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iOS 12 release date, news and features

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New iOS 12 features have been revealed thanks to the beta, and it's all changing up your iPhone and iPad for the better, according to Apple at WWDC 2018 keynote.

You can get the iOS 12 developer beta now (as we'll explain below), wait for a likely public beta at the end of the month, or get the final version with new 2018 iPhones.

Apple unveiled a host of features on the keynote stage, but there are actually more changes coming to your iPhone and iPad than it officially mentioned on Monday. 

No, it's isn't the biggest software update, but it's obvious Apple is making its mobile operating system to make it both reliable and competitive with Google's Android P

Here are all of the iOS 12 features, now that the update is confirmed.

iOS 12 release date

  • June 4 for iOS 12 developer beta (for paid Apple Developers)
  • Likely June 26 for a public beta (based on iOS 11 public beta)
  • Likely September for the final iOS 12 software with new iPhones

You'll be able to test it early, as there will likely be three iOS 12 release dates: one for developers, one for public beta testers, and one final version for everyone else.

The first developer beta is available now. But it's early software and you must be a registered Apple developer. That costs money: $99 for the annual membership.

The iOS 12 public beta typically launches after iOS 12 developer beta 3, and if Apple's history tells us anything, it should be on or around June 26. This beta is free and less problematic, with a few more weeks in the cooker.

Both versions of the iOS 12 beta will be unfinished software, so we advise you to proceed with caution before deciding to install iOS 12 developer beta 1 on your primary device. Waiting for the public beta is a safer choice.

Everyone else can wait for the final version of iOS 12, which is also free. The release date for that should be in September, alongside new iPhones for 2018. That's how it seems to work every year.

iOS 12 reliability

  • Apple's looking to put the problematic iOS 11 behind it
  • Older iPhones will be 40% to 70% faster at certain tasks

iOS 12 will focus on reliability and performance with this update, and support all of the same iPhones and iPads that iOS 11 worked with.

Apple called out the iPhone 6 Plus, saying iOS 12 makes this phone 40% faster at launching apps, 70% faster at launching the camera app, and 50% faster at displaying the keyboard. Keyboard typing and other routine features on older iPhones can slow down with every new iOS update, and Apple is looking to change these pain points with iOS 12.

iOS 12 is 200% less annoying on iPhone X

Here are two irksome features we hated about iOS 11 on the iPhone X that iOS 12 is going to fix. The final software is going to feel 200% less annoying when it launches.

Closing app windows in iOS 12 is now easier thanks to the fact that all you have to to is slide up on an open app to dismiss it. iOS 11 had us press down on the app until red close icons appeared and then to tap those icons to dismiss the app.

Second, whenever we picked up our phone, we'd always pressed the volume up and power button, which is the new 'take a screenshot' button combination. Apple has disabled this action whenever the phone screen is off. Our iOS 12 Photos app is no longer going to be filled with errant screenshots on the daily.

iOS 12 compatibility

  • Compatible with iPhone 5S, iPad mini2 and iPad Air and newer
  • 11 iPhones, 10 iPads, 1 iPod touch – the broadest iOS update yet 

iOS 12 will run on all devices that have its 64-bit chipset, which was first introduced in 2013. It'll work on the iPhone 5S and newer, while the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 are the oldest iPads that are compatible with iOS 12. 

That's means this update is supporting 11 different iPhones, 10 different iPads and the sole iPod touch 6th generation still clinging to life. It’s the broadest support for a software update Apple has ever offered, and this is one of the biggest advantages Apple has over Android phones.

ARKit 2 and multiplayer gaming

  • ARKit 2 allows for 'shared experiences' (multiplayer potential)
  • LEGO, Fender, Adobe and Pixar are all working on AR with Apple

iOS 12 cements Apple as a leader in augmented reality (AR) with the arrival of groundbreaking multiplayer capabilities it calls Shared Experiences in ARKit 2.

These multi-user virtual environments are coming to ARKit, allowing for multiplayer gaming and experiences through iPhones and iPads. iOS 12 is going to create a more collaborative (and competitive) way of experiencing AR. 

