News: 53 Cool New iOS 12 Features You Didn't Know About

53 Cool New iOS 12 Features You Didn't Know About

The next big iOS version for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch was revealed by Apple at WWDC 2018. While they showed off a few new features iOS 12 has to offer, there is much more lurking beneath the surface, some of which is hidden from plain sight. We've rounded up all the big picture items and secrets features and changes we could find so you know exactly what to expect when iOS 12 hits the masses.

Rumors suggested that Apple would focus more on stability improvements for iOS 12 since iOS 11 was such a mess, with numerous bugs, sloppy updates, and promised features that were at least eight months late. And with June 4's keynote, it's obvious that was the case because only a few big features such as group FaceTime video calls, Do Not Disturb additions, and Digital Health tools were announced.

This means Apple is pushing back some of its biggest planned features to the iOS 13 release in 2019. Rumored iOS 12 features now slated for iOS 13 include a redesigned home screen, side-by-side apps, new Apple Pencil features, a mute option for email threads, a better CarPlay app, and a revamped Photos app.

For now, here's everything Apple revealed in iOS 12 for iPhone — a few features actually came from our wish list — as well as all the little things they left out that you can expect everyone to get when its stable release comes out in September 2018. However, note that any of the iOS 12 features listed below could be pushed back to iOS 13 if they're not ready for prime time when iOS 12 comes out in the fall.

Table of Contents

Use these links to jump right to the section you want.

Augmented Reality in iOS 12

1. You Can Measure Real-World Objects

Thanks to Apple's new ARKit 2.0, you can measure real-world objects like tables and desks using the camera on your iPhone. With the new built-in "Measure" app, you can get the dimensions of a 3D object in front of your using augmented reality. It's not 100% accurate right now (the keyboard below is actually about 17 inches) but hopefully, things will get better when it's ready for prime time.

PS: The "Level" previously in the Compass app has been moved to Measure.

2. ARKit 2.0 Makes Augmented Reality Even Better

While there are already some impressive augmented reality apps out there for iPhones, ARKit 2.0 will make them even better with improved face tracking, 3D object detection, and more realistic rendering.

3. You Can Play Multiplayer AR Games

If you're into the whole AR scene, this one might be your favorite feature to look out for. Shared experiences for AR games is baked into ARKit 2.0 so developers can let others play games like Pokémon GO with each other directly.

This makes total sense since games tend to rule the iOS App Store, and multiplayer gameplay is usually a must for them to succeed. While there isn't a large number of AR games in the iOS App Store right now, with this feature ready to go, there likely will be very soon. And this could cause augmented reality games to finally reach mainstream status among their non-AR peers.

Music in iOS 12

4. Find Songs by Lyrics in Music

The Music app got a new reverse-lyrics search option. It's basically like Shazam, but instead of it figuring songs out that are actually playing, it finds them out by the words stuck in your head. Best thing is, you don't need an Apple Music subscription to take advantage of this, though, you will need one to preview any results to see if they are the ones you're looking for.

Notifications in iOS 12

5. You Can Tapback Messages from Notifications

The interactive notifications in iOS let you quickly reply to a text or iMessage, but they haven't really let you do more than that without having to jump to the Messages app itself. Now, Apple is giving us one new feature for these quick reply notifications: Tapback skills. You could only double-tap a message in a thread inside of Messages in order to add a reaction emoji, but now you can double-tap in a expanded notification.

6. Notifications Are Automatically Grouped

While Apple did have a way to group by apps back in iOS 9, they removed it in subsequent updates. Well, now it's back and better than it was before. Now, notifications are grouped using the "Automatic" setting, but you can change that on a per-app basis so that they are "By App" or "Off." You can interact with them individually within the group or triage the whole group at once.

7. You Can Fine Tune Notifications Without Going to Settings

When you're on the lock screen or in the pull-down notifications, when you 3D Touch on a notification or notifications group, you can tap the ellipsis icon (•••) in the top right of the alert to manage notifications for that app. You can also just swipe left and select "Manage" instead. This new feature is called "Instant Tuning."

