New iOS 12 Features for Your iPhone

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

iOS12 is packed with great new features. Some apps (such as Siri) have gotten a little smarter, while other features are brand spankin’ new! With the emergence of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), it’s no surprise that the latest iPhones are sporting new features that leverage these technologies.

Augmented reality on the iPhone

Apple started pushing out ARKit software for developers to exploit the technology known as augmented reality, AR for short. AR essentially layers digital objects and characters over the real world, as was the case with the wildly popular Pokémon Go game. Other games and apps also take advantage, including apps that let you display digital representations of constellations and planets above the actual sky, ones that let you check out what a prospective new couch will look like in your den, and even apps that can paint a virtual tattoo on your body.

The Measure app which read about below is an example that came with iOS 12. You can only imagine other scenarios in which the use of your camera and video will play a vital part. Try searching the App Store for AR apps.

Measuring things with your iPhone

The iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max models are the best iPhones to exploit AR (augmented reality), which layers digital objects on top of the real world. Apple is helping to spread AR in the software development community through ARKit. To check out AR, go to the Utilities folder and open the Measure app, which was added with iOS 12.

The app lets you measure objects by drawing virtual lines in free space and includes a level tool, which is in the Compass app on older iOS versions. If you’ve ever tried making sure the picture you’re hanging on a wall is straight, you know how invaluable a level can be.

To get started inside the Measure app, move the phone around so that a small white dot in a larger circle appears on your phone’s display, at the edge of whatever it is you’re measuring. Tap +, then drag the virtual line down to the end point of what you’re measuring, and tap + again. You see the listed measurement on top of the virtual line you’ve drawn, shown either in the imperial or metric system (depending on your selection in Settings). You can also snap a picture of the virtual line or tap Clear to start over.

Siri shortcuts in iOS 12

As part of iOS 12, Apple added the potentially helpful Siri Shortcuts feature, whereby Siri can automatically figure out common tasks that may be useful to you or that leverage your calendar or location. You can summon shortcuts by voice, but not always. Buy coffee every morning on the way to the office, for example, and Siri may surface a shortcut on your Lock screen.

You can also create your own shortcuts for those things you do frequently, such as revealing the number of steps you take in the Health app or checking the status of your stocks. The new Shortcuts app is based on Workflow, an app Apple purchased in 2017.

The app is divided into two sections. The Library section houses the shortcuts you’ve created and a button to create new ones. The Gallery section includes premade shortcuts and widgets, from a Speed Dial widget to a Laundry Timer that reminds you when your load is done.

Creating your own shortcut involves adding actions found in the app. Say you want to add a shortcut for a workout. One of the available actions you can choose is Log Workout. You must also allow access to the Health app, set a name for the shortcut (such as Workout), and so on. In this example, you can turn on health data categories in the Health app. As a final step, you can record a word or phrase in the Shortcuts app to instruct Siri to kick the shortcut into gear.

Emergency SOS

You can summon emergency assistance by rapidly clicking the sleep/health button five times in succession. Turn on the Auto Call switch to enable the feature. Inside this setting, you can also initiate the process of setting up emergency contacts in the Health app.

With the arrival of iOS 12, people who call 911 using an iPhone will share their location automatically with first responders. No need to worry about privacy. Only the responding 911 center will be able to access your location during a 911 call.

Screen Time on the iPhone

iOS 12 introduces a new way to self-regulate your iPhone usage. This new iOS 12 feature, cleverly dubbed Screen Time, gives you a report of how much time you spend with your iPhone. Let’s face it—most of us could use a little less device time. Screen Time is the feature that helps you track exactly that.

Screen Time lets you set Downtime, app limits, and other restrictions to help keep your electronic usage in check.