Apple releases iOS 12 Public Beta 1

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Apple has released the first iOS 12 public beta. Members of Apple’s Beta Software Program can download the previews now and register devices now. There are loads of new features in iOS 12 that won’t be officially available until September.

Apple fully understands that not everyone can splash out on a £1,000 iPhone X and is making sure that even devices as old as the 2013 iPhone 5s get a speed boost with iOS 12 installed. According to the firm, the new update will make tasks such as launching apps a lot quicker. As an example, the Camera app will launch up to 70 per cent faster and typing your next text on the keyboard will appear up to 50 per cent faster. There are shared AR experiences, so you can play augmented reality games with friends. You’ll both be able to see the same virtual objects in the real world on different iPhones.

All new messages and Memojis

Apple launched its fun Animojis last year when it revealed the iPhone X but now there’s another animated emoji joining the party and it’s a whole lot of fun. Memojis are interative characters that can be created to look like anyone you want. With a vast library of facial features, hairstyle and accessories it’s really easy to make a Memoji and once created they’ll copy your expressions using the front-facing camera on the iPhone.

These animations can then be sent to friends using the Messages app but it’s worth noting that, whilst they can be received on any device, they can only be created using Apple’s iPhone X.

Along with Memojis iOS 12 includes four new Animoji: ghost, koala, tiger, and T. rex which also now feature winks and tongue detection to capture even more expressions.

The camera in Messages can also now quickly create a memorable video or photo – with artistic filters, animated text, music, emoji or fun stickers that you can send to your friends and family.

Group Facetime

Another awesome feature is Group Facetime. Group FaceTime allows up to 32 people to join a video call at the same time. What’s clever is that as a contact begins to speak their image gets bigger on your display.

Participants can be added at any time, join later if the conversation is still active and choose to join using video or audio from an iPhone, iPad or Mac — or even participate using FaceTime audio from Apple Watch.

There’s even the ability to have some fun by adding an Animoji, Memoji, or sticker; applying a filter or text effect; or becoming an Animoji that everyone can see.

Siri Shortcuts

Apple’s voice assistant also gets an upgrade with Siri Shortcuts, letting you use voice commands to get things done in third-party, non-Apple apps.

These deliver a new, much faster, way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri. Apple’s personal assistant can then suggest an action at just the right time — whether it’s to order a coffee in the morning or start an afternoon workout.

Users can customise Shortcuts by creating a simple voice command to kick off the task or download the new Shortcuts app to create a series of actions from different apps that can be carried out with a simple tap or customised voice command

Improved Photos

If your iPhone is full of photos there will soon be a better way to find the pictures you have taken. iOS 12 includes improved search suggestions which surface the most relevant Events, People, Places, Groups, Categories and recent searches. There’s also a new functionality which lets users combine multiple search terms to find the right photos.

Along with improved search, Apple wants to make it easier to send photos to people with a new sharing suggestions feature. This instantly shows contacts who might be in the photos and friends who receive images are prompted to share back any photos and videos they have from the same trip or event.

Apple also wants to help all of our images look a little better with something called effect suggestions. This intelligently suggests Live Photos that look great with a loop or long exposure effect and it even works with Apple’s Portrait Lighting mode.

ScreenTime

Most of us will admit that we spend way too long on our smartphones. With millions of apps to discover and the endless barrage of alerts from emails and social media, it’s not hard to see why these incredible devices have become so addictive. Apple is clearly aware of this modern day issue and is hoping to help us all be more aware of our usage with something called Screen Time, which allows users to instantly check how much time they spend on their iPhones and tablets.

Screen Time will send daily or weekly Activity Reports which will show the total time spent in individual apps, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received and how often iPhone or iPad are picked up. Limits can then be set which show users when they have been on their devices for too long.

There’s also a nice feature for parents which will help them control the length of time children spend on digital devices. Limits can be set for specific apps with these then becoming disabled on the device once the time is up.

Apple is clear that they don’t want to control usage but they are giving users the tools to better manage their time on screen.

There are a few new features to help you use your phone less. Improved Do Not Disturb lets you shut off all notifications in the night automatically, and hides them from you in the morning. And Grouped Notifications lets you get rid of loads of pop-ups in one go.

Apple has also added a new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature to its Safari web browser. This will block social media ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons and comment widgets that track you across the web, usually without your permission.

How to sign up for a developer account or public beta membership

If you’re interested in becoming an Apple developer, you can visit developer.apple.com and join Apple’s Developer program. To get access to app distribution and developer betas, you’ll need to enroll in the company’s $99 year developer membership.

Developers tend to get beta software first, but that software can be unstable and bug-prone. If you only want a peek at Apple’s new software, but don’t want to take the risk of bricking your device on a developer seed, the company offers the public beta program for users.

Unlike Apple’s developer program, the Beta Software Program is free, and should offer more stable code than some developer seeds. Before you dive in though, you should note that this is an incomplete version of the operating system, with all the bugs and glitches that includes.

Users should nevertheless be cautious about installing beta code on a primary device, since it can still potentially cause issues like crashes, battery drain, or slow performance. You can sign up for the public beta by clicking the Sign Up link.

The iOS 12 beta can be downloaded as an over-the-air update. If and when you encounter issues, you should use the Feedback Assistant app that Apple includes with the beta releases of its software.

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