LEGO demoed a four-player game, pledging that it was in when it came to Apple's “creative play possibilities.” Players were involved in building up an AR town. It was like The Sims was reimagined for the future.

ARKit 2 opens up AR to hundreds of millions of users, according to Apple, and that makes iOS 12 the broadest AR platform in the world. We got a taste of AR last year, but multi-user virtual environments bring more advanced tools and gameplay.

New 'Measure' app and USDZ file format

  • New USDZ file type dedicated at augmented reality
  • Measure app for iOS 12 to replace your measuring tape

'Measure' is getting its own AR app. It uses the iPhone's and iPad's advanced sensors to measure objects in front of you, including suitcases, as shown in the first iOS 12 demo. All it takes it just tap-and-drag along the edges of the object on the screen. 

It can also automatically detect the approximate dimensions of a photo – we can imagine that will help when you go to buy a photo frame, but can't find the old-fashioned tape measure. iOS 12 to the rescue.

For AR developers, Apple has created a new file type called 'USDZ.' The company worked on USDZ with Pixar, and Adobe is supporting it, too. The file format can be shared across FIles, Mail, Messages and Safari. This is an important step forward for developers working on AR apps.

Camera app changes

Apple didn't announce big camera changes at its WWDC 2018 keynote, but later said that the default camera app will get tweaked with iOS 12.

The Portrait Lighting mode on newer iPhones with a dual-lens camera will look more natural. The software will be able to define crisper edges by more effectively separating a person from a background scene. Apple is also allowing third-party apps to use the software to separate the foreground and background.

It'll be the end of an era for our how to scan a QR code from your iPhone and iPad guide. The default camera in iOS 12 makes QR code reading automatic.

And while not part of the camera app, RAW photos can be imported and managed on an iPhone and iPad, with the bonus ability of editing RAW photos on an iPad Pro.

Photos app is now smarter with iOS 12

  • Betters search and a new 'For you' tab
  • Suggestions on who to share photo collections with
  • Share back suggestions nudge friends to send their photos

The Photos app is expanding search in an effort to compete with Google Photos. It recognizes photos by event and indexes them accordingly. Apple says it takes into account over four million events, citing the Aspen Ideas Festival as a niche example. 

This lets you search by event without any thankless manual tagging. Searching by event joins other smart suggestions, including filtering by people, places, and relative dates (searching via Siri works with all of these and is quiet handy). 

The iOS 12 Photos search capabilities have also been broadened to let you use multiple search terms at once. Seeking "dog, animal" should weed out all of your gourmet hotdog results (this is a real problem we just tested on iOS 11).

A new tab 'For you' is coming to the iOS 12 Photos app, filled with personalized suggestions on how to improve and share your pictures. Sharing has gotten smarter, letting you share at full-resolution and suggesting who to share these photos with.

Share back suggestions is a neat feature that lets you send photos to a friend, and it uses machine learning to poke them to send photos they took to you. iOS 12’s photos sharing uses iMessage's end-to-end encryption.

iPad switches to iPhone-like gestures

It's confusing owning both an iPad and a new iPhone X right now because returning to the home screen and opening Control Center are executed by different gestures.

The iPad takes cues from the iPhone X with the iOS 12 update: swipe up from the bottom to return home and check Control Center by pulling down from the top right-hand corner.

This may be a prelude to the iPad Pro 2018 that's rumored to include Apple's True Depth camera for Face ID, Animoji and Memoji.

Siri Shortcuts can find your lost keys, more

  • Siri Shortcuts allows you to assign phrases to tasks
  • 'I lost my keys' can ring your Tile tracker to find keys
  • 'Heading home' sends ETA notification to roommate, sets thermostat and fan, and brings up the fastest route through Apple Maps
  • Gallery and library full of pre-configured Siri Shortcuts

Siri is getting smarter. It‘ll know that “I lost my keys” means to ring your Tile tracker. Tile is a handy gadget, but getting to the app is a pain, and having Siri integrated is a game-changer for both Tile and our peace of mind.

