Apple’s iOS 12 improves performance, even on your old iPhone

More performance power, more reliability.

As expected from Apple's developer-focused showcase here at WWDC, here's your first glimpse of iOS 12. Previewing what's headed to your iPhone (and iPad) later this year, you might be surprised that it doesn't look all that different. CEO Tim Cook teased that the customer is at the center of everything -- and perhaps nothing illustrates that better than its updated mobile OS. Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, noted that iOS 12 will be supported by all the same devices that iOS 11 ran on -- it's the biggest range of supported devices yet.

Major performance improvements

Crucially, the major productivity gains will be coming to even the oldest supported devices -- as far back as the iPhone 5S. Federighi focused on these older devices to highlight some impressive speed improvements. According to Apple, iOS 12 brings performance improvements to more devices than any previous version

Yes, all your iOS devices will be both faster and more responsive -- it's an update, after all -- but if Apple's numbers are true, we might really see the difference on version no. 12. The company noted that apps can launch up to twice as fast on devices, while you could see major speed increases in photography (the camera app will open around 70 percent faster on iOS 12), and even keyboard summoning times are cut in half on older supported devices.

Federighi also touched on the ability to slow down the CPU to maximize battery life -- which Apple already does, whether you like it or not.

Evolved augmented reality

ARKit 2.0 lands with a new file format and new (possibly incredibly useful) built-in app: Measure. This can... measure items solely through your iPhone camera. Other upgrades that should benefit any augmented reality apps either already out there or in development include better face tracking and object detection -- also shared experiences. That last one will let you play or collaborate in an AR space with up to three other users.

Making photo sharing easier

An upgraded iOS means an upgraded Photos app, and Apple seems to be covering ground lost to Google and its own (admittedly very smart) Photos app. On iOS, your photo collection will now suggest who you should share your images with, and it will even share them at full resolution. iOS goes even further, suggesting your friend share their photos from the same daytrip -- all without a company sniffing through your photos and your attached data. This is all housed in a new "For You" highlights tab.

Smarter Siri

Siri, as it is today, isn't the best. But iOS 12 adds some major new tricks to the voice assistant -- and they center around Shortcuts. These are programmable voice cues: Tap "Add to Siri" and record your custom phrase. So "travel plans" could bring up Kayak to tell you what hotel to go to when you land at the airport or even more travel details. Saying "Heading Home" (or similar) to Siri can even initiate smart home appliances and lights, too.

Tackling tech addiction

Apple is adding a "comprehensive" set of features today to tackle smartphone overuse. Do Not Disturb During Bedtime will now hide your visual notifications until the morning, while Deliver quietly will shift all your notifications to your Control Center for when you can deal with it -- and want to. Oh, and did someone say grouped notifications? Dear iPhone user, your prayers have been answered.

App Limits (they are what they sound like) will help you keep a handle on app overuse. You'll see a notification, called Time Check, giving you a five-minute warning that you're almost done with your quota for the day. Sounds good for kids and adults. This will tap into Reports that will break down your device use weekly -- even noting which apps are sending you the most notifications.

Screen Time lets parents access their child's Activity Report right from their own iOS devices to understand where their child spends their time and can manage and set App Limits (and downtimes) for them.

From the makers of Animoji, here's Memoji

Yep, emoji characters based on your own visage. You can adjust things like hair length and glasses choice, but these can be used in the same animated way as Animoji. You'll need an iPhone X — at least for now.

Everything else?

  • Apple News is being embedded to iOS' Stocks app.

  • The Voice Memos app is coming to the iPad -- and it's been rebuilt.

  • Siri Shortcuts can be said to the HomePod and Apple Watch too.

  • iBooks is out, Apple Books is in.

  • In iOS 12, Apple CarPlay works with both Google Maps and Waze.

  • Apple has added "tongue detection" -- certain Animoji can stick out their tongues just as you do. Killer app.

  • New Animoji include: Ghost, koala, tiger and T. rex

  • Siri translation expands to more than 40 language pairs. It'll also have more knowledge of sports, celebrities, food and nutrition.

  • Siri can also sniff out your photos by person, place, event, time and topic.

Follow all the latest news from WWDC 2018 here!