Getting a fresh operating system from Apple is usually an occasion for celebration as we explore new features and upgrades. We've come a long way since the early days of iPhones and iPads, and Apple's iOS 12 is the latest step forward in the journey.
Now that iOS 12 is available for most Apple devices from recent years, it's time to dive in and discover the latest and greatest it has to offer. Most iPhones and iPads dating as far back as 2013 can handle the new system, so check to see if the update is available if you haven't already installed it.
The new features in iOS 12 cover a lot of different angles. They will help you get a handle on your screen use, make Siri more useful, and keep you in touch with more people than ever before. There's plenty of fun to be had as well. Here are 10 things you can do with iOS 12 that are new and better than ever before:
1. Manage your screen time
One of iOS 12's most interesting new features is one that actually encourages you to moderate how much time you spend on your Apple device. Screen Time can be found in your settings. This is where you can access a detailed usage report showing how much time you're spending staring at your screen, and which apps you use the most.
If you find your Screen Time report a bit shocking, then you can take some steps to control your use. The simplest way to to do this is to set a downtime schedule and also set time limits for apps. You will find those controls in the Screen Time settings. Click or tap here for more tips on getting a handle on your screen time.
2. Set up Siri shortcuts
If you're ready to get more out of Siri, then head to the App Store and download Apple's free Shortcuts app. The app enhances Siri to help you set up personalized shortcuts that work with your apps, including favorites like Maps, Music, Photos, and Safari. You can then run those shortcuts by talking to Siri using voice phrases you set yourself. You can choose from a large gallery of shortcut suggestions, or make your own.
3. Group your notifications
It can be challenging to wrangle your many notifications, but Apple will give you a helping hand with a new grouped notifications feature. This gathers notifications from the same app together and stacks them on top of each other to help keep your notifications from getting out of hand. Tap on the group of notifications in order to expand the stack and see them all. You can choose to turn this feature off in the settings if you prefer the old way.
4. Take digital measurements
Augmented reality (AR) holds a lot of promise as a way for our digital devices to enhance our interactions with the world around us. Apple's new Measure app is a prime example of just how useful this can be. Measure doesn't work with all Apple devices that can run iOS 12, but for those that are compatible, you can use it in place of an actual measuring tape.
Keep in mind this isn't a perfect science, so don't rely on Measure for those times when you need to be stone-cold accurate. The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once applies here. If you need to be absolutely exact, then double check your phone's estimate with a real measuring tape.
5. Turn yourself into a Memoji
If you're a fan of Apple's cute and fun Animoji animated animal figures, then you'll enjoy the arrival of Memoji, which is a custom animated version of yourself available in iOS 12. You can give yourself orange skin, some big glasses, or a bright mohawk for use in the Messages app with an iPhone X, Xs, or XR. Memoji works just like regular Animoji, but gives you the option for a much more personalized look.
6. Get more out of Photos
When you open up the Photos app, you'll notice a new option down at the bottom called "For You." This tab curates memories from your photo and video collection. This alone is a nice addition to Photos, but one of the more interesting features is called Sharing Suggestions. This is for people who use iCloud Photos. It will suggest people to share your photos with, a feature that will get more accurate as it learns over time based on you assigning contacts to faces in your photos.
7. Track your stocks in style
Stock market fans are going to enjoy the upgrade to the Stocks app and its new availability on iPads. The look of the app is improved through a new design. You can also track all of your favorite stocks and easily access key news stories or go more in depth on how companies are performing.
8. Use iPhone X gestures on your iPad
Fans of Apple's iPad tablets have a couple new tricks to try out in iOS 12. The new system brings some of the gestures from the iPhone X right onto your iPad screen. Go ahead and try it out by swiping up from the bottom to return from an open app back to your home screen. Now swipe up from the bottom and hold briefly to open the app switcher. You can also swipe down from the upper right-hand corner to open your Control Center. This update hints at a future Apple world where the home button is obsolete.
9. Navigate better with an upgraded Apple Maps
Apple Maps has always faced tough competition from the popular Google Maps, but the app is getting quite a nice overhaul timed for the release of iOS 12. Updated maps with more detailed data and better navigation are rolling out starting with Northern California locations, including the Bay Area. Apple plans to roll out more locations over time.
10. Talk to a crowd with Group FaceTime
How many people can you fit into one FaceTime chat? With iOS 12, the answer is 32. Apple's Group FaceTime is finally arriving and it can handle a whole lot of simultaneous video conversations. You may be eager to start chatting with your entire extended family, but you'll have to wait a little. Apple delayed Group FaceTime, but still plans to release it in an iOS 12 update later this year.
Apple's iOS 12 is a worthy update for your devices. If you haven't already upgraded your eligible iPad or iPhone, then go ahead and do it and enjoy the new features.
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