Siri is going to be filled with shortcuts, so much so that Apple is creating a shortcuts app for iOS 12. It’ll suggest coffee orders from the place you always order from and message contacts to tell them you're running late, and there's also Kayak-based flight information you can call up via voice. By pressing the add to Siri button, you can then say “Travel plans” and Siri will read back information such as your hotel address.

Siri translates new languages, learns motorsport scores

  • Siri can now translate over 40 language pairs
  • Motorsports scores, schedules and stats knowledge
  • Food and celebrity facts knowledge expanded upon
  • Password search not part of Siri's duties in iOS 12

Try asking Siri to translate something into Spanish. It works, and with iOS 12 it'll be even more robust with over 40 language pairs to aid your international travels.

We really hope Siri will be able to translate foreign words into English (that's not possible with iOS 11 at this time when asking Siri what 'hola' means in English).

Siri will also learn the language or motorsports, per se. Asking for Formula One and NASCAR information will have Siri recite live standings, schedule, roster and stat info.

Food knowledge and celebrity facts are also part the Siri update. Right now, asking "How healthy is fish" gives a smatter of search results and requires opening up Siri. In the future, a specific answers about food will come from the USDA database, citing calories, vitamins, and how healthy the food is overall.

Password hunting is now within Siri's grasp, letting you search any saved passwords, according to Apple. We hope this applies to both apps and websites.

Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos and CarPlay

  • Apple News: new Browse tab and sidebar navigation
  • Stocks: robust chart design and stock news integration
  • Voice memos: easier menus, iCloud support, on iPad (finally)
  • CarPlay: third-party app support, like Google News and Waze

Apps are indeed getting updates with iOS 12, starting with Apple News. There’s a new Browse tab and a sidebar for better navigation. Stocks is finally being rebuilt with a helpful news design, complete with charts and Apple news headline integrated into into stocks. The top stories will be business news curated by Apple News editors.

Voice Memos is coming to iPad (as well as macOS), and it’ll get iCloud support, long overdue changes. Now you won't have to AirDrop conversations between devices in order to listen back. It'll also be easier to assign names to voice clips thanks to an overhauled Voice Memos redesign.

Apple Books is the new name for iBooks, allowing you to pick up reading where you left off and a new store interface to browse buy ebooks and audio books.

CarPlay is going to support third-party applications, with Waze and Google Maps appearing on-screen. Apple didn’t call out the Google-owned apps by name, but they were there on the screen. This was a major highlight of iOS 12.

Using your iPhone less

  • Do Not Disturb during bedtime to hide visual display of notifications
  • Instant tuning to send future notifications silently or turn them off
  • Reports give a weekly activity summary on how you use iOS 12
  • Breakdown: ranks app usage, highest phone pick up times (and what app draws you in first), and apps that send you the most notifications
  • Set self-imposed time limits via reminders and temporary app blocking
  • Limit kids time in apps by category or individual apps via Family Sharing

Apple is expanding its Do Not Disturb capabilities with a cleaner 'Do Not Disturb During Bedtime' mode. It'll silence not just the notification delivery sounds, but also the visual notifications clutter that can distract you when you're trying to sleep. 

The lockscreen remains clear until you unlock your iPhone in the morning. You can allow certain apps to break through, just like with DND mode right now. Apple refers to these as critical alerts, and they're opt-in.

Do Not Disturb options aren't one-size-fits all, either. It can now automatically end in an hour, at the end of the day, when you leave a certain location, or at the end of a meeting in your calendar. We really hope that iOS 12 makes the DND moon icon in Control Center have 3D Touch support to act as a shortcut to all of these options.

Instant Tuning is an iOS 12 feature you'll love if you've ever gotten a notification from an app you always seem to dismiss (HQ trivia, breaking news alerts, etc), but don't have time to turn off future notifications in the many submenus of Settings. Apple is allowing you to control individual app notification profiles right from the lockscreen, without making you leave what you're doing.

