Apple reveals 6 huge iOS improvements for 2018

We just learned several important details around some of the key iOS improvements Apple hopes to make available to the rest of us in the coming weeks.

Apple, iOS, iOS 11, iOS 11.5, ARKit, ARKit 1.5

We’ve just learned several important details around some of the key iOS improvements Apple hopes to make available to the rest of us in the coming weeks.

ARKit is about to improve

Apple wants to energize ARKit development with a range of powerful new features in ARKit 1.5 and iOS 11.3, which are currently in beta testing. These important improvements will clear even more space between the company and competitors in the mobile space. They include:

  • The capacity to recognize vertical surfaces (walls, doors, and such like). Until now, ARKit could recognize only horizontal surfaces.
  • Image detection for signs, posters and other artwork
  • Higher resolution (1,080p instead of 720p), enabling more realism in AR experiences.

These improvements should mean ARKit developers will be able to build better games (such as bouncing balls off of walls) and more immersive VR experiences, particularly in the education and museum sectors.

Health records for iPhones

Apple this morning also confirmed my many predictions that it is working to develop a health records system that is compatible with iPhones and iPads. These new features will be introduced as an element within the company’s Health app, according to The New York Times, which claims:

“It will enable users to transfer clinical data — like cholesterol levels and lists of medications prescribed by their doctors — directly from their medical providers to their iPhones.”

There are dual advantages to this: Not only will patients be able to enjoy complete access and control of their own personal medical information, but it will make it much easier for them to source second opinions or secure appropriate and personalized help in an emergency or when travelling.

The report says the feature — which will be introduced in beta form later this week — is being introduced in cooperation with a dozen medical institutions.

The great thing here is that Apple will have no insight into your medical data.

I believe this is an important first step toward intelligent and personalized healthcare support through technology, including in future big data analysis of anonymized health records with potential value in public health management, treatment, prevention and cure. Apple acquired health records developer Gliimpse in 2016.

A smarter Siri

Apple this week introduced iOS 11.2.5. The update introduced the useful enhancements to Siri the company has developed in support of its soon-to-ship HomePod smart speaker solution.

“The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favorites to the latest chart-topping releases,” Apple’s Phil Schiller said.

These improvements also include the capacity to play radio news from a variety of providers by asking Siri.

The company seems to also suggest Siri will become much more capable of making accurate and useful music suggestions.

“Siri, now actively used on over half a billion devices, has developed a deep knowledge of music and understands your preferences and tastes,” the company said in a press release.

Better with battery

A small but significant improvement, Apple confirmed that iOS 11.3 will introduce new battery health controls in Settings.

These tools are Apple’s response to criticism that it quietly throttled device performance in recent iOS devices, ostensible to prevent unexpected shutdowns. It turned out that many iPhone users wanted a choice in such behaviors, so Apple’s new Battery Settings will enable us to turn this throttling off in order to enjoy full device performance.

Apple’s big in the enterprise

The final strand comes from Jamf, which confirmed that Apple’s big push into enterprise IT is very, very real. Jamf now manages over 9 million Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV devices in the enterprise space. Customers include 17 of the 25 largest Fortune 500 firms and seven of the top 10 U.S. media companies.

Apple adoption will only increase as Apple and Cisco continue to develop ways to enhance iOS security within the enterprise space. I expect Apple to augment iOS’s existing Mobile Device Management (MDM) compatibility with support for mobile security situation awareness tools, as such intelligent security awareness solutions will become more prevalent in 2018.

The bots are coming

Apple discussed a new iOS 11 feature it called Business Chat last year at WWDC.

We’ve seen very little more since then, but the company has filled out a bit more detail on what I see as some form of Apple-based support for future customer service bots.

The idea is that customers will be able to Message enquiries to a small selection of companies (currently including Lowe's, Discover, Hilton, and Wells Fargo, with others expected to sign up by the time this feature ships spring).

“With Business Chat, it's easy to have a conversation with a service representative, schedule an appointment or make purchases using Apple Pay in the Messages app,” the company said.

Enterprise users may also be interested to learn that LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance and Genesys have already integrated with Business Chat, according to Apple.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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