With iOS 12, Apple adds security features, performance enhancements, ARKit 2, and more. Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s latest mobile OS, which powers iPhones and iPads.
At Apple’s June 2018 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), iOS 12 was unveiled to the world in a massive 2 hour 15 minute keynote presentation. Apple didn’t waste any time and brought up the elephant in the room: Performance on iOS.
Apple had been under fire for many years for shortcomings with its mobile operating system, including widely publicized bugs and performance issues. With the iOS 12 update, Apple doubled down on performance and ensured the new version of its mobile operating system works smoothly on all iOS devices that it supports. iOS 12 includes improvements to Siri, iMessage, FaceTime, and tools to help you be more aware of, and control, your device usage.
This iOS 12 cheat sheet will be updated on a regular basis to reflect the latest information about the mobile operating system.
SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
What is iOS 12, and will it work on my device?
iOS 12 is the 12th major iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system called iOS. iOS 12 offers a slew of welcome stability and performance improvements, along with new features that are sure to excite users. For starters, iOS 12 promises improvements around app launches, which any user will be happy to hear.
iOS 11 was able to run on many devices, dating all the way back to products released in 2013. Any device that is capable of running iOS 11 will also be able to run iOS 12, thus extending the lifecycles of devices, which could benefit enterprises that provide employees with Apple mobile devices.
SEE: Job description: iOS developer (Tech Pro Research)
iOS 12 is capable of running on the following iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices that are available as of this writing. Newer iOS devices released in 2018 will likely have iOS 12 already pre-installed.
- iPhone Xr
- iPhone Xs
- iPhone Xs Max
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 / 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
- iPhone 6 / 6 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 5s
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro 3rd generation
- 11-inch iPad Pro
- 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 5th generation
- iPad mini (2019)
- iPad mini 4
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 2
- iPod touch 6th generation
What are the key features in iOS 12?
iOS 12 includes numerous performance improvements, including 70% faster access to the camera from the Lock Screen; 50% faster keyboard appearance; and 2x faster app launches when the device is under a heavy workload. All of these performance improvements are likely to significantly impact older devices, but will also boost newer devices like the iPhone X, the iPhone Xs, and the iPad Pro, which are more capable of background tasks and less likely to run into strain under heavy workloads.
The other big change with iOS 12 is the ability for Siri to integrate with nearly all apps through a feature called Shortcuts. Developers will be able to provide a UI to users that gives them the ability to record a custom phrase that activates the app from within Siri on either iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. Apple announced that support for Siri Shortcuts will extend to the recently released HomePod as well. A user can activate these shortcuts from the HomePod as long as the user’s iPhone or iPad is connected to the same network and is nearby.
Apple’s recently acquired Workflow app has made a rebranded appearance as the Shortcuts app with minor UI changes. This app now integrates with Siri and the system more seamlessly to allow users to chain together actions from multiple apps in the Shortcuts app to make automation workflows that are voice activated.
A big change to iOS 12 is the redesigned FaceTime app (Figure A), which now allows for group conversations—a feature that many users have been begging to see. The group conversation feature works with both video and audio and supports up to 32 people in a conversation. This feature also works with iMessage by inviting an entire group from an iMessage thread into a video or audio chat. If someone is late joining, they will be able to join at their leisure by tapping a join button in iMessage. Apple demoed the group conversations feature in FaceTime at WWDC ’18, but the feature was cut from the 12.0 release of iOS. It was introduced in the first public release in iOS 12.1 on October 30, 2018, and was later removed in early 2019 after a security flaw was discovered that allowed potential spying on callers. This was patched in update 12.1.4, which was released on February 7, 2019.
Notifications also received improvements in iOS 12. You can turn on quiet delivery for notifications from particular apps, or turn off notifications for an app altogether. Quiet notifications are delivered to the Notification Center but don’t play a sound, present a banner, or appear on the Lock Screen; this notification management can be done in real time by selecting a notification from the Notification Center or Lock Screen. The ability to group notifications by application will be a big improvement for users who utilize apps that generate a lot of notifications.
If you use your iPhone as an alarm clock, notifications received while in Do Not Disturb mode will not be presented to you until the morning. Another improvement makes it easier to use Do Not Disturb: You can enable the mode for one hour, until the evening, or based on calendar events (e.g., you might enable Do Not Disturb during a meeting and then disable it after the meeting).
Some of the other features in iOS 12 include:
- New Animoji in iMessage
- New Memoji lets you craft Animoji look-alikes to use in messages
- Animoji can be used in FaceTime and the Camera app.
- AR is much improved from the previous version.
- AR Measure app lets you measure things with accuracy by using your iPhone as a virtual tape measure.
- Screen Time lets you easily keep track of time spent in apps and limit time spent in apps.
