What's new in iOS 12

Brush up on all the latest changes, tweaks, enhancements, and new features found within iOS 12.


There's one big question that most iPhone users will have when a new version of iOS releases: is the upgrade worth it? It's not like iOS 11 is a slouch, after all, but iOS 12 does have a few specific things going for it that might be of interest for those looking to grab a new iPhone XS or XR, or for anyone who just wants the latest and greatest software. For all those types, we've rounded together some of the biggest highlights and changes they can expect to see within iOS 12.

Increased performance

Performance has been one of the primary focuses of iOS 12. The mobile operating system is always getting constant refinements, and the power afforded to the A12 Bionic processor do allow for quicker movement between apps and more fluid interaction overall, but iOS 12 does have a few specific performance tweaks:

  • Up to 40% faster app launches
  • Up to 70% faster when swiping to Camera
  • Up to 50% faster keyboard display
  • Smoother, more fluid animations

It's worth noting that some of these performance enhancements include footnotes on the Apple website indicating that performance analyses are compared to an iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 11.4. Understandably, these figures correspond to peak performance changes, and not necessarily practical performance changes.

Changes to messaging and notifications

Aside from general usability enhancements, iOS 12 users will likely notice some distinct changes to notifications and messaging. There were a whole bunch of tweaks made to these areas — the Apple website lists 18 separate changes, and that's likely by no means a complete list — but there are a few in particular that iPhone users looking to upgrade to iOS 12 should be made aware of:

  • Memoji - Animojis get new flair to suit "personality and mood"
  • New Animojis - T. Rex, Ghost, Koala, and Tiger join the Animoji lineup
  • Tongue and wink detection for Animoji
  • Longer Animoji - can record clips up to 30 seconds
  • iMessage sticker packs - allow users to jazz up photos and videos inside messages complete with face tracking
  • Grouped notifications - message threads and notification topics are now grouped together
  • Quiet notification delivery - Instant Tuning allows for silent delivery of notifications
  • Messaging Tapback - allows for quick replies with expressions or emojis by long-pressing notifications
  • Critical Alerts - users can opt-in to have some notifications supercede Do Not Disturb settings

Camera and photos

Photography has long been a central focus of iPhone design, and the latest iPhone X line of models are no different. The approach extends beyond hardware into software as well, with new iOS 12 features focused on photo editing, searching, and organization.

  • Improved Portrait Lighting - iOS 12's Camera app now allows for enhanced Portrait Lighting, and a Portrait Segmentation API allows third-party developers to make use of layer separation
  • Improved QR reader - Camera now highlights QR codes in real time directly in the photo frame
  • Photo effects - camera effects, filters, text overlays, and shapes can be added to photos
  • For You tab - creates "a single destination" for the user's memories and Shared Album activity within Photos
  • Places search - iOS 12 users can search through photos based on where they were taken using specific locations or basic key words
  • Event search - photos can additionally be searched by events, either specific or general
  • RAW editing support - allows RAW images to be edited within Photos on devices sporting an A9 or later chip

Siri gets smarter

Apple hasn't given up on Siri, and a few simple additions and tweaks within iOS 12 aim to make the smart assistant more helpful and more effective than ever before.

  • Siri suggestions - Siri now learns from user behavior and can make suggestions for routines, shortcuts, and more
  • Shortcuts app - iPhone users can also create their own shortcuts to run a series of steps — generally referred to as macros — through the Shortcuts app
  • Facts, trivia, and translations - Siri can offer up details about celebrities, sports, translate between over 50 languages, and even provide details about food through the USDA database
  • Smart searching - Siri can perform all of the keyword- and location-based searches to find images through Photos

Extra tweaks and added features

A lot of the new enhancements added to iOS 12 don't fit into the basic categories featured above, but are still worth noting for users thinking about picking up an iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, or just upgrading from iOS 11. Here are some of the extra changes worth looking out for:

  • Group FaceTime - FaceTime now supports up to 32 simultaneous participants
  • FaceTime effects and Animoji - users can now use filters, text effects, shapes, and Animojis or Memojis within FaceTime
  • Screen Time and activity reports - new tools have been added to control or monitor screen time, activity, and set parental controls
  • Do Not Disturb - new iOS 12 Do Not Disturb controls allow users to silence notifications based on time of day, current location, or calendar events
  • Augmented Reality - the power of ARKit now allows for persistent and multiuser experiences, 3D object recognition, face tracking, scene reflection, and more
  • Password sharing and management - iOS 12 allows users to create, autofill, store, and even share passwords when needed
  • More battery information - the battery charts found in Settings can now show usage over 24 hours or 10 full days
  • Additional dictionaries - Arabic and English bilingual, Hindi and English bilingual, and Hebrew dictionaries have been added, as has a new English-language thesaurus
  • App Updates - iOS 12 includes a host of updates to apps like Books, Stocks, News, CarPlay, Safari, Photos, and many more

It's safe to say that there are a lot of new features in iOS 12, and even in the absence of new apps or functions, small tweaks to searches and suggestions will likely result in a smoother and more pleasing iOS experience overall. To stay on top of other iOS 12 features and iPhone-related guides, keep it tuned right here to Shacknews.

Guides Editor

Kevin Tucker is a core component of Shacknews' powerful guide development team. For questions, concerns, tips, or to share constructive criticism, he can be reached on Twitter @dukeofgnar or through e-mail at kevin.tucker@shacknews.com.

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