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iOS 12: The best features coming to your iPhone in the next major update

As the launch of Apple’s iOS 12 draws near, there’s plenty for iPhone and iPad users to get excited about.

It was at the software-focused WWDC in June that the company announced the latest version of its mobile operating system alongside macOS Mojave. There hasn’t been any official word on when it will be released, but history suggests both will be launched at Apple’s September event, which Apple Insider predicts will be held on Wednesday, September 12.

There are plenty of fancy bells and whistles coming to iPhones and iPads with iOS 12 – improved performance, 32-person FaceTime support and customisable Memojis to name a few – but a handful of subtle everyday features have us itching for the update to go live.

Stackable notifications

Hallelujah! Apple is finally addressing one of my pet hates about iOS: overwhelming notifications. Currently, a handful of notifications from your favourite apps can quickly clog up the lock screen… which isn’t helped by everyone having at least one friend who hits “send” at the end of every sentence, resulting in five separate texts – and five notifications – for a message which could have been sent in one go.

iOS 12 provides some much-needed relief by allowing you to group notifications from the same app under one banner. These stacks free up valuable real estate, giving you access to even more information from your device when the display is locked. Plus, you can expand, clear and mute grouped notifications with one interaction from the lock screen, which makes the device exponentially more efficient.

Demonstration of iOS 12 notification features

But that’s not all Apple is introducing to help you control notifications. You can also set an app to “Quiet”, which will silently send notifications from the specified app straight to the Notification Centre without displaying them on the lock screen. iOS already has options to customise notifications for each app, but Quiet mode simplifies the process and can be controlled from the lock screen.

iOS 12 also brings suggestions from Siri, based on the way you interact with your notifications – whether it be to prioritise notifications from your favourite apps or quietly direct the ones you ignore to the Notification Centre.

Temprary Do Not Disturb

If you’re like me and rarely use Do Not Disturb, you might find this will change with iOS 12. At the moment, Do Not Disturb is pretty basic: you can turn it on indefinitely, schedule it for a regular period every day (while you sleep, for example) and make a small handful of other minor adjustments. I tend to forget I have it on, which is why I typically avoid using it on a frequent basis.

iOS 12 makes it easier to use Do Not Disturb sporadically throughout the day by allowing you to turn it on for a specific event, location or time period. For example, if you turn on Do Not Disturb for a half-hour meeting at 1:00pm, it will turn itself off at 1:30pm; if set for a location, it will turn off when you leave. You can also choose to enable Do Not Disturb for an hour without manually scheduling it, which is great news for anyone who needs chunks of interruption-free time throughout the day.

iOS 12 Do Not Disturb

Screen Time

It’s clear one of Apple’s major focuses for iOS 12 is giving users more control, which makes the addition of Screen Time a logical move. Screen Time is a new feature that provides you with insights into how much time you spend using your device, complete with a breakdown of the apps and websites you frequent. The data is presented in the Today view and a weekly report, but it can be accessed at any time through the Settings app.

Screenshots of the Screen Time feature coming in iOS 12

It’s an interesting path for Apple to take, and it’ll take some self-discipline for the average user to take advantage of the feature. What I find most intriguing about Screen Time is the added features for families. I’m not a parent, but I’ve been around children enough to understand the struggle of device addiction. Heck, my parents went through the same challenges when I got the Nintendo 64.

Using Apple IDs for each member of the family, parents can use Screen Time to monitor device usage and set time limits on specific apps. For example, you can set a maximum of 30 minutes per day for Pokémon Go and Facebook without restricting access to other apps; if it sounds a little dystopian, remember that it’s designed for parents with young kids, not for adults to creep on each other’s smartphone habits.

iOS 12 Downtime

iOS 12 Downtime notification on iPad

When the time limit is reached on a restricted app, it will lock on the child’s device until the timer resets the following day unless your Apple ID password is entered as an override. The child can also ping your device with a request for more time, which you can grant remotely if need be (don’t worry, they can only make the request once).

Screen Time also comes with Downtime, allowing you to set a blanket ban on device usage when the kids should be in bed, doing homework or anything else that shouldn’t involve a screen – however, exceptions can be made to allow 24/7 access to essential apps. But Downtime isn’t just for kids: you can set restrictions on your own app usage if you’re keen on changing your habits, although it’ll be less effective given you can just ignore it.

Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts is one of the most hotly anticipated features of iOS 12, and for good reason. The feature allows users to automate tasks by setting up custom commands that can be linked with a chosen phrase.

A demonstration at WWDC in June showed Siri Shortcuts interacting with Tile, an app which connects to a Bluetooth tracker to help you find lost items. Using Shortcuts, you can program Siri to access the app and ping the tracker any time you say “Hey Siri, I lost my keys”.

Kimberly Beverett Siri Shortcuts demo.

Kimberly Beverett demos features in Siri Shortcuts, such as ordering a coffee in the morning or making travel plans.

The potential of Siri Shortcuts is mind-blowing, particularly with the rise of smart home devices. Imagine using a single phrase like “Hey Siri, I’m home” to turn on the lights and air conditioner, have the biggest news of the day read out to you, set an alarm for tomorrow morning and perform any number of other commands the moment you walk through the front door.

Even if you’re yet to deck your home out with talking gadgets, we guarantee you’ll never look back after streamlining your iPhone with some simple Siri Shortcuts.

What else is coming in iOS 12?

iOS 12 will bring a whole stack of features to your iPhone and iPad beyond those we’ve touched on here. These changes include:

  • Performance improvements: Apple claims iOS 12 will provide up to 70% faster swipe to camera, up to 50% faster keyboard display and 200% faster app launch under heavy workload.
  • ARKit 2: A new Measure app plus more tools for developers of augmented reality apps, including support for shared AR experiences.
  • FaceTime: Support for 32-person calls.
  • Memoji: A new form of personal, customisable Animoji for various moods.
  • Four new Animoji: Koala, tiger, ghost and T-rex.
  • Camera effects: New in-app filters and more for Messages and FaceTime.
  • Photo library: New ways to share, a ‘For You’ tab and intuitive search suggestions.
  • Privacy improvements: iOS 12 brings “built-in encryption” and “on-device intelligence”, alongside new protections while browsing in Safari.

Check out Apple’s full list of changes to get the whole nine yards, and stay tuned for news on exactly when iOS 12 will be released to iPhones and iPads.

About the author

Andrew is Techly’s Editor. Loves: weird gadgets and the Collingwood Football Club. Hates: olives and cardboard boxes.

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