You can choose to "Deliver Quietly," which means future notifications will not appear on the lock screen, present banners, or make a sound, but they will still show in your notifications center and as a badge app icon. If you set to quiet, you can also go back and choose "Deliver Prominently" to have them back to normal. Choosing "Turn Off" will disable notifications completely. "Settings" will take you that app's notification settings where you can adjust more items.

Siri in iOS 12

8. Siri Will Suggest Shortcuts for You

Siri, on both the lock screen and in the Search pane, will suggest shortcut actions for apps. For example, if you're running late for a scheduled meeting, Siri may suggest that you text the other participants to let them know you'll be a little late. If you missed an important call, Siri may suggest to call them back. If you type in "Photos" in the Search pane, you can get suggestions such as "View Recent Photos" and "View Photos."

You can also go into the "Siri & Search" settings and pick and choose from a few recommended shortcuts based on your current usage. When you add one, you can then type a new phrase for it that you can use with Siri.

9. And You Can Create Your Own Shortcuts

With the new "Shortcuts" app, you'll be able to create your own Siri shortcuts so you can quickly start meditating with your favorite calming app using only an assigned shortcut. The Shortcuts app is only available for developers right now, not public beta testers, but will be available to everyone in September.

10. Siri Can Sound Irish or South African

Another small but exciting change, Siri can be set to a Irish or South African accent, not just American, Australian, and British. This applies for both male and female genders using an American language.

Photos in iOS 12

11. There's a New 'for You' Tab in Photos

Instead of the "Memories" tab, there's now a "For You" tab which houses your Memories. It also contains feature photos, effects suggestions, shared album activity, and sharing suggestions.

12. It's Easier to Search for Photos

When you're searching for a photo in the Photos app, Siri will provide suggestions based on previous searches or because of the current time. According to Apple: "Even before you start typing, you'll see suggestions for recent events, people, and places. And as you type, the results are smarter and more powerful, and you can refine them by adding multiple keywords."

iPhone X in iOS 12

13. Force-Closing Apps Is Just a Swipe Up (iPhone X Only)

If you have an iPhone X, you know what a pain in the ass it is to force-close an app. You had to first access the app switcher, just like you would on other iPhones (though, it's a swipe gesture not a double-click of the Home button), then press-and-hold an app card to bring up the red minus buttons. Then, you'd either tap the red minus buttons or swipe up on the card.

Now, it's just like other iPhone models where you just access the app switcher and swipe up on the card ... no more pressing and holding first! You can even swipe up multiple cards at the same time.

14. You Can Have a Second Face ID Scan (iPhone X Only)

If you wear sunglasses a lot, have a favorite hat that's always on your head, or have a nice collection of wigs, these are the things that can trip up Face ID and cause you to enter your passcode instead. Now, iOS 12, Apple makes it easier to work in these cases by letting you add an "alternative appearance." Best of all, this new look doesn't even have to be you — it could be someone else's face.

15. You Can Swipe Up to Try Face ID Again (iPhone X Only)

Before, after a few failed attempts at trying to scan your face, Face ID would quit and require you to enter in your passcode. Now, in iOS 12, that's still the case, only you can continue to try Face ID again until it works. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen when you see the passcode keys, then try again.

16. More Animoji Are Available (iPhone X Only)

The iOS 11.3 update for iPhone X came with four new Animoji characters in addition to the 12 already available before that. Those four were geared toward international users, and iOS 12 has just released some more globally interesting Animoji. Now there's four more: Ghost, Kuala, Tiger, and T-Rex.

17. Tongue & Wink Detection! (iPhone X Only)

If new Animojis aren't enough for you, you can now rock out with your best Gene Simmons impersonation thanks to Apple's new "tongue detection," which finally adds tongue support to Animojis. There's also "wink detection" for all your blinking needs.

