iOS 11 was perhaps one of Apple’s most buggiest updates ever. So much so that it pushed me to switch from an iPhone to an Android phone. From battery drain issues to autocorrect bugs to a Telugu character crashing the iPhone, iOS users saw it all this past year. To add fuel to the fire, Apple late last year admitted to throttling iPhone performance to prevent older iPhones from shutting down randomly. But with iOS 12, Apple is looking to fix a lot of its mistakes.
At WWDC 2018, Apple announced a few new features and improvements to iOS 12. And while they may not sound ground-breaking, a lot of what makes iOS 12 a worthy upgrade is with regards to performance, speed and reliability. And that’s exactly what the update brings based on my hands on experience with iOS 12 public beta, which is currently available for anyone to download. After spending some time with iOS 12, I can confidently say that this is one of the most stable updates from the company in a long while.
iOS 12 is compatible with any device that is compatible with iOS 11. This means the iPhone X all the way back to the 2013 iPhone 5s will support iOS 12 and users of any of these models are eligible to download the public beta. Similarly, the update will be compatible with the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation all the way back to the iPad Mini 2. To download the public beta version, you must first enroll yourself with the Apple Beta Program using your Apple ID. Now, it’s always urged to download a pre-released beta update on a secondary device as such updates are expected to bring some bugs and issues.
IOS 12 IS A RETURN TO FORM
When Apple announced iOS 12 at WWDC 2018, it opened by saying that iOS 11 saw a 95 per cent customer satisfaction, which sounded pretty strange considering all the issues the update brought with it. The issues got so out of hand that reports earlier in the year suggested that Apple will be taking the year to focus on performance and reliability and that iOS 12 will not be too showy, but will focus on bringing a kind of normalcy back to the mobile software. And this is exactly what Apple announced at its developers conference when it said it was “doubling down on performance” with iOS 12.
Before talking about the new features, I feel it’s important to inform everyone that iOS 12 is an impressive update simply from a performance standpoint. I installed the beta update on the iPhone X, iPhone 7 and iPad Air 2 and found all three devices to run smoothly without a lot of glitches. While the iPhone X is still pretty new and performs smoothly as ever, I noticed a marked improvement in performance on older devices like the iPhone 7. Apple claimed that apps open twice as fast as before and camera opens from the locked screen around 70 per cent faster. While I can’t verify the speed to the dot, I can say that Apple’s claims are true for the most part.
iOS 12 is definitely an update meant to make older iPhones great again. And it comes at a time when Apple planted a seed of distrust following its admonition that it intentionally slowed down older iPhones to protect aging batteries from causing random shutdowns. iOS 12 on the iPhone 7 noticeably improved performance with faster app load times, fewer lags and generally a smoother experience. Everything just feels faster and smoother. I also noticed some improvements to battery life, which is always great to hear when it comes to iOS updates.
iOS 12 is definitely an update meant to make older iPhones great again
For those wondering about how iOS 12 works on even older iPhones, CNET recently performed a comparison between two iPhone 5s models – one with iOS 12 installed and one running iOS 11.4. The tests revealed that apps like Safari, Mail and sliding to open Camera all launched noticeably faster on iOS 12.
IPAD BECOMES MORE LIKE THE IPHONE X
iOS 12 isn’t as much about visual changes as it is about performance, stability and making life just a little bit easier. With iOS 12 on the iPad, not only do you get everything that we just mentioned, but Apple is also hinting at something very specific. Right after installing the update on my iPad Air 2, I couldn’t help but notice how certain changes to the UI seems inspired by the iPhone X. Swiping down from the top right corner brings the Control Center, similar to how it works on the iPhone X.
Similarly, the iPad gets some more navigation gestures inspired by the iPhone X. Swiping up from the bottom of the display will flick away an open app and take you to the home screen, while swiping up and around from the bottom right or left corner switches the app. To get the Dock for multitasking, you will need to swipe and hold for a bit. You will need to swipe up near the middle of the display to bring up the App Switcher.
With iOS 12, Apple is preparing us for the inevitable removal of the Home Button on future iPads
I can’t help but feel Apple is preparing us for the eventual removal of the Home Button-cum-Touch ID with its next set of iPads. During my time with the iPad, I rarely felt the need to use the Home Button what with all the new navigations now added. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that 2018 iPads will be equipped with Face ID and will likely sport slimmer bezels. There’s also the possibility of these iPads sporting an iPhone X-like notch, and the latest iOS 12 is laying the groundwork for that.
