The pace of iOS innovation was so intense that even Apple could not keep up. In some ways, the main feature of iOS 11 was that it was full of bugs, with bugs fixed automatically, messages crashing and the calculator application was not calculating properly. iOS 12 is a good change of pace.
"For iOS 12, we're doubling our performance," said Craig Federighi, vice president of Apple's software engineering department, at WWDC.
Although there are some exciting new features, iOS 12 is not a splashy version like the ones that have been released in recent years. This does not change the way you use an iPad and does not open applications with new hooks all the way.
It is clear that all the fruits at hand have been addressed. Today, Apple is primarily adding new frameworks for specific categories of applications instead of releasing major platform changes that affect all third-party applications.
And for the rest, everything is about improvements, bug fixes and optimizations. Apple released the first public release of iOS 12 today. I've played a bit with the first beta versions of iOS 12, so here's what you should look for.
Modifications of the operating system
Let's start with the updates at the operating system level. iOS 12 should be faster than iOS 11, including on older devices.
You know this feeling of instant regret when you update your old iPhone or iPad to a new version of iOS. Everything seems a lot slower. Apple wants to reverse this trend and make iOS 12 faster for the iPhone 5s or the iPad mini 2.
Applications should start faster, the keyboard should appear faster, the camera should be more responsive and more. It's hard to feel that with a beta version of iOS 12, so we'll have to revisit this statement in September.
Other than that, there is another major theme for iOS 12 – which makes you look at your phone less often. And this goal is reflected with three new features – Screen Time, better notifications and a more granular mode Do not disturb.
Screen Time is a new feature that lets you see how much time you have lost scrolling through the streams. You get weekly reports and parents can set synchronized application limits on all your iOS devices.
Do not disturb is now more granular because you can configure it for an hour, until the end of an event or until you leave a location. Many people did not want to use this feature because they had forgotten to turn it off.
As for notifications, they are now grouped by default. In my experience, it takes time to get used to it, but it is a great improvement for noisy applications. You can also drag a notification to disable notifications for a specific application or turn them into silent notifications. You will feel more in control of your iPhone instead of feeling as if your iPhone is controlling you.
Apple could not stop these improvements and had to release application updates for its own applications. Let's look at the most memorable ones.
You can finally give up Skype because FaceTime now supports group chats – at least if all your friends use iPhones. This feature alone will definitely increase the rigidity of the iPhone, just like the fact that you can not participate in iMessage conversations on Android.
Speaking of Messages, most iPhone users will not see a difference this year since Apple is focusing on the iPhone X. In addition to the new Animojis, you can now create your own avatar in using Memoji. I must say that I really like Bitmoji from Snap, so I am very excited to use it. The only problem is that it sounds like a one way conversation if you do not talk to someone who uses an iPhone X. That's the kind of features that will start making sense after a few years when all the world has Face ID on his iPhone
Four other Apple apps have been updated. Stocks and Apple News have benefited from design improvements. Voice Memos will now store your memos in iCloud and sync them with your iPad and Mac without using iTunes (well). iBooks is now called Apple Books, and it now looks more like the updated App Store.
The two bets of Apple
With iOS 12, Apple continues its big bet on augmented reality and begins something new with Siri. These platform changes might resonate with developers and users or could become a distraction for everyone.
The Apple Augmented Reality SDK gets a major update. With ARKit 2, developers can create applications that share the same augmented reality universe among multiple users. You can imagine multiplayer games and shareable worlds. Apple has also been working to improve the overall performance of the executive.
But is it really important? Looks like a lot of geeks like you, TechCrunch readers, have been testing ARKit apps after the release of iOS 11. But there have not been any big successes right here. It's still not clear if people really want to use their iOS device to fuel an augmented reality experience.
And the second big thing is Siri Shortcuts. After Apple acquired Workflow, the automation application for iOS, many people were wondering what it would mean for automation fans. The good news is that Apple fully adopts Workflow with a set of features.
App developers can now configure shortcuts to allow users to add a restaurant reservation, a favorite Deliveroo order, or a favorite sports team to Siri. On paper, it's pretty powerful and limited at the same time. It sounds like bookmarks for Siri.
Most users will stop at suggested shortcuts. But experienced users will be able to configure multi-step workflows in the new Shortcuts app. It's like Workflow, but with a new name and new home automation features.
This is good news if you are an experienced user, but I wonder if the shortcuts will find a mainstream audience. I could not test these features because they are not yet available in the beta. Maybe the shortcuts will be added with iOS 12.1 or 12.2.
There are a lot of little refinements in iOS 12 that I have not listed here. For example, the portrait mode has been improved and the Photos application is getting better at showing you personalized recommendations. Or if you have an iPhone X, you can add a second face to unlock your phone.
iOS 12 looks particularly promising if you consider your iPhone as an infrastructure. Many people want a device as reliable as possible. And iOS 12 should stand out on this front.