It will be several months before Apple releases a final version of iOS 12 to the general public, but for small businesses, it will be worth the wait. While not devoid of flashy new features like Group FaceTime and Mimoji, updates mainly focus on performance, productivity, and backward compatibility.
With iOS 12, performance boosts include faster app launching, with keyboards appearing up to 50 percent faster, and the camera launching up to 70 percent faster, with more responsive typing. And Shortcuts promise to boost productivity in myriad ways.
If you run an office that supplies Apple devices to your employees, these improvements will not only add convenient new capabilities but will save you money by promoting operability for a range of iPhones and iPads dating back more than five years. Any device that supports iOS 11 will work with iOS 12, including the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and the iPad mini 2.
Here are some of the new iOS 12 feature updates that are sure to delight small businesses.
Grouped Notifications in iOS 12 lets you view and dispose of multiple notifications from a single app or topic all in one go. It offers better control over which apps can signal your device, and you can manage notifications from the lock screen. Notifications now appear in a stack so you can get an idea of how many await your attention. You can enable Quiet Notifications for some apps – these are silent and do not appear on your lock screen – or turn them off.
In iOS 11, you can enable Do Not Disturb (DND) at night, but iOS 12 lets you use DND more broadly, say until you leave a specific location or the end of a meeting or event. Siri gets into the notifications act too, by making suggestions based on how you respond to your alerts. You can also opt in to Critical alerts so important information can be delivered even if DND is enabled.
Group FaceTimeCredit: Apple
Apple will offer an alternative to Google Hangouts and Skype. Group FaceTime will host audio/video sessions with up to 32 participants with a feature that transcends both mobile and desktop. FaceTime enlarges a speaker's face on screen while they are speaking, then minimizing it the speaker is done.
If you're having a bad hair day, you can use Memoji or Animoji on your iPhone X as a substitute for your less-than-perfect visage. New Camera Effects for FaceTime and Messages lets you create and share photos or video complete with filters, labels, Animoji, Memoji, stickers and more.
Augmented RealityCredit: Apple
Thanks to ARKit 2, iOS 12 adds new functions that promise to make mobile augmented reality more useful for businesses. It improves face tracking, object detection, and image tracking to enable shared experiences, such as allowing two people to view and interact simultaneously with the same AR environment on separate devices – great for project collaboration. Developers can even build in a spectator mode that allows more people to observe the action. A Persistence feature facilitates building AR experiences around a specific object or physical space.
Apple is debuting USDZ, an open AR file format, optimized for sharing objects while maintaining high-quality graphics and animation to work across Apple's Messages, Safari, Mail, Files and News apps. Quick Look for AR uses USDZ to place 3D objects into the real world. Adobes Creative Cloud will support the new file format.
Apple is now leveraging more precise AR capabilities in iOS 12 with Measure, a new app based on AR tech that lets you accurately measure objects, walls and flat surfaces. Just place an item in the camera frame and drag a line – voila, it's measured.
Screen TimeCredit: Apple
Do you spend too much time playing games, watching YouTube videos, incessantly checking your Twitter feed or posting snaps to Instagram while running your business? You're not alone. If you're looking to kick time-wasting habits, Screen Time can help.
Screen Time gives you all the information you need to analyze and control the time you spend on apps and websites with daily and weekly activity reports. You can find out exactly how much time you spend with specific apps and categories, including how often you pick up your iPhone or iPad in response to notifications.
Finally, the family sharing feature in iCloud lets you monitor these stats for your kids as well and lets you set limits for their use.
iOS 12 will feature at least three varieties of shortcuts: Siri suggestions, Siri shortcuts and a new option for building custom shortcuts. All can potentially save your company time and money.
In its simplest form, Shortcuts deciphers your mobile device usage patterns to monitor habitual activities and automatically and proactively suggest actions designed to save you time and effort. This happens in the background, right from the lock screen or from Search, which you can execute with a tap – you don't even have to launch an app.
You can also trigger a shortcut using Siri with Apple's native apps or third-party apps. Shortcuts lets Siri carry out quick actions, or you can create your own shortcut by stringing together multiple actions triggered by a customized voice command or phrase.
Finally, there's a new Shortcuts app on the horizon, similar to the Workflow productivity app that Apple acquired last year. It lets you use its interface to combine numerous actions into a single shortcut and execute it with a custom Siri phrase or voice command. Shortcuts will work on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and HomePod.
It's not just for kids horsing around on SnapChat: Animoji, and now a personalized version called Memoji – customizable animated avatars – can imitate your facial expressions and head movements, winks and tongue movements for both iMessage and FaceTime on an iPhone X. With new animoji characters, you can become a tiger, koala, Tyrannosaurus rex or a ghost.
The iOS 12 Photos app sports a new For You tab that shows you the best snaps from your photo collection and suggests sharing full-resolution shots with the people in them. If recipients are using iOS 12, they, too, will be prompted to share photos with you. This new feature is not only great for beach parties and weddings, it's ideal for meetings and conferences.
What if you can't find the picture you seek? No problem. New search features, powered by machine learning, suggest objects, recent events, people and places. Or another option is to enter keywords to find your favorite shot. You can even import raw photos on your iPhone and iPad, and edit them on an iPad Pro.
As with macOS Mojave, new web-browsing features in iOS 12 enhance security and privacy. Mobile Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature stops social media Like and Share buttons and comments from tracking you, and, like its desktop counterpart, presents simplified system information to websites that track you via your system configuration to target you for ads.
SMS passcodes will show up in auto-fill so you don't have to type or remember them, removing a barrier to employing two-factor authentication – a must-use feature for businesses. And like in macOS Mojave, the mobile version of Safari automatically creates and stores stronger passwords in the iCloud Keychain, making them available on all your devices and alerting you to reused passwords.
With iOS 12, popular mobile apps like Apple News, Voice Memos and Stocks will get an overhaul and appear on the iPad for the first time. The updated Stocks app will present relevant financial news via a revamped Apple News app.
As part of its redesign, Voice Memos, the handy mobile voice recorder, will feature iCloud syncing so your recordings can be accessed from all devices. CarPlays update adds support for the popular Google Maps and Waze turn-by-turn navigation apps.
If you're really adventurous, or happen to have an extra phone or tablet lying around, you can download the public beta, which will be available soon and check it out for yourself.