Apple previewed iOS 12 today, and two features stand out to me as exciting and interesting. First, a focus on performance for the many, many people using older iPhones and iPads.
The company said it is putting a particular focus on ensuring the update works smoothly on older devices. 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.
While you should always take these “faster than” claims with a grain of salt, I really do hope they’re at least partially true, because Apple is not cutting off support for any older device with iOS 12 – iOS 12 will run on every device that currently also supports iOS 11.
The second interesting feature is Shortcuts, which is effectively the amazing app Workflow that Apple acquired last year, integrated into Siri.
The update will bring new features to Apple’s Siri digital assistant as well. 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, and let developers integrate further with the assistant for certain quick actions. 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 use it to help you find your keys right from within the Siri interface. You could also assign a multistep routine to the assistant: a custom phrase like “heading home,” for instance, could prompt Siri to start up a favorite radio station, adjust your home thermostat, send a message to your spouse, and tell you how long it’ll take to reach your house.
There’s ton of other things, and there’s one other I’d like to highlight specifically: grouped notifications.
The first iOS 12 developer preview is available today, and the final version will, as always, ship this Autumn.
There are many reasons why apple are focusing on performance, i think it was a given after the number of issues that have come up with iOS 11.
However i think one of the key reasons is that generally the feeling is that companies slow phones to get you to upgrade, with the problems of iOS 11 is apple seen as the polished platform, if users are thinking of upgrading because of the slow speed are they going to pick a Samsung instead of an iPhone.
When walking/traveling i see a lot of older iPhones, people dont need a lot of features in the newer models, their current phones work well for what they need, the hardware has matured. What they need is for their current workflows to be speeded up, generally which is messaging and facbook/twitter, of course there are many apps and many uses however these are the key functions. I see iPhone 5S’s lots of 6’s because they generally work well, so a performance increase will keep these users on their iPhones, in the Apple ecosystem.
Personally i think it’s a great step to take as newer models will also feel the performance gains, this of course also should provide apple with a stable platform for iOS 13, to add newer features.
Things i would have liked to have seen is for Apple to lead by example on some of the technology they are shipping in iOS 11 and 12. They did show some of this with the measure app, however i would have liked AR to have been integrated into Apple Maps, so the directions would be overlaid onto the street for example. These of course might not switch a lot of people over to apple maps however it might have inspired google and other app developers to move in that direction.
I applaud Apple’s efforts to make sure that the latest versions of iOS work as well as they can on all the older devices that can support it. The oldest phone that will support iOS 12, the 5S has a MUCH less powerful and capable chipset in it than the current iPhone X, so to achieve a 40-70% improvement in functionality on a phone with probably 40-70% less capable hardware is truly something to be proud of.
Put this together with the fact that these older devices have batteries and internals that are aging and wearing out, however slowly the pace at which they are wearing out, this performance boost becomes even more amazing and noteworthy.
I had to chuckle when Federighi noted that the latest Verison of Android is only on 5% of devices. Evidently neither Google, nor any Android device manufacturer, is make any effort whatsoever to insure that older devices receive any benefit from, or even receive at all, new OS versions, which in comparison with Apple’s efforts, is very pitiful indeed.
Edited 2018-06-05 11:01 UTC