Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Epsode #282

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) took place last week in San Jose, CA. While the bulk of the conference is under non-disclosure and takes place behind doors closed to the media and the general public, the media is invited to the opening keynote, which is streamed live to anyone who wishes to watch.

Tim Cook at WWDC 2018

Tim Cook at WWDC 2018

You can watch a replay of the keynote, but if you don’t have 2 hours and 16 minutes to spare, I’ve prepared a quick summary of the most significant things that were announced and my thoughts on them.

Since all of Apple’s operating systems—macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS—are being updated, I’ll address them one at a time. And, because iOS had the most (and most interesting) new stuff, at least for me, I’ll start with it today, and follow up with the other OSes in next week’s column.

iOS 12: Wicked Fast

The next iteration of iOS is iOS 12. The biggest deal to me was that this release focuses primarily on performance, which is expected to double the speed of common tasks such as launching apps or summoning the keyboard. How can you not love “twice as fast?”

The two most significant additions beyond performance improvements, at least in my humble opinion, are Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts.

Screen Time keeps track of how much time you (or your children) spend using specific apps and websites and lets you set time limits for individual apps, or schedule “downtime” away from the screen. There are also myriad new privacy and content blocking controls, along with lists, categories, and charts that make it easier to understand how much time you spent and what you were doing.

If you’ve got kids, or you’re a fan of Mac usage-tracking apps such as RescueTime or Timing, I predict you’ll love Screen Time on your iOS devices.

The other big new feature in iOS 12 may be the coolest of them all. It’s called Siri Shortcuts and it lets you create and run shortcuts that involve third-party apps. The new companion app, Shortcuts, appears to be based on the excellent Workflow app Apple acquired last year.

But, Wait—There’s More!

Other new features include Group FaceTime chats with up to 32 people at once; improved Augmented Reality (AR) experiences; a new AR app called Measure that measures physical objects with your device’s camera; new camera effects; enhancements and improvements to Do Not Disturb, Notifications, and Photos; new privacy options in Safari; more information on battery usage; plus four new Animoji and the ability to create your own custom Animoji, dubbed “Memoji” (on iPhone X only).

iOS 12 will be available this fall as a free update for iPhone 5s and later; all iPad Air and Pro models; iPad 5th and 6th generation; iPad mini 2 and later; and iPod touch 6th generation.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Nice summary, Bob. Now that my kids are technically adults (with emphasis on the word, ‘technically’) they won’t be a primary driver of my enjoying Screen Time. The two features I am looking forward to, apart from the speed and the app feature parity with iOS for the iPhone, include Siri shortcuts and group FaceTime chats. The latter may be a game changer for teleconferences with colleagues who own iOS devices when Skype goes buggy and not everyone has apps like Go-To-Meeting. I was underwhelmed by the personalised Memoji (didn’t look that much like HairForce One during the demo, although… Read more »