Should You Upgrade to iOS 12?
Let’s not beat around the bush. The answer to “Should You Download iOS 12?” is “absolutely.”
iOS 12 isn’t the most exciting iOS update. Actually, it’s one of the least exciting updates in years. Unlike previous updates, iOS 12 lacks an array of incredible new features and bold promises from Apple.
Instead, iOS 12 is all about improving the things that needed to be improved. To put it another way, iOS 12 focuses on the little annoyances of using an iPhone. Underused features, slow speed, weird gestures…most of them have been addressed in iOS 12.
This is what makes iOS 12 so fascinating. In previous years, you really had to wonder if an update was worthwhile. This year, though, iOS 12 focuses so much on just making things work that it’s really not even a question.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about iOS 12. In fact, Apple’s ability to deliver on nearly every promise of iOS 12 means that it’s actually more exciting than other, disappointing updates of the past.
However, we must pass along a word of caution regarding iOS 12. If you are using the latest models of iPhone (XS Max and XS), then there are a couple of additional issues with iOS 12 that you’ll want to be aware of. We’ll cover those in a bit, but we don’t think they’re big enough to justify not downloading iOS 12.
Is it Fast and Does it Help Older Devices?
Traditionally, iOS updates only enhance a phone’s performance so much. A software update is just never going to have the same impact as a hardware update. As such, temper your expectations when you’re downloading iOS 12.
However, iOS 12 still manages to be technically faster than iOS 11 in nearly every respect.
One of the most obvious improvements is (surprisingly) the keyboard speed of iOS 12. iOS’ 12’s keyboard appears faster, responds to commands quicker, and sports some new features (more on those later). It just feels so much better.
App launch speed is probably the next most notable performance improvement. Apple is boasting about a 40% improvement in launch speed, which seems to be fairly accurate. The good news is that many apps launched fast in the first place.
We should also mention the camera’s enhanced launch speed from the lock screen. Apple was disappointed in how slow this feature was in the past. As such, iOS 12’s camera launch from lock is slightly quicker and much smoother than it has been in previous versions of iOS. We expect this to improve in future software updates.
What really impresses us about iOS 12’s speed improvements, though, is the way they affect older hardware. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that this app revitalizes older devices and puts them back into play. We’re particularly pleased with how much faster Safari is on older devices running iOS 12. From what users are saying, the iPhone 5/5S and iPad Mini 2 are the biggest beneficiaries of this update.
All told, we’re pretty shocked with how reliable, stable, and fast iOS 12 really is. Good stuff all around.
Major New iOS 12 Features
iOS 12’s notifications updates summarize iOS 12 nicely. They’re all useful and arguably essential but are perhaps lacking some features.
Simply put, iOS 12 cuts down on notification annoyances. The biggest example of this is the way iOS 12 stacks notifications. Remember when you would get a lot of Twitter notifications at once and have them take up your screen? iOS 12 is now much better about grouping similar notices from apps. You can still see all of those notifications but only if you choose to.
Best of all, it’s now easier than ever to manage notifications from apps directly through the lock screen. This allows you to skip some cumbersome steps.
Interestingly, Siri is also now able to provide alerts regarding notifications you’re not really using. This should make it easier to keep up with the notification clutter.
You can also now receive “critical alerts” that are able to bypass do not disturb settings. This seems to be intended for people with medical needs or those who want to receive certain local/national alerts.
It’s certainly nice to see that you are now able to receive enhanced notifications from certain apps. For instance, you can see the pictures of certain Instagram posts without ever leaving your lock screen.
iOS 12 really does make notifications noticeably more manageable.
Worried you spend too much time on your phone? Want to know which apps are consuming most of your time? Curious about your phone’s resource usage? Screen Time is here to help.
In its simplest form, Screen Time lets you keep tabs on how you’re using your iPhone. This is very useful for people who are worried about their productivity. It’s also something of a wake-up call for power users that show them just how much they use their iPhones and what they are using them for.
However, Screen Time is more than just a tattler. It’s a useful way to really monitor and manage your iPhone time. It allows you to set limits on certain apps, block apps for a certain time period, and even schedule a break from your phone. For those who otherwise struggle to manage their iPhone usage, these features could genuinely be helpful.
Where Screen Time really shines, though, is when you start to use it to manage someone else’s device. Parental locks have been on phones for quite some time, but Screen Time takes them to a new level. Not only can you link multiple devices together to form a kind of “family plan,” but the ability to set times for certain apps means that kids can still use phones for productivity.
Screen Time isn’t the first app of its kind, but it’s the most complete take on this concept we’ve seen yet. Expect this to become an iPhone standard.
We’re not completely sold on mobile VR, but Apple seems to think that AR (augmented reality) is here to stay. iOS 12 certainly supports their argument.
Just look at Apple’s new measurement app. Again, it’s not the first measurement app, but it is the best we’ve ever seen. Much more than a digital tape measure, this app allows you to easily digitally measure objects that would tough to physically measure.
AR on iOS 12 goes beyond that highlight feature, though. Multiplayer AR games, enhanced Memojis, 3D object tracking…iOS 12 at making the best of the best things that AR can do right now.
Again, we see an example of iOS 12 not breaking new ground in this respect. However, iOS 12 does make AR feel more practical than ever.
iOS 12 gives you some pretty great reasons to start using Siri more than you might be using it now.
Siri is now able to better recognize when you might need her services. For instance, it may recognize when you’re running late to a meeting and suggest you send a message to a work contact. You’re also now able to easily create your own Siri shortcuts (a vital new feature).
