Apple Announces iOS 12 With Memoji, Group FaceTime, ARKit 2.0 And Siri Shortcuts

apple tim cook wwdc
Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off today, which means that the main topic of discussion are updates to the company’s software platforms. Given that iOS is Apple's biggest platform for developers, it was the first to be discussed today, with Craig Federighi leading the charge.

iOS 12 is doubling down on performance, working top to bottom to make your machine faster and more productive. It supports all the same devices as iOS 11, which means that even your "old" iPhone 5s is supported. In normal situations, app launches are 40 percent faster, the keyboard pops up 50 percent faster, and opening the camera happens up to 70 percent faster than before. Thanks to optimizations when your device is under heavy load, the share sheet and app launches occur up to twice as fast.

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Augmented Reality (AR) is a big focus of iOS 12, expanding on ARKit that was first introduced with iOS 11. Working in conjunction with Pixar, Apple has developed USDZ, which is a new file format for AR content. It is optimized for sharing and is an open file format that combines all assets into a single, compact file.

Apple is including a new AR measurement tool, which takes the form of the Measure app. It allows you to measure objects in real-time (including measuring in 3D). Of course, AR apps like these have been available in the App Store, but this is built-in to Apple's growing catalog of preinstalled apps.

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ARKit has been bumped up to version 2.0, after hitting version 1.5 back in March. One of the big additions is Shared experiences which allows two or more people to occupy a scene, sharing assets for gaming and other activities. Each person will be able to view content from their own perspective.

The Photos app has improved search and includes suggestions. You can search for concerts, sporting events, or even places you've visited. A new "For You" tab will include Featured Photos and Effect Suggestions to improve your existing photos. Sharing Suggestions have also been added, which allows you to send photos to people that you have attended events with. Sharing takes place using iMessage and are end-to-end encrypted. For the most part, it appears that Photos is simply catching up to functionality that has been available in Google Photos for quite some time.

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Siri has been enhanced with "Shortcuts", which allows an app to share quick actions with Siri. Federighi used the example of "Siri, I lost my keys" which will then in turn activate Tile to pinpoint the exact location of your keys. There's a new Shortcuts app, which allows you to create your shortcuts using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Apple has also made some updates to the Apple News and Stocks apps. The latter has received a complete makeover and features curated news for your stock picks from... Apple News, of course. The Stocks app is also making its way to the iPad in iOS 12, which amazingly has not had the app for the past eight years. Voice memos gets an upgrade, and again, iPad support. iBooks has been renamed to Apple Books and has been completely redesigned for both the iPhone and the iPad.

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CarPlay will support third-party navigation apps including Google Maps and Waze. This is a BIG deal for those that are unimpressed with the built-in Apple Maps app.

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New features have also been implemented to help you limit the time you spend on your device. Do Not Disturb (during bedtime) helps prevent you from being sucked into notification hell when you wake up in the middle of the night. Instead of blasting you with all of the notifications that arrived while you will asleep, your phone will instead encourage you go back to school.

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Grouped notification are finally available in iOS, which helps streamline your lock screen. Finally, Screen Time gives you a weekly overview of how you spend time on your iPhone during the day and during the night. It even shows you how often you pick up your phone, or what apps are sending you the most notifications. You can set app limits, which will help you reduce how much time you're spending in a particular app. This extends to the whole family, as parents can setup app limits for children and get reports on their activity. All of these features work across your iPad and iPhone.

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Animoji have been updated to include... uh... tongue detection. There are also four new Animoji including a Ghost, Koala, Tiger and a T-Rex.  Apple has also introduced Memoji, which lets you create your own likeness.

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Finally, there's Group FaceTime, which can be now be conducted with up 32 people simultaneously. FaceTime is now integrated with Messages, making it easy to transition from texting to a Group FaceTime session. When someone speaks, their tile automatically comes front and center. You can also double tap a tile to manually make someone bigger.

Tags:  iPhone, ipad, ios 12