Apple on Wednesday announced iOS 12 will be released for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users on Sept. 17. The announcement came before Apple announced a trio of new iPhones: The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.
The update, first announced in June, focuses on performance improvements, particularly for older iOS devices. Other notable features in iOS 12 include grouped notifications, changes to Do Not Disturb, and the ability for users to program Siri to carry out a series of tasks.
Using a new Shortcuts app in iOS 12, users can link a series of tasks such as lock the front door, turn on a lamp, begin a playlist, and send a message to a loved one with a single Siri command when leaving for work, for example. And, for the first time, third-party apps can integrate with Siri through Shortcuts for tasks like ordering a cup of coffee on your commute.
Starting in iOS 12, notifications are now grouped based on the app, instead of in a never-ending chronological stream. Apple also added the ability to change whether or not an app's notifications show on the lock screen, or at all, directly from an alert.
Screen Time is also making its debut with iOS 12. The feature aims to bring attention to how much time users are spending on a particular device -- or a series of devices. Screen Time also doubles as a means for parental controls to limit which apps a child can access, and when the device can be used overall.
Also: All the new iOS 12 features you can expect TechRepublic
FaceTime was originally supposed to receive its biggest update ever, adding the ability for up to 32 people to video chat at the same time. However, during beta testing, Apple removed the feature and stated group FaceTime calls would eventually launch in a future iOS 12 update.
Another improvement coming in iOS 12 is to the Messages app is Memoji. Similar to Animoji, Memoji are limited to the iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Instead of lions or other animated objects, users can create a life-like cartoon character of him or herself. Users can then record videos or take photos using the Memoji, and send it via the Messages app.
iOS 12 is a free update, which should begin showing up on Sept. 17.
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