MEASURE APP ON IOS 12
Apple over the past couple of years has been pushing a lot for augmented reality. The company announced ARKit last year to allow third-party developers build AR apps by taking advantage of an iOS device’s camera, CPU, GPU and motion sensor. Since then a lot of measurement apps have cropped up, but Apple at WWDC 2018 decided to bring its own measuring app, simply called Measure.
Measure is an app that is based on ARKit that allows you to measure real-world objects and environments. Opening the app launches the viewfinder and provides two tools for measurement – a measure scale and a level scale. The first one lets you measure objects in terms of centimeters and inches while the latter tells you whether an object is on a straight level.
The camera will recognise corners and vibrate the iPhone so that you start measuring from that point. Tapping on the screen or the Plus icon will start the measuring and you can drag it to a another point to measure the length or height of something.
My experience with the Measure app has been a little uneven. When it works, it works pretty well although I won’t say it’s extremely accurate at measuring. However, while testing it, the iPhone started heating within a minute. That being said, I didn’t encounter frequent app crashes and I found it to be a lot more intuitive than the Measure app Google designed for ARCore. The heating issue is a genuine concern and Apple will need to iron that out before the stable iOS 12 update rolls out.
One of the features as part of the “how to keep things clean 101” is Grouped Notifications. Much like Stacks in macOS Mojave, Grouped Notifications essentially brings together notifications of a similar kind and stacks them on on top of the other. So when you turn on the iPhone or the iPad, you’ll see your Messenger notifications stacked together and tapping them will drop the messengers down. Apple sees this as a more convenient way from having to scroll through endless notifications, but I’m not too sure how I feel about this feature.
I like having all my notifications right there at a glance as it helps me quickly reply. But I do appreciate the idea of having notifications grouped together, especially if someone constantly receives notifications from Facebook, Twitter, mails and messages throughout the day. It makes sorting through messages a whole lot easier and it’s easy on you eyes too. The feature on iOS 12 beta didn’t always group notifications and it’s probably a minor bug that should be fixed with the stable update. Additionally, you also get the option to have your notifications delivered quietly to you in the notification center without popping up on your lock screen or making any sound when delivered.
Google and Apple are both of the opinion that we spend too much time on our phones. Both Google’s Digital Wellbeing and Apple’s Screen Time look to provide you with information on how much time you’re spending on your favourite apps, so that you have an idea on whether you’re overdoing it. Screen Time on iOS shows you how much time you have spent on certain apps.
Within Screen Time, you have options like Downtime, which lets you schedule the amount of time you want to spend away from the phone. Once you enter the schedule time frame, you’ll receive a pop up telling you that you’ve reached your limit on an app, say Facebook or Twitter. You can then either close the app or choose to ignore the limit and continue browsing the app. That’s the biggest difference between Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing. Google is pretty strict with its limits as it won’t let you continue using the app unless you go to the dashboard app and manually remove the limit, whereas Apple is giving the user the choice to decide whether they want to quit the app or continue browsing.
Apple’s way is not as rigid compared to Google and I’m okay with that
Apple’s way is not as rigid compared to Google and I’m okay with that. Screen Time is a pretty neat feature and gave me a good summary at the end of the week of how much time I spent on apps and how many times I picked up the iPhone. The latter was quite an eye-opener as well.
Apart from a stunning edge-to-edge design, the iPhone X is also unique because it’s the only iPhone that supports Animoji, which are essentially smileys that reflect your facial movements thanks to the sensors inside the notch on the X. With iOS 12, Apple added another fun new exclusive feature called Memoji, which is basically a 3D avatar of yourself. The sad part is that we can still only access Memoji and Animoji through iMessage. With Memoji, you can create your own avatar by choosing the skin colour, hair, facial features like beard and size of nose and accessories like a cap.
Once created, you can use your Memoji as you would an Animoji and send it to another iPhone X user. Since you have to create your own avatar from scratch, it’s unlikely your Memoji will look anything like you. After a while, the novelty of it fades away and I found myself going back to the good old Animojis.
The most notable new feature here is the ability to use Animoji and Memoji while on a FaceTime video call. That was pretty fun to use and i’m sure that’s going to be a popular feature going forward. Speaking of FaceTime, iOS 12 now allows up to 32 people to join in on a FaceTime call or video. We tried testing this out in beta but it mostly started crashing when adding a third person to the chat.
There are tons of other features on iOS 12 that would really stretch this article beyond its limits, which is why I chose to highlight the most notable of them. I have been quite impressed with the stability and performance that iOS 12 brings to the iPhone, especially on older models and I would definitely recommend installing this on a secondary device to check out all the new features. Apple should release the stable build sometime around September as it has done in the past.