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Apple iOS 12 Review: Top 5 Features Worth Upgrading For

After announcing the software’s release date last Wednesday, Apple has begun rolling out iOS 12 to millions and millions of iPhone and iPad users. But the question remains: should you install the new software?

I’ve been testing iOS 12 since the first beta was released back in June, and let me tell you, it’s a phenomenal update. I own an iPhone 7 that I’d like to upgrade to an iPhone X or XS at some point which I’ve been running the pre-release software on. And now that I have iOS 12, that new hardware looks a lot less appealing, and it’s because of the fantastic improvements the upgrade brings with it.

If you’re considering whether to install iOS 12 on your iPhone or iPad, here are five features that make it worth upgrading to.

1. Performance

The moment after you install iOS 12, you’ll immediately notice just how much more fast and fluid your iPhone or iPad is. Apple is essentially utilizing all the headroom it packs its processors with that allow them to run for years on end without becoming unusably slow. With iOS 12, Apple says an iPhone 6 Plus could experience up to 40 percent faster app launches, up to 50 percent faster keyboard pop-ups, and up to 70 percent faster access to the camera.

To test this claim, I installed the GM seed of iOS 12 on a four-year-old iPhone 6 and, let me tell you, it’s significantly changed the way I feel about the device. Previously, I was using the phone with iOS 11 installed and everything felt like it was ready to conk out and die on me. But after I loaded up iOS 12, I noticed significantly-improved app launch times, faster animations, and shorter load times for other processes throughout the OS.

This wasn’t the only device I noticed better performance from. My iPhone 7 even benefits from the new software, whereas with iOS 11, it was becoming a bit slower than I’d like from a two-year-old device. It’s sort of like iOS 12 resurrects older devices and allows them to live another year or two.

If you need concrete proof that performance enhancements are happening with iOS 12, here are a couple of benchmarks I ran on the iPhone 6 with both iOS 11 and 12 installed. While iOS 12 doesn’t improve things tremendously in this regard, the bump is noticeable and, nonetheless, nicer to see than no change at all.

If your device is becoming slower and beginning to show its age, installing iOS 12 will give it new life. It’ll let you use your phone or tablet for at least another year until you feel comfortable with upgrading to something newer. I was greatly delighted by just how much better my iPhone felt to use with iOS 12 installed. All in all, while I do want to discuss four other features, you could install it for this reason alone. It’s just that significant.

2. Grouped Notifications

Okay, time to move one. The second feature that makes iOS 12 totally worth it is the improvements Apple made to notifications, specifically grouped notifications. Yes folks, the time has come where Apple no longer finds it ethical to display all of your notifications in an endless, long, and completely unnecessary static list in the notification center. Now, when you get multiple notifications from a single app, they’ll be grouped together into a single notification which can be expanded or dismissed using a single tap or swipe to the left.

I have to tell you, I’ve been waiting for this feature for so long in iOS. Android’s been doing grouped notifications for years now and Google has had time to improve how it handles them, all the while Apple stays stuck in an endless list that’s a pain to look through at the end of your day. Now, with iOS 12, notifications are much more organized and easier to manage with new controls that appear right within the notification center itself. This, alone, also makes iOS 12 completely worth installing.

3. Screen Time

I didn’t think I’d enjoy or use Screen Time as much as I did while I tested iOS 12, but I found myself constantly checking my stats during the week to see how I was doing and where I should improve.

If you’re unfamiliar, Screen Time allows you to get a birds-eye look at how you’re spending your time while on your iPhone or iPad. It tracks your daily usage within apps and displays the length of time you spend in each in an easy-to-read graph. At the end of the week, you’re given a report that details the average time you spent on your phone each day and which apps you used the most. You can also use the feature to set time limits for certain apps and block out apps from operating after a certain time of day, such as before you go to sleep.

