There is always a debate about how much is enough. As we head towards the month of September, and the inevitable iPhone launches for the year, all the attention right now is on the software. iOS 12 to be specific. The iOS 12 software for your iPhone and iPad, is the beating heart of the experience that you get at the end of it all. All things considered, one could perhaps say that Apple has erred on the side of “boring” with the upcoming iOS 12 software. If you have used the various iterations of the public beta thus far, you’ll probably agree. However, being boring is actually a good thing. Bear with us.
Despite all the excitement about your iPhone and iPad becoming very capable augmented reality (AR) machines, how the artificially intelligent (AI) virtual assistant Siri will be even smarter and how iOS 12 will be your virtual nanny to stop you getting addicted to your phone, what matters more is what you perhaps cannot see as a separate app or a new feature. Everything about iOS 12 revolves around three main themes—performance, stability and security—all designed to make the user experience better. The just released iOS 11.4.1 software update which blocks out the passcode cracking tools, is a step in that direction. And the improvements in all three aspects will be felt more with every newer public beta update and eventually the final release for everyone, sometime in September.
If you are holding on to an older iPhone, such as an iPhone 5s or an iPhone 6, the performance boosts will breathe a fresh lease of life into the device. The compatibility list for iOS 12 suggests the update will be available for the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone SE and iPhone 5s will get the new update, as will the iPad Pro 12.9 (1st and 2nd generation), iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 9.7, iPad (5th and 6th generation), both generations of the iPad Air, as well as the iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Mini 2. Apple says that apps will load 40% faster on the same device running iOS 12 as compared with iOS 11—though the visible difference will be much lesser on the newer and more powerful iPhones and iPads. The share menus, for example, will load at double speed compared with iOS 11, the keyboard will come up at twice the speed and you’ll see smoother animations. It is far too early to judge either of these performance boosts based on the Public Beta variants of iOS 12, but if Apple does get close to the claimed boost numbers in the final release of iOS 12, that surely is fantastic news for users of older iPhones and iPads.
Notifications, if you have multiple apps throwing updates your way, can completely break the phone usage experience and break the flow of whatever it is that you are doing. Grouped notifications will make your phone’s lock screen less of a mess when you pick it up to see who all have messaged while you were busy doing some work. Instant Tuning could be really useful as you’ll be able to reply to a new message without having to leave whatever app it is that you are using at the moment. Location-based and calendar linked Do Not Disturb options are one step closer to automating your smartphone usage experience. And we are barely scratching the surface here, because underneath sits even more powerful features such as Screen Time, better controls for parents who will allow their children to use iOS devices, a more powerful FaceTime app, Animojis to keep you and your friends engrossed for hours and a smarter Siri virtual assistant (this could perhaps be very relevant for the HomePod smart speaker).
If you hoped for a redesigned iOS 12, that isn’t on the horizon, this time around. If iOS 11 was in many ways standing still even with regular iterations, iOS 12 will certainly be able to eke out a lot more out of your iOS device. Hold on to your present iPhone, because you may not need to buy a new one immediately.