New Features in iOS 12

What's New in iOS 12

  • Apple introduced the newest version of its iOS operating system, iOS 12, on June 4 at the keynote event of the Worldwide Developers Conference.

  • With iOS 12, Apple doubled down on performance, working from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads faster and more responsive. Apple has made improvements on devices both old and new, and iOS 12 has been designed to run on all devices able to run iOS 11.
  • With Apple's performance improvements, apps launch faster, the keyboard appears faster, and the Camera is quicker to open. Apple has also optimized the system when it's under load, making iOS devices faster when you need performance the most
  • Though Apple focused on under-the-hood improvements for iOS 12, there is a long list of new features in the update that makes this an impressive new version of iOS.
  • Apple introduced new customizable Animoji called Memoji, which you can personalize to look like you. Memoji, Animoji, and other fun effects can be used both in Messages and with FaceTime through the new Effects camera. In a later update, Apple also plans to add Group FaceTime with support for up to 32 people.
  • iri is a whole lot smarter in iOS 12. Siri can answer questions about famous people, food, and motorsports, and there's a whole new Shortcuts feature that's built on the Workflow app. With Shortcuts, you can build a huge range of automations using first- and third-party apps, which can then be activated with Siri voice commands.  
Time management and focus tools

Apple built a comprehensive set of time management and focus tools into iOS 12, starting with a new Screen Time feature. Screen Time provides weekly activity reports detailing how you used your iOS device, including how much time you spend in each app, how often you pick up your phone, how long you spend on the iPhone or iPad, and which apps are sending the most notifications. 
App Limits, a part of Screen Time, lets you set a time limit on apps to remind you to use them less, while new Parental Controls let parents see how much time children are spending on their devices and limit that time with richer, more granular control options.  

Do Not Disturb at Bedtime

  • Do Not Disturb at Bedtime lets you turn off notifications at night so you only see the time, and Do Not Disturb in general is easier than ever to use with DND options that include ending times available in Control Center through a 3D Touch or force press. With these DND features, you can set Do Not Disturb for an hour, while you're at a specific location, or for the duration of a meeting.
  • Do Not Disturb in iOS 12 has been enhanced in several ways. First of all, there's a new Bedtime mode that's designed to hide all of your incoming notifications at nighttime, so all you see is the time and date.
  • Bedtime mode is designed to allow you to glance at your phone in the middle of the night without being distracted by notifications. In the morning, Bedtime mode can be toggled off with a tap, allowing all those muted notifications to roll in.
  • Multiple apps have new features in iOS 12. There's a Browse feature in Apple News and an Apple News sidebar on the iPad, and Apple has entirely redesigned the Stocks app and introduced it on the iPad. Voice Memos has also been revamped and made available on the iPad, and iBooks has been entirely overhauled with a new look, a Reading Now feature for syncing what you're reading across devices, and a new name -- Apple Books.

  • ARKit 2.0 in iOS 12 adds new functionality that has the potential to make augmented reality far more useful within iOS apps. Face tracking and object rendering have been improved, and there's new 3D object detection, but the key changes include shared experiences that let two people see the same AR environment on separate devices and persistence, which allows AR experiences to be built around an object or physical space.
  • Apple is introducing a new USDZ file format developed alongside Pixar, which will allow AR assets to be used across the system, in Safari, Messages, Mail, and more. USDZ will let you place 3D AR objects into the real world within these apps. Apple is working with many companies like Adobe to implement support for USDZ in unique ways.

Performance Improvements

  • Ahead of the debut of iOS 12, rumors suggested Apple had shelved several features in order to focus on performance and reliability. That turned out to be true, and Apple says that it has worked to make iOS 12 fast and efficient on all devices, including older iPhones and iPads.
  • On an iPhone 6 Plus, for example, Apple says apps launch up to 40 percent faster, while the keyboard can appear up to 50 percent faster. When opening up the camera on the Lock screen to take a photo, it launches up to 70 percent faster. 

  • Apple has worked to make animations smoother and more responsive across the operating system, so when you perform tasks like accessing Control Center, scrolling in apps, or swiping up when multitasking, everything feels more fluid.
  • Apple's "deepest focus" in iOS 12 was on optimizing the system when it's under load, and on stage, Apple's Craig Federighi said that apps launch up to twice as fast under load, as does the Share Sheet.
  • Apple made these improvements by optimizing iOS across its full range of A-Series chips. In iOS 12, when an iPhone or an iPad detects that a burst of performance is needed for something like launching an app, processor performance ramps up instantly and then ramps back down again to preserve battery life.

Screen Time and Limiting Distractions

  • iOS 12 includes a comprehensive set of built-in features that are designed to help you focus, limit distraction, monitor your iOS device usage, and better understand how you are using your time throughout the day.
  • Screen Time, a new section built into the Settings app of the iPhone and iPad, collects data on what you're doing on your iPhone to give you an idea of how much time you're spending on your iOS devices. 

  • Screen Time is a super detailed and interesting look into how you're spending time on your iPhone, with Apple providing a weekly Activity Report for you to review. With this info, Apple is giving people the details necessary to make decisions on overall app usage and whether there's a need to cut back. You can see your usage across all of your devices or on just a single device with the available Screen Time options.


