Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018 has kicked off, and as expected, the Cupertino-based company has given the world a first peek at the next operating system for the iPhone and the iPad—iOS 12.

This announcement comes at a time when only 6% Android phones run the newest Android operating system, while more than 80% compatible Apple devices run the newest iOS 11 operating system. 

Apple insists that iOS 12 will focus on performance, and will be available on all the devices that run iOS 11. That means comparability will be fairly widespread, for iPhones and iPads.

For starters, the processor architecture of the A-series chips that power iPhones and iPads will ramp up performance sooner than what most other chips allow. All iOS devices will support this, irrespective of the chip generation they may be running. The under-the-good changes will allow apps and share menus load twice as fast in iOS 12 as they would on the same device running iOS 11.

Augmented reality (AR) continues to be a big focus for Apple. As things stand, iOS 12 will introduce new AR content file format called USDC, and this will be optimised for sharing in terms of size and compatibility.

Adobe has already announced that it is supporting the new AR content format, and will be compatible with Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps such as Photoshop and Dimension.

AR will be the foundation for a new app called Measure, which will calculate sizes of objects etc., in the real world. At present, apps such as MeasureKit do the same tasks, but Apple’s preloaded app in iOS 12 could perhaps become the default for most users.

ARKit, the framework that drives AR apps and experiences on iOS, has been updated to ARKit 2. It can now do smarter shared experiences, face tracking and handle virtual objects in the real world. 

Apple is revamping the Photos app. Search gets a refresh, with new Search Suggestions highlighting key moments, people and places, for instance.

The Photos app will also map events globally, and tag photos you take at those locations accordingly, for better search results. There are new sharing suggestions as well, to share photos will friends who may be detected in photos in your library. 

Virtual assistant Siri will also get a new avatar in iOS 12. This was expected, considering Google has been improving Assistant and Amazon has been fairly aggressive with Alexa.

It will now use artificial intelligence (AI) derived suggestions, such as for your regular food orders at a certain time of the day, tracking routine at the gym, send a text to a meeting organiser informing them you are running late and enabling Do Not Disturb when you arrive at a cinema to watch a movie.

Siri also gets a Shortcuts app. Apps will get an “Add to Siri" button and that will allow to pull in details from third-party apps for meetings, travel details etc. These are fully customisable, and you can add even more Shortcuts for different times of the day. 

Apple wants you to use your mobile devices a bit lesser than before. There is the Do Not Disturb feature for bedtime. When enabled, the notification screen that you see when you wish to peek at the time in the middle of the night, will only include essentials such as the time and the weather. What will be hidden away are distracting app notifications from the lock screen. 

Notifications get an “instant tuning" feature, which allows you to by-pass lock screen for certain app notifications. There will also be grouped notifications, which means no more WhatsApp notifications overloading your phone’s lock screen.

Finally, there is a feature called Screen Time. You get a weekly activity of how you have used your iOS device—usage pattern, apps used, busy apps etc. The app will also help you with a feature called App Limit—this will notify you if you are using an app too much. 

Apple will be giving iMessages app a slight refresh as well in iOS 12. The Animoji feature was first introduced with the iPhone X, and now there are new Animojis such as koala, t-rex and a friendly ghost. There is now a new feature called Memoji, which lets you create your own Animoji.

FaceTime gets the group calling feature in iOS 12. This means groups can include 32 simultaneous participants. FaceTime will also be integrated into Messages app, making switching between messaging and group calling easier. When someone speaks, the tile for that person becomes larger on the screen.

As expected, News app gets a refresh with a new sidebar and a favourites menu.

Apple CarPlay has received a long due update as well. Now, CarPlay will also support third party navigation apps, including Google Maps. 

Apple will be rolling out the final version of iOS 12 later this year, for compatible iPhones and iPads.

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