Apple’s iOS 12: Grouped Notifications, Siri Suggestions and ‘Screen Time’

apple wwdc 2018 keynote intro

Kicking off its developer conference by poking fun at developers, Apple’s 2018 edition of WWDC brought with it a few notable announcements for lowly users.

But none of the announcements did not have buttons.

“Today is all about software,” Tim Cook confirmed. So if you’re here for hardware, you’ll have to wait until September.

For those who like organised lines of code, notably mobile code, this one’s for you.

Taking to the stage with that glorious mane, Apple’s SVP of software development Craig Federighi took a moment to slate Android’s adoption rate, and confirm that iOS 12 will be focussed on performance.

CPU clocks

Federighi explained that iOS 12 will immediately ramp up CPU clocks when better performance is required, improving app launch times, keyboard launch times, and improving camera photo-capturing speed by 70%.

We’re not sure what this is going to do to battery life though.

USDZ file format for AR

But it wasn’t all about raw speed. It’s 2018, and Apple’s also heavily vested in augmented reality. Creating a new format with Pixar dubbed USDZ, users can capture AR moments and share them, tweak them using Apple or Adobe software.

The files are completely interactive too, and can, say, allow customers to visualise the real-life size of a guitar in a home using augmented reality.

Showcasing more wonders of AR, Apple’s also introducing a new app called Measure. Yes. It’s for those of you who don’t know how to use a tape measure. Using the iPhone’s camera, the app can detect dimensions of photographs and, in a strange demo, suitcases.

ARKit 2 announced

ARKit 2 was also announced, including better face tracking, rendering, 3D object tracking and “support for shared experiences”.

It’s basically multiplayer AR.

Oh, and Lego is getting in on the marketing opportunity, combining its physical building kits with interactive digital worlds. Lego AR Experiences is heading to the App Store “later this year”.

Search and Apple’s Photos app

Apple is also buffing its search app to better compete with Google Photos, arranging photos in specific categories based on location and context.

Newer still is the “For You” tab. It feels like Spotify and Facebook had a baby, but highlights photographs that users took on “this day in history” or highlights shared albums. It’s built around iMessage — the sharing, that is — and search is powered by machine learning.

Not much of an update there.

Siri gains Suggestions and Shortcuts

As for Siri, Apple’s better integrating its bevy of apps into Siri’s ecosystem. Federighi notes that “any app can expose quick actions to Siri”. It’s similar to Google Assistant’s recipes, which allows you to create a macro that can be activated by a simple phrase.

This can be done on iOS 12 via the new Shortcuts app, using drag-and-drop. And if you’re lazy, users can also download shortcuts from the app itself.

Siri will also take note of your habits, and suggests users to order their regular coffee in the morning if you’re prone to that caffeine fix, or suggest you text your boss if they’re late for a meeting.

Apple introduces phone usage management tools

While Apple introduced and tweaked a host of apps, the company’s also looking to limit users’ time on mobile devices. Sounds a tad counter intuitive, doesn’t it?

Do Not Disturb is tweaked, allowing users to set an ending time when toggled on the control centre.

“Screen Time” is the cherry on the phone time management cake. The app will give users a detailed layout on how much time is spent within an app, on the phone, and how many apps are sending the most notifications.

Additionally, users can also limit themselves from using apps. Seriously. It’s like hiding a chocolate bar and constantly remembering it’s there.

“We think this is going to be helpful for many people, but especially some kids,” Federighi stated, announcing a parental allowances scheme too to limit kids ‘ use of their devices.

Grouped Notifications (excited!)

Notifications are also finally, finally being simplified.

“Instant tuning” will allow users to press into notifications from the lock screen into the notification centre directly, without bother. Grouped Notifications are also heading to the OS, and developers let out the biggest cheer on the night. (I flipped my table in glee).

Animoji gets memoji tweak

Animoji is still a thing, with “tongue detection” now included, and a new T-Rex avatar which wins the entire keynote. And “memoji” takes a leaf out of Samsung’s creepy AR book, allowing users to make personalised animated emoji. We can confirm, it’s a lot less creepy than Samsung’s.

Memoji will be made available in the last slot within iMessage in the animoji tab.

Group FaceTime

iOS 12’s tweaked FaceTime app will allow up to 32 users to video call one another. That’s a lot of bandwidth.

The app will be integrated into iMessage too, allowing users to drop in and out of video or voice chats on the fly.

The other app updates

Apple’s News app now has a sidebar, the Stocks app has been redesigned showing stock performance all day (with Apple News also included), Voice Memos is heading to the iPad, and finally, iBooks (now Apple Books) will receive a “dramatic” redesign.

Finally, CarPlay in iOS 12 will support third-party navigation apps, including the likes of Google Maps and Waze.

Feature image: Apple

Andy Walker, former editor


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