iOS 12 promises new life for older devices this fall


Good news for users of Apple's phones, tablets, notebooks and other devices: iOS 12 is coming, and it's bringing a number of welcome improvements. Notably, iOS 12 should bring a variety of performance improvements to a broad range of devices. Additionally, the OS is set to offer more control over notifications, more information about app and device usage, and improved Siri functionality. New augmented reality tools promise more robust AR experiences. Finally, an iOS update wouldn't be complete without updates to emoji, messaging, and FaceTime.

Apple is making bold claims about the performance improvements on the way with iOS 12 to hardware old and new. In a test comparing the performance of iOS 11.4 and iOS 12 on its iPhone 6 Plus (a device launched in 2014), Apple claims that the camera app launched up to 70% faster in the newer version. The company goes on to say that in the same test, the keyboard appeared up to 50% faster, and that testers reported more responsive typing. iOS 12's improvements could give a new breath of life to devices going back as far as the iPhone 5S.

iOS 12 should give users more information about how they use their devices along with tools to manage their usage responsibly. The new OS' improved notification management will let users have notifications delivered quietly, turned off, or grouped together for clarity. Alongside these changes, the Do Not Disturb system also got new features. New modes will let users set an automatic end to Do Not Disturb modes based on reaching a certain time, entering a particular location, or taking a certain action. The new Bedtime mode dims the display and keeps notifications from disrupting the user's sleep until the morning.

The Screen Time app enables a quick look at device usage. Daily and weekly reports will track notifications, indicate the time spent in individual apps, and even note how often users are picking up their devices. Parents might use this feature to track and set limits on how much their children are using certain devices or applications.

iOS 12 will have a new bag of tricks for both Siri and AR applications. Users and developers alike should be able to customize voice commands for Siri, letting the assistant accomplish more complex and valuable tasks. Meanwhile, Apple worked with Pixar to develop a new open file format, USDZ, that could make it easier for a broader range of applications to integrate AR functionality. The upcoming ARKit 2 should provide developers with tools for object detection, image tracking, and creating shared AR experiences.

Apple is also expanding its Animoji with new personalized "Memoji" characters that users can endlessly customize. Those who prefer to communicate with their own face instead of cartoon versions of it might appreciate the introduction of group calls to FaceTime. People can be added to calls at any time using either video or audio, and the software will automatically adjust the prominence of each person's face depending on the flow of conversation.

As usual with any new version of iOS, there are a large number of other additions and tweaks. The photo albums interface will offer new sharing suggestions and tools for searching back through a large album. New security tools in Safari will limit how much system information is shared when users browse the web, and help users construct better passwords when creating online accounts.

All things considered, users of Apple phones and tablets are likely to find something they like in the upcoming iOS 12, even if it's just snappier operation on an older device. Apple hasn't put an exact date on the operating system's release date, though it plans to release iOS 12 this fall.

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