  • iOS 12 brings greater control over the notifications that you're receiving on a daily basis with a new Instant Tuning feature. When a notification comes in on the iPhone or iPad, you can press on it to get options that include Delivery Quietly or Turn Off.
  • Choosing Deliver Quietly makes it so an app's notifications show up in the Notification Center and create a badge on the app icon, but don't appear on the Lock Screen or display banners. 
  • Turn Off, as the name suggests, turns off all of the notifications for a given app, and there's also an option to go to the Settings app to see a full list of notification controls for each app. For apps that you're no longer using that are continuing to send notifications, Siri offers up suggestions to turn them off.
  • Apple has also added notification grouping in iOS 12, a highly desired feature that cleans up the Lock Screen by grouping incoming notifications by app, topic, and more, with the ability to tap on a notification group to see individual notifications.
  • You can also clear notifications by group, which is a useful feature for managing long lists of notifications.

App Limits and Downtime

  • For iPhone and iPad users who want active reminders to spend less time within a particular app, Apple has implemented App Limits.
  • You can set a time limit on an app category, such as games, and when you've spent the specified amount of time using that app category, your iOS device will send you a notification letting you know that it's time to move on to something else. You can, of course, ignore the warning, but it's a useful feature who need a little help managing their time.

Parental Controls

  • Screen Time, App Limits, and Downtime, along with Content and Privacy Restrictions, are all available to parents to monitor how children are using their time and set limitations on what's available on a child's iOS device.
  • Parents can restrict app access with App Limits and Downtime, while Screen Time can be used to see how much time a child is spending on an iPhone or iPad. Content and Privacy lets parents restrict certain kinds of apps, set privacy controls, prevent purchases, disable passcode changes, set content age limits, and more.
  • You can, for example, set a child's iPad or iPhone to disallow access to apps in the "Games" category during set periods of the day while leaving access available to the phone and educational apps.
  • With tools available to set specific app limits for children, Apple's Parental Controls in iOS 12 are far more robust, providing parents with more information on and control over iPhone and iPad usage.


  • Apple overhauled Siri in a unique way in iOS 12, incorporating the Workflow app that it purchased in 2017 deep into the operating system.
  • With a new Siri Shortcuts feature, you can create multi-step shortcuts using third-party apps that can then be activated using a Siri voice command. So, for example, you can create a shortcut to do something like turn on the thermostat at home using the Nest app, text your roommate that you're on the way with Messages, and open up the Maps app with directions home all with a single "I'm going home" Siri command. 

  • Or for something like a surfing trip, you can use a single Siri command to complete several tasks like getting a surf report, getting the current weather, calculating an estimated time of arrival to the beach, and getting a reminder to put on your sunscreen.

Animoji and Memoji

  • Animoji recordings can now last up to 30 seconds, up from 10 seconds in iOS 11, so you can record much longer Animoji messages. 

  • There are also new Animoji options, including Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex, plus an all new customizable Animoji experience called Memoji.
  • With Memoji, you can make a personalized Animoji in the Messages app that looks just like you using a deep set of customization options. You can choose skin color, hair color, hair style, eye color, eyebrows, nose, features like freckles and facial hair, accessories, and headwear.
  • There's no limit on the number of Memoji you're able to create, so you can add multiples for every look you want to express. As mentioned below, Memoji and Animoji can be used in both Messages and FaceTime in iOS 12.


  • Along with new Animoji and Memoji on the iPhone X, the Messages app on all devices offers a new Effects camera that lets you add fun effects to photos using the camera built into Messages.
  • Tapping on the star on the left of the Messages camera lets you access a selection of filters, shapes, text and text effects, stickers (which can be downloaded from the iMessage App Store), and sketching tools that can be used to enhance photos before you send them within Messages.

  • You can also apply Animoji and Memoji faces to your own face in the camera, for fun cartoon overlays.

Group FaceTime

  • New people can be added to an ongoing Group FaceTime chat at any time, and Group FaceTime calls can be answered on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and HomePod. With the latter two options, you can only join a chat with audio rather than with video. Group FaceTime calls send a silent ringless notification to participants that can be tapped to join.
  • FaceTime also includes the same Effects camera that's been introduced in Messages, letting you access Animoji and Memoji, filters, stickers, and more while FaceTiming someone.
  • FaceTime has been integrated more deeply into Messages, so you can initiate a FaceTime call in either an individual chat or while in a group chat (coming this fall).


  • The Photos app in iOS 12 is better than ever thanks to a range of performance and feature improvements. Search is more powerful, allowing you to search for businesses by name or by broad categories like restaurants, and Apple has added more than four million event references for things like sporting events and concerts, so you can also search by event and find your photos that way.
  • Search suggestions have been added to help you find content before you even start typing, with Apple offering up suggestions that include Events, People, Places, Categories, and Groups, and you can also use multiple search terms at one time.
  • A new "For You" tab has been added to the Photos app, offering up a selection of Memories, recent photos from shared albums, photos you took on the current day in past years, and suggestions for adding a new flare to your best existing images through image edits.
  • There's also a "Shared Suggestions" feature that's designed to take a selection of photos you've taken that involve friends or family and offer up quick sharing options. It recognizes who is in a photo and suggests sharing the images with that person, and then, for that person, it also suggests sending their own photos back to you with a "Share Back" feature, making it easy to exchange photos linked to an event.

Apple News

  • A new Browse tab in Apple News is designed to make it easier to discover new channels and topics and to get to your favorites. On the iPad specifically, there's a new Apple News sidebar for more quickly navigating through news topics.

Apple Music

  • Apple Music didn't get a huge overhaul in iOS 12, but Apple did introduce a revamped artist's page with larger portraits and the ability to play an artist's discography from a shuffle button on the page itself.
  • There's also a new option to search for songs via lyrics for Apple Music songs that include lyric information.


  • iOS 12 includes an all-new Apple-designed augmented reality app called Measure, which is designed to make it easy to measure objects using augmented reality functionality.
  • Measure lets you measure lines and detect shapes like rectangles to get specific dimensions with just a few taps on the iPhone's display.



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