Apple Reveals iOS 12 With Digital Health Features, Group FaceTime, Memoji, and More
As expected, Apple today revealed a multitude of features coming to iOS 12 that will improve the user's digital health and "help you limit distractions." These features will be built into iOS 12 and feed back into a new area of the Settings app called "Screen Time," found under Do Not Disturb.
Beginning with a new Do Not Disturb during Bedtime feature, you'll now be able to "get a better night's sleep" by dimming the iPhone display and hiding all notifications until prompted in the morning. When enacted, DnD during Bedtime enhances the time and date to act as more of a bedside alarm clock as well.
In an effort to reduce interruptions, iOS 12 will give you more options for controlling how notifications are delivered as well. You can instantly manage notifications so they can be turned off completely or set them to be delivered directly to the Notification Center, bypassing the lock screen.
Over time, Siri will "intelligently make suggestions" to alter notifications based on your interactivity with these new granular controls and by judging how long it's been since you've opened or used an app. Notably, iOS 12 also introduces Grouped Notifications to iPhones and iPads, which Apple says will "make it easier to view and manage multiple notifications at once."
In the new Screen Time settings, you will find a detailed daily and weekly Activity Report that breaks down device usage across categories of apps, how many notifications you receive, how often you pick up your device, and more. With App Limits, you can set a specific amount of time to be in an app, and a notification will warn you when time's almost up.
Screen Time is built for both individual users and families, allowing parents to see their kid's Activity Reports right from their own iOS device. Other parental controls include features like Downtime, to set a block of time to limit a child's iOS device usage, and the ability to choose specific apps that can be used during Downtime, like Books or Phone.
"In iOS 12, we're offering our users detailed information and tools to help them better understand and control the time they spend with apps and websites, how often they pick up their iPhone or iPad during the day and how they receive notifications," said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. "We first introduced parental controls for iPhone in 2008, and our team has worked thoughtfully over the years to add features to help parents manage their children’s content. With Screen Time, these new tools are empowering users who want help managing their device time, and balancing the many things that are important to them."
Shifting from digital health features to a few augmented reality-focused updates, iOS 12 is updating Animoji with numerous overhauls this year. The big new addition is "Memoji" for iPhone X, where you can build your own personal Animoji character to look just like you and add in fun accessories like glasses and hats. Then, the Memoji can be used like normal Animoji in Messages, but also as a filter in FaceTime and video Messages.
The existing set of Animoji is also expanding with Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex, and all Animoji and Memoji characters now feature winks and "tongue detection" so that they can capture even more of your facial expressions.
iOS 12's augmented reality features will be powered by the new "ARKit 2," enabling shared experiences, persistent AR experiences tied to a specific location, object detection and image tracking, and more that will make AR apps "even more dynamic." Apple worked with Pixar to create a new open file format, USDZ, so that it's easy to experience AR "nearly anywhere in iOS," ranging from apps like Messages to Safari, Mail, Files, News, and more.
Then there's Group FaceTime, which will enable audio and video chats with multiple people (up to 32) at the same time. Apple explains that participants can be added at any time, join later if the chat is still active, and choose to join using video or just audio from an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch (for audio).
In other new app news, there's "Siri Shortcuts" which aims to help users build fully customizable workflows from third-party apps. In the app, you'll be able to customize Shortcuts by building a voice command that initiates the task, or use the UI of the app to simply tap your personal Shortcuts and begin the series of actions you have created.
In Photos, Apple is making the app a bit more akin to Apple Music and Apple News with a "For You" tab that surfaces favorite moments in one place. A new sharing suggestions feature will make it easier to send photos and videos to friends, and iOS 12 will prompt friends who receive photos to share back any of their own that they took from the same trip or event. Otherwise, there's also improved search so you can combine multiple terms "to find just the right photos."
In general, Apple says that iOS 12 is "faster and more responsive" and has been designed to make everyday tasks much more streamlined. According to the company, the Camera launches up to 70 percent faster, the keyboard appears up to 50 percent faster and typing is more responsive, and apps launch up to twice as fast.
The company also promises that enhanced privacy and security "remain a top priority in iOS 12." For Safari, this means that Intelligent Tracking Prevention will block social media "Like" or "Share" buttons and comment widgets from tracking you without permission. The app will also automatically create, autofill, and store strong passwords when users create new online accounts and flags reused passwords to point out when you should be a bit more secure.
Below you'll find a list of a few other features coming to apps like Books, News, Wallet, and more in iOS 12:
- Apple Books is redesigned to make it easier to discover and enjoy books and audiobooks, and the Book Store tab makes it easy to explore new titles and browse the top charts, curated collections and special offers.
- Apple News is redesigned to make it easier to discover new channels and topics or jump straight to favorites, and on iPad, a new sidebar makes navigation even simpler.
- Stocks comes to iPad and illustrates how the market is moving with easy-to-understand quotes and high-quality news (pulled from Apple News).
- CarPlay adds support for third-party navigation apps displayed right on the car’s dash — joining music, messaging, calling and automaker apps.
- Voice Memos is now available on iPad and adds iCloud support to sync recordings and edits across devices. A new design makes it easier to capture, share and edit recordings.
- Siri translation expands to more than 40 language pairs and brings more knowledge of sports, celebrities, food and nutrition. Siri can also surface favorite photos by person, place, event, time and topic.
- Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch adds support for student ID cards, making it more convenient to access everything on campus.
Apple says that iOS 12 will be available this fall as a free software update for the iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and 6th generation, iPad mini 2 and later, and iPod touch 6th generation.