Tech Guide

Here are the best new updates coming to your iPhone and iPad in iOS 12

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center on June 4, 2018 in San Jose, California.
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The best new updates coming to your iPhone and iPad in iOS 12

Apple unveiled iOS 12, the newest version of its software, during WWDC 2018 on Monday. IOS 12 will be available for iPhones and iPads for free later this year.

These are the biggest new features you need to know about:

It will feel faster

Apple said it's "doubling down" on performance so that iPhones and iPads feel faster and more responsive. It's also going to be available for all of the devices supported by iOS 11, including the 2013 iPhone 5s. This means apps will launch up to 40 percent faster than in iOS 11. Apple said it does this by detecting when you need increased performance and pushing the processor inside your phone or iPad to focus on that task.

Siri Shortcuts

Apple updating Siri with Shortcuts

Siri is getting some improvements in iOS 12. With a new "Shortcuts" app, users can set pre-determined Siri queries that automatically launch apps. If you say, "Help me relax," it can start playing music and dim the lights. Or you can tell Siri you need to order groceries, and it'll launch a grocery delivery app. Siri will learn, so if it knows you always get coffee in the morning, it can suggest that you place your regular order through a coffee app ahead of time. If you're running late for a meeting, it can suggest you message the meeting organizer that you're behind schedule.

Do Not Disturb During Bedtime

Apple has a bunch of apps that aim to help you curb your phone usage. "Do Not Disturb During Bedtime" is being enhanced so that you don't see notifications while you're trying to sleep at night. You can choose when this ends: whether you leave a specific location or if it's been on for a pre-set amount of time.

Screen Time

iOS 12 Screentime app shows time in individual apps

Apple will provide a summary each week to show exactly how you used your iPhone during the week. It shows how much time you spent on your device, how long you spent inside specific apps, how often you picked up your phone (and when), and which apps are sending you the most notifications.

For people who want to use apps less, Apple will offer app limits. You can set how long you can use an app each day — like Instagram — and Apple will tell you as you've started to reach that limit. You can grant an extension if you want, otherwise, the app is off limits for the rest of the day.

Parents can use this feature to create allowances. They can create "downtime" so kids can use apps at bedtime, or limit time inside apps by category (games or social apps, for example) or by specific apps. Parents can choose movies, apps and websites that are appropriate, too.

Much better notifications

Apple is also trying to control the quality of notifications. If you see a notification, you can press it and decide to make sure it never shows on your lock screen or turn it off entirely. Siri will recommend you turn off notifications for apps you don't even use, too. Grouped Notifications are now going to be grouped by thread, topic and app. If you tap in, you can see more from a specific app. Or, with a single swipe, you can dismiss all of those notifications.

Messages and Memoji

Apple shows off new effects in iOS camera

Apple is going to let you customize your own animated emoji, or Animoji, with a spinoff called "Memoji" — it's basically a 3D version of yourself that can move based on your facial expressions. It's still only supported on the iPhone X right now. You'll be able to choose your hairstyle, skin color, freckles, eye color, head shape, glasses and more.

Other new Animoji coming in iOS 12 include a tiger, a koala, a ghost and a T-Rex.

Messages will also let you snap pictures of yourself and add custom text, backgrounds and more, which can be sent right inside the Messages application.

FaceTime group calling

Apple announces group Facetime

FaceTime is getting group calling support with the ability to add up to 32 people into a single FaceTime video call. Apple is integrating FaceTime into Messages, too, so you can turn a group chat chain right into a group video chat. A roster of everyone on the call is included at the bottom of the screen, so you can see everyone who has joined the call. When someone speaks, their tile gets larger automatically. A double tap on any person in the call brings them front and center, too. Filters, stickers and other effects are supported in the FaceTime group chat.

Augmented reality

Apple announces update to augmented reality developer kit

Augmented reality, or AR, was introduced with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X last year. It allows apps to superimpose computer-generated images on top of a real-time screen of the real world — most famously put to use in the hit game from a couple years ago, Pokemon Go.

Now Apple has a new file format called "USDZ" that lets developers bring AR effects into other applications. Apple imagines use-cases for this in a shopping site for Fender, the guitar maker, where one could be shopping for a new guitar and might want to see what it looks like in real life. Tap a button, and the guitar magically appears rendered in front of you, as if it exists right in your living room.

Apple also announced ARKit 2, which lets multiple users interact with augmented reality at the same time. Two people might use iPhones to play a game of chess on a coffee table, each with their own iPhone or iPad for controls. Lego, the toy block maker, showed an entire Lego playset come to life on a table with 3D Lego people running around on the tabletop. It supports up to four people at once. The new apps will be coming out later this year.

A new app called Measure

Apple showcases Measure app

Apple's new Measure app lets you measure the distance between two objects, lines along surfaces and more. Instead of relying on measuring tape, for example, you can just use your phone to check the dimensions of something. Developers have made similar apps before, but this is the first time Apple is including one natively inside iOS 12. It uses AR to function.


iOS 12 has a ton of updates to its Photos features.

It features "search suggestions," where it will highlight key moments, places and events it thinks you'll be interested in. You can also search through more than 4 million events that Photos can identify, such as concerts. A new "For You" tab includes the memory movies, photos that were taken on the same day in past years, and suggestions for photo effects you might want to apply. Finally, Apple added "sharing suggestions" to Photos, which suggests people Apple thinks you might want to share that album with. If a friend was at the same event, Photos will suggest pictures that friend can share back with you so that both people have all the pictures from the event.

App updates

Apple is also updating some of its apps. News, for example — one of my favorites — has a new browse tab to find channels, topics and your favorite news sources. On the iPad, there's a new sidebar where you can check different news sources by tapping into each one individually.

The Stocks app has new chart lines that show stock performance throughout the day, but it will also include stories from Apple News that apply to the stocks you're searching. If you're reading about Intel, for example, you'll see curated Apple News stories about topics that involve Intel. Stocks will also come to the iPad in iOS 12. Stocks are listed on the left, while news is listed on the right.

Apple's iOS 12 brings stocks into the News app

Apple's Voice Memos app is also getting revamped, including with support for the iPad for the first time. iCloud support lets you keep recordings in sync across your devices, too, such as an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac, so you don't need to transfer the file between all three.

Apple Books is a new name for the Books application. It has a revamped store that makes it easier to find new eBooks and Audiobooks.


CarPlay is getting an update in iOS 12. It will finally support third-party navigation apps, including Waze and Google Maps. That's huge news for drivers like me who prefer Google Maps over Apple Maps. Previously, drivers could only use Apple Maps, which isn't always as accurate — in my experience — as Google Maps.