18. There's an Improved Animoji Interface (iPhone X Only)

With new Animojis come a new interface, if you haven't noticed already from some of the screenshots above. Instead of having the vertical selector on the side to choose your Animoji, you can now just swipe left or right. You can also swipe up to expand the menu to see all of them at once.

19. You Can Have Your Own 'Memoji' (iPhone X Only)

New Animojis are always cool, but Apple just went all Bitmoji on us with their version of Snapchat's augmented reality avatars. Apple's version is called "Memoji," and can be completely customized to however you want. Plus, unlike a Snapchat Bitmoji, you can have as many Memojis as you want.

Image via Apple

20. Less Accidental Screenshots (iPhone X Only)

It was way too easy to take a screenshot on the iPhone X by accident. Anytime you grabbed the iPhone, there's a chance you would quickly press the Side and Volume Up buttons together unintentionally, triggering a screenshot. In iOS 12, Apple has made it harder to trigger this by accident by only allowing screenshots when the screen is on. However, I must admit, I'm still taking a fair amount of accidental screenshots still because of "Raise to Wake."

Messages in iOS 12

21. Everyone Gets Stickers in the Messages Camera

Even if you don't have the iPhone X, you can still use Apple's new support for stickers, which can be added using iMessage sticker packs.

22. Everyone Also Gets Filters in the Messages Camera

As with stickers, everyone can enjoy all the new filters Apple has to offer, including comic book and watercolor filters.

23. And There Is Text Support for the Messages Camera

Not only can you text people words, but now you can add animated labels ... words, phrases, hashtags, whatever ... to photos and videos you share in Messages.

24. You Can Start Calls & FaceTime in Messages

When you're in a single or group conversation thread in Messages, if you tap the name or names up top, more options will expanded where you can start an "audio" call or a "FaceTime" call.

25. Apple Watch Users Get Activity Stickers

If you're an Apple Watch user, you probably know already that if you earn a certain achievement or badge, you get an Activity sticker you can use in messages via the "Activity" iMessage app. While that still rings true in iOS 12, there are 11 non-achievement Activity stickers anyone with an Apple Watch can use right away.

Image by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

FaceTime in iOS 12

26. FaceTime Finally Has Group Calls

We wanted group video chats in FaceTime for iOS 11, but it just never happened. Now, it's finally here for up to 32 users simultaneously, and it looks pretty sweet. Plus, Animojis and stickers work in them.

27. FaceTime Calls Have Animojis, Memojis, Stickers & More

Just like we expected, FaceTime has added support to use Animojis while you're video chatting in a FaceTime call. Additionally, there are stickers and Memojis too, as well as filters and labels.

Safari in iOS 12

28. Favicons Are Finally Supported in Safari Tabs

If you don't know what a favicon is, it's that little picture icon that each site has associated with it. You've probably already seen these icons in Safari when you open a new tab, which houses your "Favorite" bookmarks.

Google Chrome, Firefox, and many other iOS web browsers place each site's favicon visibly in each tab when viewing all tabs, which makes it easier to find the tab you're looking for. Now, Safari has this ability too.

Before and after. Without (left) and with (right) favicons.

29. Safari Prevents Data Collection

While there are already some tools for keeping your data safe from third-party advertisers, Safari in iOS 12 goes a step beyond by preventing share buttons and comments widgets on webpages from tracking you without your permission. In addition to that, advertisers can't acquire your device's unique characteristics. What that means is that they won't be able to target ads based on your device model, and they won't be able to retarget ads across the web.

30. Secure Passwords Comes to Safari & Apps

This is one more reason why you might want to ditch LastPass or another third-party password manager. According to Apple: "Unique, complex passwords for all of your apps and websites are automatically created and saved in Safari and in apps — so you can use more secure passwords without having to remember a thing."

Security in iOS 12

31. You Can Autofill Security Codes Texted to You

Instead of having to remember or copy/paste security codes from the Messages app that you receive for other apps and services, SMS one-time passcodes will now appear automatically as AutoFill suggestions. No more memorizing or typing them out anymore!

