SAN JOSE—iOS 12 is coming to iPhones and iPads later this year, and as expected, it primarily focuses on performance and stability, with a few new features. The new software was announced during a keynote presentation at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), as expected.
Apple says the update will be available on all the same devices as the current iOS 11 release, and that the company is putting a particular focus on ensuring the update works smoothly on older devices such as the iPhone 6 family.
To give a point of reference, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, said iOS 12 will launch apps up to 40% faster and bring up the keyboard up to 50% faster on an iPhone 6 Plus. Federighi said the update will make a compatible phone "instantly ramp up performance to its highest state" when it recognizes that it needs a performance boost—such as when you're loading an app—then more quickly bring it down to help preserve battery life.
Also as expected, Apple is making improved augmented reality a focus of iOS 12. The company announced the launch of ARKit 2, the next iteration of the AR development framework it launched last year. It says the update will bring improved face tracking performance, more realistic rendering, and the ability to create multiplayer augmented reality apps. )Google announced similar multi-user functionality for its ARCore platform last month.) LEGO demonstrated an app in which multiple users could play with a shared virtual LEGO kit, for instance.
Beyond that, Apple said it worked with movie studio Pixar to create a new file format specifically designed for AR called USDZ.
The update will also bring improvements to search and Apple's Photos app. The company said iOS 12 will let you users search through their photo libraries with the help of object and scene recognition.
The update will also bring new features to Apple's Siri digital assistant. The biggest of the bunch is a feature called Shortcuts, which will let users create a voice prompt to ask Siri to perform commonly-made actions with third-party apps. Apple gave the example of assigning the phrase "help me find my keys" in conjunction with the Tile app: if you say that, Siri could be made to automatically activate the Tile app and work with you to find those keys right from within the Siri interface. You could also assign a set of tasks to the assistant with a phrase like "heading home," which could then prompt Siri to start up a favorite radio station, set your home thermostat, send a message to your spouse, and tell you how far away you are from your destination.
Along with that, Apple says Siri will be more proactive about suggesting things you do on a regular basis. If it's a loved one's birthday, for instance, it could present a home screen shortcut reminding you to call them. If you regularly order coffee from a specific app, it could give you a quick link to do that in the morning. There's a dedicated editor for setting up custom prompts, and Apple says this kind of behavior will work across iPhone, iPad, the Apple Watch, and the HomePod.
Apple's WWDC keynote is still in progress. You can follow the action in real-time with our liveblog, and we'll continue to update this story as information becomes available.