100+ Coolest iOS 12 Features You Need to Know

BY Gautam Prabhu

Published 17 Sep 2018

Coolest iOS 12 Features

Apple has finally delivered on features we’ve had on our wishlist for almost a decade now. Grouped notifications? Yes. Granular Do Not Disturb controls? Don’t mind if I do. Group FaceTime? Finally, but will be available later this fall. iOS 12 is a performance upgrade. It’s made up of many little features that add up to a really delightful experience.

Here’s the complete list of all the new and hidden iOS 12 features available for your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Let’s dive in:


1. Better Performance for Older Devices

Apple is working hard to bring the new iOS 12 features to every phone that supported iOS 11. This goes back to the iPhone 5s! And this time Apple is actually tweaking CPU performance bursts so older devices get the right CPU power at the right time. On an iPhone 6, apps launch 40% faster, the keyboard comes up 50% faster and camera opens 70% faster.

iOS 12 Photos Feature

2. New For You Tab in Photos

iOS 12 Photos App For You Tab

This new tab is the new single place for your Memories, Shared albums, and for intelligent suggestions from Siri. This is where you’ll find effect suggestions, featured photos and more.

3. Sharing Suggestions

iOS 12 Photos App Sharing

Similar to Google Photos, you’ll be able to share a group of photos with your friends easily. Photos app will identify events and places and will suggest you share an album with other people. It will recognize people using face recognition. Once shared, your friends will get a popup to share photos back.

4. Search Suggestions

iOS 12 Search Page

Intelligent search suggestions will give you quick suggestions for events, people, places, and dates when you start searching.

5. Places and Event Search

You’ll be able to quickly search photos based on where you took them. Specific and generic terms will both work. Similarly, you’ll be able to search for events as well. Search now supports multiple keywords.

6. RAW Photo Support

You can now import and manage RAW photos right on your iPhone and iPad! If you’ve got an iPad Pro, you can edit them as well.

7. Improved camera import

Improved camera import with faster performance and a new large preview mode.

8. New Media Types section in Photos

iOS 12 Photos Media Types

Trying to find the album for Screenshots or Portraits? There’s a new section in the Albums tab dedicated to sorting images by media types.

9. Share Photos Using iCloud Link

iOS 12 Share Photos using Link

iCloud Photo Library users can now instantly generate a link for any photo or album in iOS 12. You can share the link with anyone on the web and they’ll be able to download the photos. Select the photos, hit the Share button and select Copy Link. Tap on the Stop Sharing option from the menu to disable the sharing.

iOS 12 Camera Features

10. Portrait Lighting Gets Better

A much-needed change, the Portrait Lighting is getting an upgrade in iOS 12. The camera app now generates a mask when it detects a person and intelligently and elegantly separates the person from the scene. The biggest problem with Portrait Lighting was the bad edge detection with faces. This should help with that.

11. Highlighted QR Codes

QR Codes are now highlighted once they’re recognized in the Camera app, making them easier to scan.

12. Portrait Segmentation API

A new API for third-party developers allows for the separation of layers in a photo, such as separating the background from the foreground.

iOS 12 Messages Features

13. New Animoji

iOS 12 New Animojis

There are four new Animojis: Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and Trex.

14. Tongue Detection in Animoji

You can now stick your tongue out no matter which emoji you’re using. There’s also wink detection.

15. Memoji

iOS 12 Memoji in Camera View 2

You can now create your own Animoji character. If you’ve ever used Bitmoji, this is similar to that feature, but in 3D space. You can choose from a diverse set of options of skin color, hair, eye color and more to create an Animoji character that closely resembles the real you.

Read moreHow to Create and Use Memoji on iOS 12

16. Camera Effects

iOS 12 Memoji 4

When you open the camera from the Messages app, you’ll see a little Effects icon in the bottom-left. Here, you’ll be able to add a filter, any sticker, Animoji or Memoji. This is a really cool way to send fun photos and videos in iMessages, especially when you’re getting Memoji in the camera view, live.

17. Animoji Recording Time Increased

Animoji recordings can now capture up to 30 seconds from 10 seconds.

18. FaceTime Integration in Messages

You can start a FaceTime call from a group thread in Messages. People can join in from the link in Messages and leave when they want.