Thanks to Screen Time, I realized just how much I use my phone during the day. I pick up my phone roughly 40 to 50 times per day; I get a few hundred notifications a day (all thanks to Twitter and the enormous amount of accounts I have tweet notifications on for to stay on top of the news); and I spent way too much time on social networking apps during the week, especially Instagram. All of this data can help you make proactive decisions during the day and, hopefully, make you less addicted to your smartphone.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say I’ve used my phone less and less over the past few months because of Screen Time. Sure, I can monitor it and keep tabs on things which I find very entertaining, but nothing’s really driven me to decrease my own screen time. I’ve simply kept my same habits and used my phone the way I do each day.

Maybe I’m not willing to change my screen time or better my digital wellbeing, but as far as I’m concerned, Screen Time has only really exposed just how much time I spend during the day on my phone.

In the same breath, you might have a different experience than I did. This is why I’m mentioning Screen Time in this list. It has the potential to help you decrease the amount of time you spend in apps like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more and help you manage it all by using features like app time limits and improved Do Not Disturb functionality at night.

Will I still use the feature now that I’ve reviewed it? Of course I will, simply out of hope that one day, it’ll work for me like I expect it to for many others.

4. Upgraded Apps

With every new iOS update comes upgraded versions of Apple’s stock apps, and boy are there plenty of them. For iOS 12, Apple includes redesigned versions of News, iBooks (now known as Apple Books), Stocks, Photos, and Voice Memos. The News app is the place where I got the most use out of the new design thanks to its better fluidity and easier access to stories I care about. The Photos app’s new For You feed was also helpful in which it let me relive certain moments in my iPhone’s camera roll. I didn’t use the new Stocks, Voice Memos, or Apple Books app all that much because they’re features I don’t typically use on a daily basis, but if you care about them, you’ll appreciate the changes Apple made in this version of iOS.

There’s also a new app Apple’s introducing with iOS 12 called Measure. It’s a simple measuring app powered by the company’s ARKit 2 technology. It allows you to measure objects around the real world and get an, admittedly, really accurate measurement. I tested the feature on tablets, chairs, desks, and more and found the tool to be slightly inaccurate around 30 or 40 percent of the time. That’s not at all bad for a software-based measuring tape. And with Apple focusing so heavily on AR for the future, I can only imagine the app will continue to get better.

Also, while we’re on the subject of new apps in iOS 12, I didn’t get a chance to test Siri Shortcuts because I was never invited to install the app during the beta process. However, as soon as I get some time with the feature, I’ll either update this article with my thoughts or write up a second piece detailing what’s new with Siri in iOS 12. Stay tuned.

5. The Little Things

Apple’s usually good for a long list of little touches and features it adds to its new software, and iOS 12 is no exception. The company introduces a variety of little additions that make for a better experience overall.

For instance, you can now share much more fun photos and videos thanks to integration with stickers, filters, text effects, and Animoji. Speaking of which, Apple now also lets you create your own Animoji with Memoji that lets you tweak a character to resemble you or a person you know. You can also now use four new pre-built Animoji including a koala, tiger, ghost, and T. Rex.

With iOS 12, Apple also introduces ARKit 2 with new under-the-hood improvements to make augmented reality experiences better for all users. There’s also a new photo searching experience within the Photos app, enhanced privacy features, automatic strong passwords in Safari, AutoFill security codes for log-ins, thrid-party navigation apps in CarPlay, better battery information – I mean, the list keeps going on.

If you consider all the features I’ve discussed, you’ll probably want to pull the trigger and install iOS 12. If I didn’t already have it installed, I would certainly download it as soon as I got the prompt that it was waiting for me.

If you aren’t yet convinced that iOS 12 is for you, at least consider the possibility of your phone or tablet’s speed increasing exponentially with the new software on board. This goes for even those using an iPhone X as many people I’ve spoken to with the device claim it’s made their devices snappier and an overall greater pleasure to use.

In the end, I strongly recommend installing iOS 12. It’s not an overthinking of how iOS should work nor is it a confusing redesign. It’s a beautiful refinement of the core iOS experience that’s faster, more responsive, and an obvious contender for the best version of the operating system ever released.

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