The Workflow app has also been renamed “Shortcuts” and works more through Siri than ever before. This app allows you to maximize shortcuts efficiency by managing a series of complex shortcuts.
The new Shortcuts app lets you manage your iPhone’s workflow like the old Workflow app never quite did. It’s a treat for power users. Even casual users will likely find quite a few uses for it.
Apple is still working out some kinks with this feature, but at some point, enhanced Group Facetime is coming.
When it does arrive in full, you’ll be able to have Facetime conversations with up to 32 people. If that sounds a little crazy…well, that’s probably why it was delayed. It seems that Apple is still trying to ensure that this feature is optimized and relatively bug-free.
Despite the delay, we’re quite excited to try out Facetime’s expanded functionality.
Problems With iOS 12 and How to Fix Them
iMessages Are Being Sent to the Wrong People
This is a bizarre problem that is more common than it should be.
Basically, it seems that some iMessages are being sent to the wrong people. There are many theories regarding why this is happening, but it seems to be related to Apple IDs. It appears that a new grouping system means that some Apple IDs are being grouped together. This, in turn, leads to the wrong people receiving the wrong message.
How do you prevent this? Well, it might be as simple as switching to the “Family Sharing” feature which should de-couple some IDs in family situations. If that’s not the problem, you might have to manually de-couple your contact’s Apple ID from their information via the settings menu.
The good news is that this problem doesn’t seem to be affecting a majority of users.
Some Phones Won’t Charge
If you’ve got an iPhone XS or XS Max, you might encounter some charging problems with iOS 12.
Simply put, it sounds like there are times when these models of phones simply won’t charge. The reason for this is unknown, but it seems to be a simple software issue that will probably be fixed in the near future.
However, there’s a way to fix it before then. As long as you make sure that you see the charging symbol and hear a beep when you put your lightning cable in, then you’re fine. Otherwise, don’t trust that your phone is charging.
It’s not uncommon for first run iOS updates to trigger battery issues. iOS 12 is no different.
As always first make sure that your physical battery is fine. If you weren’t having any problems with your battery before the update, that should be an indication it’s not a hardware problem.
If iOS 12 is really eating your battery, then you’ll probably have to perform a factory reset. Make sure to backup all of your data, reset your phone, and then install iOS 12 on a fresh phone. Restore all of your information after the install, and you should be set.
The reason this happens is that new versions of iOS can sometimes conflict with old versions. When the two codes get tangled up, they can cause your phone to use additional resources while sorting it all out.
iOS 12’s Best Secret Features
AirPods Live Listen
Live Listen lets you use your AirPods to “focus” on a single source of sounds. It’s particularly useful if you’re trying to hear a conversation in a noisy place. Sadly, it doesn’t really work with non-AirPod headsets.
To enable Live Listen, head over to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and tap on Hearing. You should be able to enable the Live Listen widget from there.
Apple Music Lyric Search
This one is very simple and very cool.
Next time you’re using Apple Music, try searching for a song by its lyrics. Yup, the app can now find those songs you remember the lyrics to, but not the name of.
It doesn’t work all the time but this feature’s success rate is quite high.
Two Face Recognition
Do multiple people use your phone? Do you want someone else to be able to use their face to unlock it?
If so, iOS 12 lets you go to Face ID & Passcode “Set Up an Alternate Appearance.” This lets you add a second face for unlocking your phone.
It’s also quite useful for those who wear glasses or otherwise might want to add a second look.
When you get iOS 12, go to Settings>Safari>General and enable Show Icons in Tabs.
You’ve just enabled Favicons; those little icons that appear next to certain website tabs. This makes identifying websites much easier and makes mobile Safari feel much more modern.
Fewer Accidental Screenshots
You know how easy it was to accidentally take a screenshot while you’re iPhone is in your pocket? Well, iOS 12 makes it much more difficult.
With iOS 12, it’s no longer possible to take a screenshot unless your phone is awake. It’s still possible to take an accidental screenshot, but it’s much more difficult.
Keyboard Trackpad For All Devices
iOS makes it possible to use a keyboard trackpad on phones without 3D Touch support.
If you have such a device, simply hold your finger on the spacebar next time you use your keyboard. You should now be able to use a trackpad that lets you make precision cursor movements.
Timed Do Not Disturb and Bedtime Mode
Do Not Disturb gets two useful improvements.
The first is found by opening the Command Center and choosing Do Not Disturb. From here, you can schedule how long you want to be in Do Not Disturb mode, or even set it to go off when you leave a particular location.
Elsewhere, if you go to Settings > Do Not Disturb, you can enable Bedtime mode. This handy feature makes it so that notifications don’t appear on your home screen when your sleeping. This makes it easier not to get distracted.
Simple Close App Gesture
You can once again close apps just by swiping up on them.
Seriously, that’s it. Still, this is significantly better than having to do that weird cross motion from previous versions of iOS.
Optional Automatic Updates
Tired of having to agree to install every iOS update? There’s now a fix for that.
Go to Settings>General>Software Update and tap Automatic Updates. You’re now able to toggle whether your phone automatically updates itself.
Just be warned that there are some iOS updates that are better to wait on.
Disable USB Accessories
If you go to Settings>ID & Passcode and go to the Allow Access When Locked Section, you’ll see that you are able to toggle USB Accessories. By default, it will be set to “Off.” That means that you will need to re-authenticate your log-in whenever you plug in a USB device (unless you’re just charging your phone).
Why does that matter? Well, hackers and others can theoretically access your device via a USB peripheral. This makes it so that it’s impossible (or unlikely) for them to do so without having your access information.
There are reasons to enable this option, but most are better leaving it off.