iOS 12: Boring is Better

Every June, Apple announces the new operating systems for the fall of that year, and they make their storied announcements at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).  Every version of Apple’s iOS has contained major bells and whistles, alongside the expected under-the-hood improvements.   The anticipation for iOS 12 had been very high leading up to this year’s WWDC a few weeks ago.  When the dust settled, a lot of purists and Apple critics alike were left wanting more, and iOS 12 felt like a let down. But let’s dial back.

Operating systems usually do bring cool new features, and iOS 12 certainly has its share.  However, the focus for iOS 12 is all about making the OS better, less buggy, and faster on new and older devices alike.  I am an Apple purist, and I have personally felt like the last several operating systems had more flash than polish, and I have strongly desired for Apple to batten down the hatches and make iOS the best operating system possible, not just the coolest.  Gimmicks are great, but they are just that: gimmicks.  

The focus of iOS 12 is mostly under-the-hood, with minor bells and whistles such as they much-memed Memoji taking center stage.  Memoji is the next-gen take on Animoji’s, Apple’s animated avatar emoji that was previously centered around a dozen or so animated emojis that can take the place of your face utilizing the iPhone X’s True Depth camera system to track movements.  Memjoi allows you to customize your emoji into a replication of your face, as realistic (while cartoonish) view as you want, or the ability to change your appearance in any way possible.  The big addition to Animoji and Memoji is tongue detection, and this is the feature that had people mocking Apple for its announcement, even though it was announced as a tongue-and-cheek feature (pun intended).  When you stick your tongue out as a Memoji or Animoji, the iPhone detects this and the animated representation also sticks its tongue out.  

Not enough bells and whistles for you? How about the new ARKit 2.0-based Measure app? This is really slick.  Open up the new Measure app and move your phone’s camera around the room, and then after it adjusts its measuring system to the room, it allow you to measure objects in real time without having to break out that always-lost measuring tape.  The first use for the new Measure app? Guaranteed penises everywhere are being measured by eager developers as we speak. Am I implying that this is what I used it for first? No, as the Measure app measures in inches and feet, not miles.  So its useless for me. 

Hands down, the real meat of the new iOS 12 for bells and whistles is the most-requested feature Apple had that they had yet to act on: Group FaceTime and Group FaceTime audio calls.  This one is a killer feature, and group video chat companies such as Skype and Zoom must be shaking in their boots right now.  FaceTime now supports 32 people in a chat, either video or audio, or both, and does it in an absolutely beautiful format.  The floating preview windows change focus based of who is currently talking, and switches between the participants seamlessly.  Not enough? You can FaceTime with an Animoji or Memoji mask on, and choose from dozens of markups such as various backgrounds and stickers you can drop into a live video window.  This is the killer app of iOS 12, and one that has a huge future ahead of it.

Under the hood, everything is getting better.  Dramatically faster, much better notification system with grouped notifications, and a completely overhauled Do Not Disturb system.  Siri has been beefed up dramatically, and her value is seen quickly when it comes to DND.  Have a movie ticket in your phone? Siri will detect it, and when you arrive at the theater, ask you if you want to turn on DND until your movie is over.  Have a lunch meeting in your calendar? When you arrive at the meeting location, Siri will ask you if you want to turn on DND until you leave the location. You can force press on the DND button in control center, and it gives you various choices from turning on for an hour, or until you leave that location.

iOS 12 is the real deal.  It is a much-needed break from all the flash, and hammering down on the bugs and performance issues that have plagued the last few versions of iOS.  Don’t think its enough? Wait until September and be blown away how much better your device will function.  Brilliant maneuver, Apple.

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