SAN FRANCISCO (Circa) -- Apple held its yearly World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose Monday, where Tim Cook and Co. took the stage to unveil new versions of their mobile, computer, smartwatch and smart TV operating systems in front of a crowd of app developers and press members (and plenty more folks streaming live from afar).
The bulk of the festivities were spent introducing new features of iOS 12, the latest upgrade to Apple's iPhone and iPad OS. All said, the jump from 11 to 12 on your iDevices won't be monumental, but there are certainly some bits in the update that you'll want. Here's a rundown of the best new things coming to your phone in iOS 12.
Making old iPhones faster
Have an older iPhone? Apple says the iOS 12 update should speed up your handset, not slow it down like yearly upgrades before it.
Apple took criticism last year after it admitted, yes, its iOS updates were toning down performance on years-old iPhones to "prolong the life of ... devices." The new approach in iOS 12, however, will be some extra TLC for those ancient iPhone 5s, 6, 6s, SE and 7 models in order to raise performance – making an iPhone 6 Plus, according to its example, be able to swipe the camera open 70 percent faster, bring the keyboard up 50 percent faster and open new apps twice as fast.
No telling what these performance tweaks will feel like in real life, but sounds pretty thoughtful for those who loves their long-in-the-tooth iPhones.
Video chatting on your iPhone the Apple way won’t have to be limited to one-on-one anymore. Like Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, FaceTime will now offer group video chatting. And that's up to 32 people at once, so actually even crowd video chatting if you wanna.
Once released publicly, you'll be able to group together FaceTime attendees from iOS and Mac.
Apple’s face-tracking animated emoji feature is expanding to new characters, including a koala, a tiger, a ghost, a T. rex and ... you.
Apple is calling the custom Animoji you can now create in your likeness a Memoji, of course. You can tweak your Memoji by skin tone, hair color, eyes, nose, eyeglasses, jewelry, etc. This is similar to the custom AR Emoji on the Galaxy S9, with the exception that Samsung's version detects a lot of your facial features automatically. From first glance, however, Apple's take seems more anime-inspired, less squeamishly uncanny valley-ish.
And oh yeah, one last update here: You’ll finally be able to stick out your tongue with Animojis. So there you go.
New AR features
Updates to Apple’s ARKit for iOS makes augmented reality more powerful and a step closer to useful.
The new apps that are using ARKit are still the same basic idea – you point your phone camera at the world and a virtual element overlays on your screen.
But new elements like "shared experiences," which lets two users on two different devices interact with the same AR scene, and integration with more brands, like Fender's tool that lets you customize a guitar and then "place" it in your room to see how it will look, definitely up things.
One simple, but great AR app Apple demoed was Measure, which essentially lets you swap in your phone camera for a measuring tape, make use of ARKit's real-world depth detection.
Siri in your favorite apps
The new Siri Shortcuts feature will bring voice commands and smart automation to lots of new third-party apps.
The implications are pretty big, but the example Apple gave was: If you loop Kayak in as a Siri Shortcut app (because almost all of this is customizable) , then asking Siri to give you info on your upcoming trip means she can look into Kayak and dictate the deets.
The automation part of Shortcuts is Siri learning which apps you use when and then placing "shortcuts" to them on your lock screen. In other words, if you buy a coffee from a certain cafe every morning at the same time, assuming the app associated with the cafe has a Siri Shortcut built into it, Siri might pop up with a suggestion that you order that coffee before you walk by it next time.
Screen time management
The new Screentime app lets you see what apps you're spending most of your time on and then place limits for yourself on the ones you'd rather not be. In action, a reminder
pops up at the top of the app while you're browsing to let you know you have 5 mins left, and then it'll actually closes the app when your time is up for the day. (You can always tap ignore if you've changed your mind, so some self-control required).
The app can reach across linked or family devices and be used to monitor and lock out kids, too.
If you've ever panicked while thumbing through a silly-large number of notifications on your phone, then iOS 12's Grouped Notifications should surely help. Instead of a million stray rectangular alerts on your lock screen, it shows you, yep, "groups" of like-kinded and stacked notifications (think: all messages together, all news alerts together, all emails together – you get the picture). This way, you can clear a stack or notifications easily, and/or pulling a stack down will let you go through each notification manually ... but why would you want to do that?
On the same wavelength is iOS's new Do Not Disturb option that will let you hide all notifications when it’s bedtime and your phone is resting on your nightstand. Out of sight / out of mind.
More app updates
With iOS 12, the Photos app is getting Google Photos-like suggestions, which will pull up and categorize pics automatically and place them at the top of the app. The Stocks and Voice Memos apps have been redesigned, and so has iBooks – so much so that it's now called Apple Books.
Enough good stuff for you?! iOS 12, like other iOS updates before it, will be released in the fall, though developers and those who wish to try the beta test version will get to it first, with the latter going up for download at beta.apple.com for the public in the coming weeks.