the question; who says you cannot teach a new trick to an old dog. That may be the reason why the iOS interface looks fresh all the time. So what else is new with iOS 12?
Old Dog New Tricks
One of the things that was introduced with iOS 11 was Animojis. It is where the front-facing camera of the device captures your face, and transforms all your expressions into a virtual head of an animal. That fun feature, that seemed to capture the world over, obviously stayed. But it has been improved to not only scan your face and create expressions with the preset animations and avatars. Now you can create your own avatar and store that avatar in your device.
The new feature is called Memoji. Alongside some new Animoji avatars you get to create your own avatar that resembles you in the device and use it to have some fun with your friends. It works very much like the Animoji function so those who are already familiar with Animoji should be easily at home.
FaceTime With ALL of Your Friends
FaceTime was a very interesting feature that was introduced to iOS 10. It made headlines as one of the most interesting features that was introduced then. It revolutionized video calls among the Apple community. It worked great too with stable connectivity and high-resolution video calls. But there has always been a missing function with FaceTime; group video conferences.
Before iOS 12 you would have to rely on things like Google’s Hangouts (or Duo, for mobile), or Skype to make group calls. With the iOS 12 you can ditch those apps and do Group FaceTime with all your friends. Of course they would have to have FaceTime on their device too. Not to forget they have to be using an Apple device to harness the full potential of Group FaceTime.
The interface makes plenty of sense though. It might look cluttered in some sense but the layout is simple to work with. The most important people are pushed up large and center. The person speaking gets the most real estate in the display so that everyone in the call (up to 32 people apparently) can focus on that person. This does sound like video teleconferencing made simple.
Siri has been in business longer than the Google Assistant technically. It started out life in a humble Apple iPhone 5 (correct me if I am wrong). It was flawed at the time but it was a glimpse to what was possible with a smart voice assistant. It makes more and more sense now. But making it more conversational is not enough. The Apple standard was way above that. Siri has to be more intuitive, more natural, and more assistive.
That is exactly what they did with Siri this round. They made Siri even more helpful with Siri Shortcuts. It works like an IFTTT tool in some sense. What you can do is you can group a bunch of apps together and launch them as a single command via Siri. If not, Siri will intelligently suggest app groups to launch at your preferred command. For example when you start your journey home you only need to tell Siri; “let’s go home” and Siri might launch apps like Apple Maps, Apple Music, and Apple CarPlay to get your commute home ready. It eliminates the need for you to launch the apps one by one and could save you a tonne of time.
The Photos app have existed ever since the first iPhone was introduced. Over the years the app itself has received many overhauls changing its look. The app itself has become even more intuitive as time passes. On the iOS 12 platform though Photos receives some new features.
The Photos app retains the same great look as the one you see on iOS 11 so navigating it is as easy and intuitive as before. Now though iOS Photos combine Memories and iCloud to create a shared album that you can view from one place. The Photos app is even cleverer now with suggestions to share the photos with your friends that are with you in the photo. You can also now search for photos categorised under events, venue, groups, categories, and even people. That way you can always find the photo you want anytime.
Smarter Time Management
With displays that could look better than real life, and with so much content on your phone that you will only finish looking at it by the end of the year; it is almost impossible to take your eyes off your smartphone these days. You have not even considered the AAA game titles you can find on your iPhone. Because of all these things, the amount of time you spend with your smartphones get longer and longer. That is a bad thing, and Apple recognises that.
So they introduced three new modes to the device to help you reduce your time with your iPhone. The first is known as Do Not Disturb mode. Before all of you go off and say; “Do Not Disturb mode was already on the device”, it is, yes. But they now extend the Do Not Disturb mode into your sleeping time. Beyond your movie watching, meetings, and whatever you use the mode for Apple has made it even better for your sleep time. You can even let it auto-activate at specific times. Once activated you iPhone will hide all sorts of notifications and dim its display until the next morning so you can catch some sleep.
Even the notifications on the device received a small overhaul. Users get more control over how notifications are delivered to them now. You can now ask iPhone to quietly deliver your Instagram notifications for example. If not, you can bundle all your social media notifications as 1 if you like. Fewer distractions means more productivity.
Then there is Screen Time. It literary tracks your screen time and gives you insight on what you look at most of the time at your screen time. It is really like watching what is consuming so much of your battery life in the backgrounds or when you use the device. Except it is telling you what you are, or your kids are looking at when the device is on. That insight not only allow you to find out how you or your kids are interacting with your devices. You can control the amount of screen time you get or even your children. You can set the device to either remind you that your time with the device is up and you should get up and do something else. For your kids, you can set the display to turn off after a certain amount of time quota is filled up.
Augmented Reality(AR) is really the future, according to Apple. Then again that is how you get the Animoji and Memoji anyway; by harnessing the power of AR. One of the things that the Cupertino guys believe in plenty is their independent developers. That is also the reason they have these developer congresses every year. This year’s AR focus is reinforced with ARKit 2.
The second generation of ARKit features all the great things developers could do the first generation ARKit and more. ARKit 2 now allows developers to create something called a shared experience with the iPhone or the iPad. ARKit 2 allows developers to create an AR based multiplayer games via either the iPhone or the iPad. Even if it is a single player game or app, ARKit 2 has spectator mode so that your friends can see what you are doing in that same AR space.
With the ARKit 2 as well measuring things has never been easier. The engine now has a measuring tool which allows you to measure distances or measurements of a table, cabinet, wall space, and what not. All that from your iPhone or iPad. Say bye-bye to your measuring tape; you still need your weighing scale, do not stand on your iPhone or iPad.
Then there is Quicklook with ARKit 2. What that does is allow you, on your iPhone or iPad get a 3D object and place it anywhere in your room. That way you can test fittings of a cabinet or closet, for example without getting the actual item in your house. That saves you time, and money, and energy.
iOS 12 – The Next iGeneration
The iOS 12 is the ultimate iOS by the look of what they have included. Yes some of the functions may be already available in the market via Android (ehhem Tango ehhem). But some of the new functions really do shine and is truly unique. The Siri Shortcuts for example is something new and definitely something we could appreciate. But the improvements made just made the iOS even better than before.
There are a tonne more upgrades in the iOS 12 that we did not feature too. In iOS 12 Apple’s Stocks that was only available on the iPhone previously is now available on the iPad. The Apple Books and News apps have been redesigned for more intuitive navigation and with more relevant contents suggested to users. With the new iOS 12 also Apple CarPlay now supports third-party navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze. Even Voice Memo has made its way to iPad and adds iCloud synchronization to prevent you losing your important voice notes. Lastly, Apple wallet on the iPhone and Apple Watch now allows you to store student IDs to make it easier for students to access their campus.
The new iOS 12 is technically still in its beta testing phase which also means that it is still only available to members of the Apple Developer Program here. A public beta will be available to users here, later in the month though for those who wants to test Apple’s latest and greatest. The final version will be available as a free update for iPhone 5s onward, and all iPad and iPad Pro devices later on.
Also published on Medium.