32. USB Accessories Require Unlock to Use

While iOS 11.4 added an under-the-hood feature that locked up the Lightning port, preventing any data transfer and only allowing charging, after seven days without having been unlocked, iOS 12 ups the ante to one hour instead of seven days and seems to disable charging in some instances too. This will most definitely keep law enforcement officials out of your personal life.

Image by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

Well-Being in iOS 12

33. There's a New 'Digital Health' Initiative

Apple introduced a new suite of tools in iOS 12 that will improve your digital wellbeing. As a whole, it's called "Digital Health," and it will let you curb app usage, block notifications, gently ease into notifications in the morning, and more. Each of these will be listed in more detail below.

34. Do Not Disturb Blocks Nightly Notifications

If you wake up with a ton of notifications, that will no longer be an issue in iOS 12. With the new "Bedtime Mode" enabled, calls and notifications will be silenced, and all notifications will be sent to the notification history so you can view them if necessary. This mode also gently eases you into notifications for the day when morning comes.

35. You Can View 'Screen Time' Data

As part of the Digital Health initiative, "Screen Time" shows a daily and weekly summary of your app usage, how often you pick up your device, which apps are giving you the most notifications, and more.

36. There's Also a Widget for Screen Time

As suspected, like most Apple apps, there is a companion widget for Screen Time that you can put in your Today view, which can be accessed from a swipe on the lock screen, notification center, or first home screen page. It shows what categories and apps are eating up your screen time the most, and you can tap on the widget to jump into the Screen Time settings to see the bigger picture.

37. App Limits Let You Enjoy the Real World More

As part of Digital Health, you can use the "App Limits" menu to set time limits for individual apps that you frequently use. Reminders will tell you that you're almost out of time for using the app, though you can ignore it if necessary. This syncs across all your iOS devices, so you can't cheat by using a timed-out app on another device.

38. Parents Have More Control

Thanks to the App Limits feature, parents can now set a variety of app restrictions for their children's iOS devices. Parents can schedule downtime, which prevents kids from using the iOS device completely during set times, such as bedtime. They can also see app limits per app or by app categories. There's also the ability to set some apps to always work. And, like you already could before, you can restrict websites, apps, etc. based on age.

39. Your Location Will Be Sent Faster to 911 Centers

While Apple's use of HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) technology has been implemented since 2015, which helps estimate the location of the person calling 911 using cell towers, GPS, and Wi-Fi access points, iOS 12 will step up this game a bit. To help first responders get to you faster after calling 911, Apple will be using RapidSOS's Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to share the HELO info directly to existing software already at 911 centers.

Settings in iOS 12

40. Your Software Can Be Updated Automatically

Tired of going to Settings –> General –> Software Update to get new iOS versions? Well, in iOS 12, you can go there just one more time, select "Automatic Updates," then toggle on the option to have iOS automatically download and install software updates for you.

41. There's Updated Battery Information

The iOS 11.3 update gave us new battery health tools for iPhones, and iOS 12 has fine-tuned these tools even more. Instead of being able to view battery usage by apps based on either the last 24 hours or last seven days, it's now the last 24 hours or last ten days, which supposedly gives a more accurate analysis of battery usage over time. You can also tap on specific times within the new Battery Level or Usage Time charts to see data for those periods only.

42. The Control Center Got a New Control

The default Camera app can already scan QR codes, but now there's a dedicated "Scan QR Code" control available to add to your Control Center. This is not a new tool, but just a "shortcut" to scanning QR codes in the stock Camera app. Depending on how fast you are with opening the app on the lock screen and switching to "Photo" mode, if even necessary, this might come in handy.

It both serves as a reminder that the Camera app can indeed scan QR codes and makes sure you always land on the "Photos" mode instead of your most recently used "Video," "Pano," or whatever else mode.

