Apple recently unveiled a brand-new version of iOS which is packed with major features including revamped notifications, a smarter Siri, personalised emoji and group FaceTime – all coming to your iPhone later this year.

The American tech company kicked off this year’s World Wide Developers Conference with a keynote announcing new software developments at San Jose Convention Centre on 4 June.

Unlike in recent years, Apple dived straight into announcing the changes coming to iOS 12 at the start of the presentation and took everyone by surprise, as expectations had been kept very low key. iOS 12 comes with the promised stability and performance improvements that were rumoured but it also adds a range of new features to transform the way you use your iPhone.

The first thing to get excited for is that Apple is building on its ‘ARKit’ which was introduced in iOS 11 one year ago. Augmented reality will enable viewing realistic objects through your camera lens in games, the news app or during online shopping.

Apple seems to have put an emphasis on artificial intelligence in this latest iOS release as its Photos app now features smart object searches and automatic album creation, similar to Google Photo’s ‘Assistant’.

Siri also got much smarter as the new ‘Shortcuts’ feature will enable users to create their own voice commands. For example, you can set Siri to open a meditation app if you tell her ‘Help me relax.’ Siri will also continuously make suggestions on the lock screen based on your behaviour. If you order coffee every morning, Siri can order your favourite Starbucks beverage and pay for it all from the lock screen.

Perhaps the most useful new feature is the addition of grouped notifications. Whereas notifications used to clog up the lock screen with each notification having its own widget, Apple finally grouped those from the same application creating a much more productive and simple experience. This has been enjoyed by Android users for many years now.

Group FaceTime has been a long-requested feature and Apple has truly blown us away with the ability to video call up to 32 people at once. The company presented an interesting tiles system which will shift around and shrink or expand participants depending on who is talking.

Do Not Disturb also got smarter and will now wake you up with a nice greeting in the morning instead of bombarding you with all notifications at once.

This feature comes along with other tools to help you manage how much time you spend on your phone, including app timers and limitations which will lock you out of Instagram and prevent you from mindlessly scrolling for hours.

‘Animojis’ were an exclusive feature on Apple’s iPhone X, which allow you to 3D map your face onto different animals. In iOS 12, iPhone X users can create their own  ‘Memoji’ in their likeness and send them via iMessage.

The News app has finally made it to iPads too and receives a major redesign thanks to iOS 12, making it easier to keep up with the newest stories in a personalised feed.

Other apps such as Stocks, Voice Memos and iBooks (now called Apple Books) are also redesigned, with improvements in terms of usability. CarPlay also supports third-party navigation apps now.

The developer beta for iOS 12 is already out and being tested. This will be followed up by a public beta in a couple of weeks for anyone to download.

The final release of iOS 12 can be expected around mid- to late- September 2018.

Images courtesy of Apple Inc.

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