Deliver Quietly is an option within Instant Tuning, and it'll allow you to choose to have notifications delivered silently Notification Center by default so you’re not interrupted by alerts on the lockscreen. It's a nice in between option.

Siri can help clean up your messy lockscreen with notification delivery suggestions based on how you interact with notifications. Siri will understand which notifications it should deliver prominently and which ones to send to Notification Center. It's like IOS 12's version of 'clean up your desktop' system nudges.

Screen time is Apple's take on limiting your iPhone use – how much time you're spending on apps, which apps you use the most, and which apps are sending you the most notifications. 

To give you a little extra help, Apple has created app limits. You can set your own limit, with a notification letting you know when time is almost up. A 'Time is up' message will display when you've reached your self-imposed-Siri-assisted limit.

Parents can create limits for kids with Allowances, time-of-day-based downtime controls, and category controls. Education and essential message apps can also be green lit thanks to an always-allowed settings. 

The best part? Setting limits for your kids uses Family Sharing, so you can manage it all remotely from your parental device – no need to get hold of your 12-year-old kid's phone to execute on these new iOS 12 controls.

iOS 12 grouped notifications

  • Grouped notification on iOS 12 to clean up individual notifications mess
  • Smartly grouped by app, topic, thread. Tap in to look at a particular group
  • Can clear a whole group of notifications with a single swipe

Grouped notifications are coming to iOS 12. This is a small, but important update (maybe the most important iOS 12 update) announced at the Apple WWDC keynote. 

It binds together notifications by message threads and topics, making it easier to see everything at a glance. Right now, individual notifications in the morning are a big pain to check as they pile up.

Animoji changes and new Memoji

  • Tongue and wink detection for iOS 12 Animoji
  • Four new Animoji masks: Ghost, Koala, Tiger and T-Rex
  • Personalized 'Memoji' to look like you or 'the real you'
  • Animoji and Memoji clips last 30 seconds (up to 10 seconds)

Animoji is expanded, not just with new masks, but with tongue detection (as seen on stage) and wink detection (not announced, but confirmed for iOS 12 afterward). Ghost Koala, Tiger and T-Rex will be joining the cast of Animoji masks.

Memoji is a thing, too. It's a customizable mask that can look like you – or the real you, according to Apple. It still resides in Messages. You can select hairstyles, eye color and accessories like earrings and sunglasses. Like Animoji, this is an iPhone X only feature due to requiring Apple's True Depth front-facing camera.

Group FaceTime

  • Group FaceTime for up to 32 people with dynamic UI
  • Can use Animoji and Memoji in FaceTime

Group FaceTime is coming to iOS 12 with up to 32 participants, and you go directly from a group chat to a group FaceTime in the Messages app.

People can drop in and drop out at any time. The interface is filled with tiles that can expand, and 'the roster' along the bottom for everyone else in the Group FaceTime chat. When people start to speak, their window gets bigger, even if they're in the bottom roster of participants. It works on iPhone, iPad and Mac, and you can even answer on the Apple Watch and HomePod with just audio.

Animoji is coming to FaceTime and Group FaceTime. You'll of course need to update to iOS 12 and an iPhone X to make that magic happen.

That's a wrap for new iOS 12 features at Apple's WWDC. The two biggest highlights were Grouped notifications and Group FaceTime with Memoji. We'll test out the iOS 12 beta and report back when it becomes available to the public.

Thinking of buying the iPhone X? Watch our overview video below.

Previous reporting…

Apple's iOS 12 update for your existing iPhone and iPad will be announced today at 10am PT at the company's WWDC 2018 keynote. We're here reporting on it live.

You'll be able to test it early, too, as there will likely be three iOS 12 release dates: one for developers, one for beta testers, and one final version for everyone else.

None of this should surprise you by now. Apple launches its software updates at the same time every year. It'll run through all the iOS 12 changes in about 24 minutes, according to past Apple keynote history.

