iOS 12 first impressions: What’s Apple’s new iPhone and iPad software like? | Tech News

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The final version of iOS 12 will be downloadable to your iPhone and iPad in September, but before that a public beta has been launched. Check out How to download the iOS 12 beta.

iOS 12 will run on an extensive list of iPhones and iPads. But, essentially, it will support any iOS device released since 2013 and if you’ve got iOS 11 currently then you’ll be able to run iOS 12. Check out: Can I get iOS 12 on my iPhone or iPad?

So is it any good? And what do you think of the new features? We’ve been running the beta on two devices, a 2017 iPhone 8 Plus and a 2016 iPad Pro 12.9. We opted not to stick it on our iPhone X as that’s our main device.

As always, we recommend putting beta software on a secondary device rather than something you’re dependent on. 

Should you have less Screen Time?

Like the new Android P Dashboard, Screen Time enables you to quickly check out how much you use your phone and apps like Facebook (surely not EVERY day?!). You can see a weekly activity summary and set time limits for each app. You’ll then be notified when, er, time is up. You can also set ‘app allowances’ for kids with Screen Time for Family. 

Screen Time replaces the old Restrictions menu in Settings > General. 

iOS 12 performance

This one is a little tricky to measure when the software is at the beta stage. Apple said it is “doubling down on performance” with this update after critcicism of the performance and stability of iOS 11. Apps should launch up to 40 per cent faster and although opening many apps seems very snappy, some apps still lagged; perhaps these need optimising. 

Grouped notifications

This is really good – grouped notifications as well as the ability to control notification settings from the lock screen. You can tap any notification group to expand it as well as hard press as before (if your phone supports 3D Touch) for more options, such as to Like or Reply if it’s a Twitter notification. Swipe any notification and you’ll get more options. From here you can change the notification settings for each app very easily. 

With Do Not Disturb, a new Do not disturb during bedtime feature will hide notifications on a device’s lock screen at night to stop you looking at 3am. (Tip: turn your iPhone off for better sleep!)

You can also hard press this function so you can easily set a time limit for it. There will also be instant adjustments. You “press in” to a notification and see a few options, like Send to notification center.

Interface changes on the iPad

The iPad version of iOS 12 is, of course, broadly similar to the iPhone version. However, there are a couple of interface changes. You can now swipe down from the top right to get to the Control Center. Apple introduced the iPad dock last year – you had to swipe further for the Control Center. This update is clearly designed to remove any confusion. It also matches the interface of iPhone X – top right for Control Center, top left for Notification Center. 

The iPad status bar now includes the date as well. Apple wants to make its tablet – especially the iPad Pro – a laptop replacement so this is a further little move in that direction. 

Size up with the Measure app

iOS 12 features a new ARKit-utilising measurement tool called Measure. It can measure and detect real-world objects and it works really well – indeed someone on Twitter used it to inform Subway that one of their sandwiches was, er, a little shorter than the cited six inches.

There are two tabs in the app – measure and level – and the app has a camera view, which lets you tap, drag a line, and measure. The level bit of the app isn’t new but used to be incorporated in the Compass app. The Compass app is now just the compass, without the level feature.

As part of iOS 12 Apple has improved ARKit with face tracking, 3D object detection, and sharing.

The For You tab in Photos

The Photos app features a new For You tab, similar to Apple Music. To be honest, this is isn’t a great leap from the old app, but it incorporates the old Memories area plus shared albums. You can also now enter multiple search terms and get suggestions.

News, Voice Memos and Stocks enhancements

Likewise, Apple News now has a new Browse tab, as well as a new sidebar on the iPad. Apple News is now built into Stocks, too.

The Stocks app has been rebuilt and is now on the iPad complete with business news from the Apple News app. 

Voice Memos has also been rebuilt, and is coming to the iPad and Mac. At last – you can now sync recordings via iCloud. Can you tell we’ve wanted that for a while?

Check out Siri Shortcuts

Now apps will be able to have an “Add to Siri” button to create a Siri shortcut. So you can say, “Siri I lost my keys,” which could then launch Tile, for example (providing your Tile hasn’t run out of battery!).

Siri can now handle routines. So, on your way home from work, you’ll be able to automatically send a message to your partner, for example. 

Other enhancements

We don’t know anybody who uses Apple Books, but there’s now a beautiful new design and a Reading Now section so you can resume books where you left off. Be warned that changes made to the new Library won’t sync with devices that aren’t able to run iOS 12 or the forthcoming macOS 10.14 Mojave

CarPlay is getting third-party navigation support, meaning Google Maps and Waze will soon be accessible from CarPlay – pretty good news. You can now do group FaceTime calls with up to 32 people. We’ll update this feature when we’ve managed to have one of these. Memoji are Animoji of yourself. It’s different from Samsung’s AR emoji; you can select your skin colour, hair and other features – like Animoji these are available for iPhone X only currently. 

Finally, software updates can now be installed automatically – you can turn this feature on and off in Settings > General > Software Update.

iOS 12 early verdict

While this early version of iOS 12 is a beta and so too early to talk about performance, the early signs are encouraging. There’s nothing truly spectacular here, but there are several nice-to-haves. Screen Time brings a bit more clarity to those who want to restrict their devices – or those of their family – in some way. And the efforts for better notification management are very welcome. Add to Siri shortcuts have the potential to be very powerful and we’re looking forward to playing with those over the coming days and weeks! 

Now why not check out Will iOS 12 run on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch?

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