- The Photos app has been updated with a new For You section that shows memories, sharing suggestions, and highlights photos taken previously.
- Photo search has been improved with the ability to search with multiple keywords and specific location addresses.
- iBooks is now Apple Books, and has a new revamped interface.
- The Stocks app has been redesigned with financial news populated by Apple News, and it’s available for the first time on iPad.
- Voice Memos now syncs via iCloud and is available for the first time on iPad.
- Apple News has been revamped with redesigned navigation, making it easier to discover channels and use the interface.
- Safari automatically recommends stronger passwords.
- AutoFill can remember SMS one-time passwords and will be available as a prompt, so no more copying and pasting.
- Third-party navigation apps will be available for the first time in Apple’s CarPlay interface.
- Siri has been updated and now understands password lookups, photo memories, motorsports, and food and celebrity questions.
- Apple partnered with select universities to provide contactless student ID cards on the iPhone and Apple Watch using NFC to access campus services.
- The battery usage meter has been improved to show usage for the last 24 hours or 10 days.
- New dictionaries for Arabic and English bilingual, Hindi and English bilingual, and Hebrew.
- iPad gestures in iOS 12 are similar to iPhone X: Swipe up on the screen to go Home; access the Control Center by swiping from the top right, and access the Notification Center by swiping from the top left.
What are the new security features in iOS 12?
Apple’s mission to protect user privacy can be seen in the company’s attention to detail and customer privacy in its products.
In previous versions of iOS, Apple added the ability to get notifications when apps want to access system features including camera, microphone, location services, and more. With iOS 12, Safari will protect your privacy by ensuring that websites cannot track your online activity without your permission. Apple prevents advertisers from collecting unique characteristics that can be used to target your devices for online ads.
Apple also makes it easier to use two-factor authentication (2FA) and temporary passwords via SMS. When your device receives a 2FA or temporary password via SMS, it will be remembered by AutoFill so you won’t have to copy and paste the code into the text field in Safari.
In addition, iOS will automatically flag any password that is being reused on websites and in apps so that you don’t run into an issue where one account being compromised causes multiple accounts to become compromised.
What’s ARKit, and how can I experience it?
ARKit is Apple’s augmented reality toolkit for developers, and it was introduced at WWDC 2017. Over the past year, Apple has been working to improve augmented reality on iOS, and using the advanced sensors on the device, has one of the best AR experiences available on mobile devices.
SEE: How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
With ARKit 2 in iOS 12, Apple gives developers even more possibilities when it comes to creating augmented reality apps. ARKit 2 lets multiple people experience AR simultaneously on their own devices in the same room, allowing for interactive experiences like games (Figure B).
In addition, a new file format for AR objects presents new options for shared experiences, like being able to share the current map between multiple devices at the same time, giving users a unique experience for multi-player augmented reality in games and other applications. At WWDC 2018, Apple demoed AR objects inside of the Apple News app and showed how it can provide more depth to stories.
What is Screen Time, and how can I use it?
Screen Time (Figure C) is Apple’s attempt to lessen the impact of technology on our lives. Screen Time will track the apps you use frequently and show where you spent most of the time on your devices. In addition, it lets you set time limits for certain apps.
Once a counter has been reached, the app time limit can be extended, but Apple will still prompt you to not use the app. This feature is great for people to use for self-control of their device usage, and shows that Apple is working to help improve our mental lives as well.
In terms of parental controls, if you have children, this app can be used to set the device limits for certain apps as well, and can be managed from a parent’s device.
When was iOS 12 released?
- iOS 12.0 beta: Released at WWDC on June 4, 2018.
- iOS 12.0 public release: Released to compatible iOS devices on September 17, 2018.
- iOS 12.0.1: Bug fix released on October 8, 2018.
- iOS 12.1: Update released on October 30, 2018 included new emoji, Group FaceTime, and eSIM features for iPhone XS and XR.
- iOS 12.1.1: Bug fix released on December 5, 2018.
- iOS 12.1.2: Released on December 17, 2018 only for iPhones to address bug fixes.
- iOS 12.1.3: Patch released on January 22, 2019 for kernel exploits and important bug fixes.
- iOS 12.1.4: Released on February 7, 2019 to provide bug fixes with Group FaceTime security flaw.
- iOS 12.2: Released on March 25, 2019 and included an update to the News app, 51 security fixes, and support for the 2nd generation AirPods.
How can I get and install iOS 12?
You can download iOS 12 by connecting your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) to iTunes, selecting the device, and then selecting Check For Update. Or, you can install iOS 12 without connecting your device to iTunes by navigating to Settings | General | Software Update and following the prompts for installation.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in June 2018. It has been updated periodically to include the latest information about iOS 12.