What should surprise you are the features. iOS 12 has become a big mystery, with Apple reportedly pulling back front-facing features in order to fix iOS 11 problems.

Don't worry, you can still anticipate at least some groundbreaking ideas and design adjustments due to the launch of iPhone X last year and theoretical iPhone X2 and iPhone 9 release date later in 2018.

Apple has a chance to make meaningful changes as it adapts to all-screen displays. Here's our list of what we expect from iOS 12, according to rumors and leaks.

Cut to the chase

  • What is iOS 12? Apple's next big iPhone and iPad software update 
  • When is the iOS 12 release date? Announcement next week, June 4 with a subsequent beta,  September launch 
  • How much will iOS 12 cost? Nothing. iOS 12 will remain free.

iOS 12 release date and beta schedule

iOS 12 to fix what was wrong with iOS 11

"iOS 12 just works," may be Apple's big message about its next iPhone update, as it's reportedly focusing on reliability and shelving many exciting features.

It's okay to be torn about this news if you were looking forward to iOS 12 with a fresh face. Then again, it's hard to argue with experiencing fewer bug-filled random resets on your iPhone.

Apple's iOS 12 plans are going to be a godsend if you've been experiencing issues with iOS 11 – even the iOS 11.4 update has new, ongoing problems. It's been bad PR for Apple.

Which features won't be in iOS 12?

Apple was reportedly planned, but delayed:

  • A home screen redesign
  • Refreshed camera app
  • Updated Mail app
  • Refined Photos app

Those may have to wait until iOS 13, if you are to believe the rumors about the Apple teams new mission. It's all in an effort to make iOS 12 stabilization impeccable.

iOS 12 and macOS cross-platform apps

Apple is thought to be bringing first and third-party iOS apps to your Mac, making one of the biggest iOS 12 features for your computer instead of your phone.

It's a long-overdue upgrade. We've always asked: Why can't you control your smart home with the Home app via that all-powerful iMac Pro? You can't do it today. It's a ridiculous notion.

Apple is rumored to be allowing developers to expand their app ecosystem to the forthcoming macOS 10.14 update. Apple's own apps, like Home, are also said to be finally making the jump, according to recent reports.

Don't get too excited. This feature may also be saved for iOS 13 and macOS 11.5 in 2019, says a new report. It's supposedly being worked on, but how quickly it comes to the table may leaving you waiting for a while.

We're giving this one a good shot at being at WWDC on our speculation scale – we're at least expecting Apple to lay the groundwork for such a feature in 2018.

More Animoji (in more places)

Animoji – whether you demanded it or vehemently opposed it, Apple is due to bring more Animoji to iOS 12 for use with the iPhone X Face ID camera. iOS 11.3 just gave us four new Animoji faces to play with, but why stop there?

The navigation of these animated character masks should get easier, too, according to Bloomberg. That's important, because to get better use, they need to break out of their Apple Messages confines, where Animoji are currently buried.

Apple's Animoji character may make two jumps in 2018. First, the natural jump to FaceTime for video chats behind a virtual panda, robot, and poop mask. 

Second to what may be a new iPad Pro 2018 with a TrueDepth camera for Face ID and Animoji. We've seen evidence of an updated iPad recently, beyond the cheap new iPad 2018. But we don't foresee new iPad Pros until later this year.

Way better autocorrect

Maybe we could have lumped this iOS 12 change under fixes, but it deserves its own mention. Everyone wants better autocorrect from the built-in iOS keyboard.

Currently, it can be downright terrible. Why? It may be due to Apple's commendable stance on privacy, with all of the smarts happening on the device itself or masked so that individuals aren't identifiable.

Apple says it's not mining your data like you may find on some Android phones. But we also want a smarter keyboard that doesn't autocap and autocorrect randomly. 

iOS 12 is Apple's perfect opportunity to balance differential privacy with our typings needs. With the focus on reliability this should be near the very top of the list.

