iOS 12 is officially available today, after months of betas both for developers and the general public, following its announcement at WWDC in June. And as is the case with Apple’s iOS updates, it’s coming to a huge range of iPhone and iPad devices, from this year’s latest iPhone XS all the way back to 2013’s iPhone 5S.
And with every iOS update, there’s the question that comes up, especially for owners of older devices: “Should I install the new update? Or will it slow down my phone?” It’s been an urban legend for years that Apple intentionally crippled its older devices with software updates, to subtly encourage customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest model — something that was confirmed, at least in part, with the revelations about Apple’s battery throttling late last year.
Or to put it another way: if most iOS updates tend to focus on the flashy, candy-like dessert, this year Apple is serving up a big, heaping plate of vegetables.
Apple is touting performance as one of the main changes in iOS 12, promising things like 40 percent faster speeds for launching apps and up to 70 percent faster speed improvements for launching the camera. And while it’s tough to say whether or not those numbers are really true, the key thing is that it works. Installing iOS 12, for the first time I can remember, has made my iPhone and iPad feel faster and more stable, not less. In weeks of testing (both on the public beta and Apple’s finalized software), my year-old iPhone X flies through tasks.
In other quality of life improvements, Apple has a few updates to password management on iOS 12, too. Third-party password managers like LastPass and 1Password can now directly integrate into password fields in apps and web browsers, which is extremely useful. And SMS passwords texted to you by two-factor authentication services now pop up automatically as an AutoFill suggestions, saving you from having to retype them every time.
Developers, developers, developers
Other parts of iOS 12 won’t make their impact felt until developers have had some time to release apps for them. Apple is pushing its improved augmented reality ARKit 2 in the new update, which allows for shared AR experiences between multiple users.
Apple’s shown off some neat tech demos, and there’ll no doubt be a bunch of apps available shortly after launch that support ARKit 2, but it’s going to really depend on what apps actually take advantage of the new functionality to see if this will be Apple’s breakthrough point for AR or just another fun experiment to show off to a friend once and never use again.
There’s also the new Siri Shortcuts, which lets users and developers add their own interactions and macro sequences to Siri. There are a few layers to the new functionality, ranging from intelligently generated suggestions based on factors like your current location and time of day, to custom Siri interactions and full-fledged automated sequences combining multiple apps.