43. Apps Are Sorted by Usage in Cellular Data Section

If you like seeing what apps are using up most of your cellular data, you just go into the "Cellular" settings and look in the Cellular Data section. Previously, iOS would list all of the apps in alphabetical order, but in iOS 12, it's now sorted by how much data the apps use, from most to least.

44. There's Finally a Thesaurus

Before, when you chose to "Look Up" a word, you would only see the dictionaries that you had set. Now, you can add the "Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus" from the "Dictionary" settings. You can access the preferences by searching for "Dictionary" in Settings or going right there from the "General" settings menu.

45. There Are Three New Language Dictionaries

These include an Arabic and English bilingual dictionary, a Hindi and English bilingual dictionary, and a Hebrew dictionary. You can access them by searching for "Dictionary" in Settings or going right there from the "General" settings menu.

46. Let's Not Forget There's a New Wallpaper

Apple always includes at least one new wallpaper in their big updates, and iOS 12 does just that. While there are no new dynamic or live wallpapers, the colorful still one seen below is a nice addition.

Other Apps in iOS 12

47. The Stocks App Got Revamped

The newly updated Stocks app has a different interface that includes spark times, which show when big surges are happening on each of your stocks. There is also "Top Stories" from Apple News incorporated into the app, and you don't have to leave the app to read the stories. After-hours pricing is also available, but sorry altcoin fans ... there's no Bitcoin or other altcoin support.

48. Student IDs Work in the Wallet App Now

While you should still have your physical student ID in your real wallet, you probably won't need to pull it out as much because you can just use the digital version stored in your Apple Wallet, which you can access via the double-click shortcut on the Side or Home button.

49. iBooks Is Now Called Apple Books

Because Apple's reading app is not just for e-books but for audiobooks, it's been rebranded as "Apple Books," or just "Books" on your home screen. This appeared in some early iOS 11 betas but disappeared soon after. now it's back with a slight redesign too that makes it easy to read, discover, and listen to your favorite books.

50. Apple News Makes It Easier to Discover More Sources

Apple New's UI has been tweaked a little. Now, instead of having tabs for "For You," "Spotlight," "Following," "Search," and "Saved," there's just "Today," "Spotlight," and "Browse." Today is effectively For You, while Browse is the Search, Saved, and Following tabs combined. This "makes it simple to jump straight to your favorite channels and topics or discover new ones," according to Apple.

51. You Can Use Waze & Google Maps with CarPlay

If you actually have a vehicle that supports CarPlay, you can now use it with third-party apps like Waze and Google Maps instead of just Apple Maps.

Performance in iOS 12

52. Your Devices Will Run Faster

Apple has really sped things up with the iOS 12 update, no matter what iOS device you're using. To quote Apple, there's "up to 70% faster swipe to Camera, up to 50% faster keyboard display, and up to 2x faster app launch under heavy workload." That's pretty fast, considering iOS 11 slowed many older devices down. There are also smoother animations and the share sheet will display 2x faster under a heavy workload.

53. The Performance & Stability Is Improved Overall

This is the reason why we less new features in iOS 12 compared to previous years — because Apple wants to fix all of the bad user experience that happened across iOS 11's existence. From performance throttling to weird texting bugs to glitchy calculators, there has been no shortage of bad publicity for iOS 11. Since performance and quality is Apple's main directive for iOS 12, expect everything to finally work like it's supposed to.

So, Is That It for iOS 12?

We're not sure. This latest iOS version will be in beta development all the way up until the stable release in September 2018, so it's likely some features will be removed and new ones will be added. Some might even get pushed back to iOS 13 so Apple can focus on making iOS great again.

We'll continue to update this roundup whenever we uncover new gems we think you'll want to know about, so keep checking back over the next three months to see what changes about iOS 12 for iPhone.

Cover photo, screenshots, and GIFs by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

1 Comment

Thanks for clarifying what works on the devices. Apple always seems to leave this information out at their events and only want to push iPhone x when they are demonstrating their software.

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