Flexible Face ID

Face ID isn't better than Touch ID. There. We said it. It's a neat party trick and makes the iPhone X feel like it's from the future, but we're typing our passcode multiple times a day whenever Face ID fails. That's unacceptable. 

iOS 12 will fix Face ID so that it works when your device in landscape orientation, rather than only in portrait, according to Macotakara's supply chain source. This change should go a long way to fixing our biggest Face ID problems.

We'd also like to see a "try again" button when Face ID fails the first time. Having to put the iPhone X to sleep and wake it up again just to re-engage Face ID is annoying and design nonsense. Apps that use Face ID for passwords, like our banking app, have this "try again" feature. Expect to see this in iOS 12.

The better Face ID is with the iOS 12 update, the sooner we'll forget that we miss the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that's likely to have had its last hurrah in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

More iOS 12 features we want to see

While nothing is known for sure about iOS 12 yet we have a clear idea of some of the things we want to see, such as the following.

System-wide password manager

We'd also like to see a system-wide password manager built into iOS 12, not just username and password saving in Safari. That's not helpful if you apps on iOS.

With Face Unlock and Touch ID securing our phones, there's little fear in relying on a password manager on mobile devices. And remembering passwords to so many different apps seems like a wasteful second layer of security.

Always-on display hints?

Look out for tiny always-on display hints in iOS 12, as Apple could easily squeeze this useful feature into the iPhone X2 OLED screen in September. The software may have hidden hooks for an always-on screen in the iOS 12 beta code. 

OLED essentially 'turns off' black parts of the screen in an effort not display the bare minimum without eating up battery life. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Google Pixel 2 and even the rumored LG G7 have shown off this idea to great effect.

Apple does have a raise-to-wake feature that's been a big hit among new iPhones. But a true always-on display would help differentiate the iPhone X2 OLED from the rumored iPhone 9 LCD.

New iOS 12 wallpaper

Every new version of iOS seems to get new wallpaper, and we expect iOS 12 to be no different in 2018. It should allow Apple to further exhibit its iPhone X OLED screen.

Specifically, we could see more dynamic wallpapers from Apple. iOS 12 needs more moving backgrounds besides a bunch of moving bubbles in various colors. 

New iOS 12 concept videos show the iconic Earth wallpaper spinning, for example. Right now, that's a flat image, and that doesn't put OLEDs to full use at all.

Grouped notifications

iOS 12 may finally bring a fix to having so many notifications in chronological order. Every morning, our iPhone is littered with so many ungrouped alerts.

Grouping notifications together would make life easier, as long as it's not differently than what we had in iOS 9 with lots of spacing between important alerts. Android Oreo does this nicely, and iOS 12 could easily lift this feature.

We've seen iOS 12 concepts include grouped notifications and also small notification icons on the lockscreen for things like weather and activity ring progress. That would take up less space and provide data at a glance right under the time and date.

Group FaceTime

Speaking of grouped things, we're keen on opening up the FaceTime party to more than just 1:1 chats. iOS 12 should welcome group FaceTime to iPhones and iPads.

We’ve had 1:1 video chats long enough 

Conference call software, from Hangouts to Skype, can already do this, so it's natural to expect Apple to open up FaceTime to groups eventually. iOS 12 may be it. 

Sound familiar? This was supposed to already be a feature in the current version of iOS, but it didn't actually happen last year. Either that rumor was wrong or was shelved until iOS 12. We'll find out more in June.

Camera controls in the camera app

File this under: Why is this still a problem? Apple's camera app is very barebones compared to its competitions, to the point that you can't change video resolutions within the camera app. It has to be done through Settings > Photo & Camera > Record Video. All of this requires exiting the camera app. That's very unhelpful.

We'd also like to see other settings become easier to use. Android phones do a good job at letting you switch between the rear- and front-facing camera with a swipe up or down on the screen, and the white Timer numbers (3s, 10s) can be hard to see in landscape mode when you're focusing on a subject that's white.

While some app redesigned have been shelved for iOS 13, we're hoping these small tweaks make it into the iOS 12 beta this month.

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