WWDC: Up next -- What to expect in iOS 12

Apple’s WWDC developer conference takes place next month. Here’s a quick run-down of the latest speculation surrounding iOS 12 -- the next iPhone, iPad OS upgrade.

Apple, iOS, iOS 12, iOS 13, Apple Maps, WWDC, iPhone, iPad

Apple’s WWDC developer conference takes place next month. Here’s a quick run-down of the latest speculation surrounding iOS 12 — the next iPhone, iPad OS upgrade.

When stable gets sexy

Whispers earlier this year claimed Apple plans to focus on stability in the release. If that’s true, it means we shouldn’t expect too much in the way of all-new features but can expect some enhancements, alongside battery, performance, and security enhancements.

I’m predicting battery, performance, and stability enhancements because the latest claim is that iOS 12 will be compatible with the 5-year-old iPhone 5s. I’m not particularly convinced by that claim or the source. However, any move to support the OS on older devices strongly suggests overall performance and stability tweaks that will be of even more benefit when using more recent iPhone models.

iOS for Macs

Apple CEO Tim Cook has refuted speculation that the company intends to merge its iOS and macOS systems.

"We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade-offs and compromises."

He added:

“This merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want."

This may or may not be true.

It isn’t the first time the company has managed expectations in this way — it once seemed to deny creating a netbook competitor only to launch an iPad.

I think it’s reasonable to predict Apple will continue to develop both platforms, so it becomes more easily possible to remain productive on both. I suspect Cook’s words hint that any such “merge” that does take place will not be as predictable as running iOS on Mac or vice versa. (It may come to the same thing, but the paradigm will be better designed.) Don’t expect to see this in iOS 12, Daring Fireball warns.

An iOS 12 rumor run-down

There have been a wave of recent claims around the upcoming mobile OS. In summary, these include:

  • New iPhone X Animoji
  • Animoji/FaceTime integration
  • Stocks improved
  • Do Not Disturb enhanced
  • A Digital Health tool for parents, enabling them to manage children’s digital time.
  • Health Records for iOS enhancements.
  • Sleep tracking improvements
  • Multi-user sessions support for AR games and FaceTime
  • Improved Shazam integration
  • Improved message and presencing technologies

Apple promised two key improvements (AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud) within iOS 11 at WWDC 2017. Neither of those have yet appeared, so it seems possible these have been held back for iOS 12 or for introduction during a surprise spring event (unlikely).

What about Siri?

Apple continues to invest in Siri, which is now actively used by over 500 million people. That’s a huge number of users, and it means investment in improving the voice assistant has become mandatory.

Apple’s own machine learning team recently revealed itself to be working on "Personalized Hey Siri," which will be able to identify the voice of the owner of the device. This is good, as it should stop all the devices in the room from responding when you try to ask Siri something.

Upcoming improvements in the company’s voice OS will also likely include support for more types of search (particularly around music) and improvements in Photos AI.

Life after iOS 12

Apple is also working on new features for iOS 13. This (apparently) should benefit from an improved CarPlay interface, Mail improvements, and a slew of updates for photography, photo editing, and sharing.

More recent claims (published on Twitter, so presumably not fully verified) suggest improvements in the Files app and productivity enhancements for iPad and Apple Pencil users (running two instances of the same app side by side, for example).

One more thing? Based strictly on the lack of attention being paid to it, I'll be looking at any announcements around ARKit and/or Maps at WWDC.

What are you expecting from iOS 12? How quickly do you think the OS will reach the majority of iPhone users?

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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