Screen Time

19. Screen Time

iOS 12 Screen Time

The Screen Time feature will give you a detailed report of how you’re spending your time on your device. This includes which app you’re using, for how much, how many times you’re picking up your phone, in what context and so on. The detailed are synced with your iPhone and iPad. You’ll also get a weekly summary of your habits.

This feature will give you an insight into how you’re using your device.

Read moreHow to Use Screen Time and App Limits in iOS 12 To Reduce Distractions

20. App Limits and Downtime

iOS 12 App Limits Ignore Limit Options

Once you know how much time an app is taking up, you can set limits for using particular apps. You’ll get a notification when your time is almost up. And when it’s up, you’ll see a splash screen instead of the app. You can ignore the limit and iOS will give you a bit more time before bugging you again.

Downtime is the nuclear option. Once you enable the feature on a schedule, it will automatically lock you out of almost all apps on your iPhone. Only essential apps like Phone will be available. This is a great way to disable access to addicting apps at night.

21. Parental Controls with App Limits

The App Limits feature is integrated with Family Sharing. So a parental device can set app usage limits for a kid’s device. Parents can set an allowance for time to be used in general or specifically on a category of apps. Parents can set limits for age-appropriate content as well.

iOS 12 ‘Do Not Disturb’ Features

22. Do Not Disturb During Bedtime

When you’re using Do Not Disturb at night, it will no longer light up the screen when you get a notification. All you’ll see is a dark lock screen when you tap on the screen. In the morning, notifications will still be hidden. You can tap on the screen to view them when you’re ready.

23. Control Center Shortcut for Do Not Disturb

iOS 12 Do Not Disturb Options

You can now 3D Touch the Control Center shortcut for Do Not Disturb to set customized DND session at any given time. You can turn it on for just an hour if you wish. If you’ve got a calendar appointment, you can do put your phone in DND mode just for this meeting.

Read moreHow to Use Enhanced Do Not Disturb Mode in iOS 12

24. Turn Off Do Not Disturb

iOS 12 now provides you the option to turn off Do Not Disturb after a set time, location or calendar event.

iOS 12 Notifications Features

25. Grouped Notifications

iOS 12 Grouped Notifications

Apple is finally giving us an overhauled notification system and it starts with something we’ve wanted for a long time: grouped notifications! Apple will group notifications not just by apps but by threads, conversations, and context as well! You can tap on a group to view all the notifications in it.

Read moreHow to Use and Customize Group Notifications in iOS 12

26. Instant Tuning

iOS 12 Notifications Manage Settings

Now, you can manage notification settings for an app right from the notification view thanks to iOS 12’s Instant Tuning feature. You can turn off notifications for an app, hide it from Lock Screen and more without going to Settings. If you’re not using an app or interacting with a notification, Siri will even suggest that you turn off notifications for the app.

Read moreHow to Temporarily Disable Lock Screen Notifications for Apps in iOS 12

27. Deliver Quietly

The new Deliver Quietly option silently sends notifications directly to Notification Center without interrupting you. You can enable Deliver Quietly option for an app by swiping left on the Notification, and tapping on Manage.

Read more: How to Use Deliver Quietly Feature on your iPhone

iOS 12 Siri Features

28. Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts is one of the most exciting new iOS 12 features. It allows you to set up a custom chain of commands which they can trigger quickly using Siri.

29. Siri Suggestions

Siri Suggestions are now spread across the OS. As Siri learns your routine, Siri will suggest you shortcuts for things you need to do at the right time. This can be on the Lock Screen or in the search. If you find the feature too annoying, you can turn it off as well.

30. New Siri Shortcuts App

Apple has integrated the Workflow app right inside iOS now. It’s called Shortcuts and it’s tied with Siri. The UI for creating a shortcut is very similar to Workflow. You can create a shortcut with multiple steps. Actions that happen one after the other. The cool thing is that you can give it a name, call on it from Siri and Siri will perform all of those actions for you!

Read moreSiri Shortcuts in iOS 12: Everything You Need to Know

31. New Shortcuts section in Siri  Settings

iOS 12 Add to Siri Shortcuts

There’s a new Shortcuts section in Siri & Search which will prompt you to create a shortcut for an action. It can be messaging someone on a specific platform, opening a page in Safari or anything else. The great part is that you can record a specific phrase that will make Siri do the action.

32. Add to Siri

iOS 12 Add to Siri Shortcuts

Siri is opening up to third-party apps via a new SiriKit API! Using an Add to Siri button, third-party apps will be able to expose certain functionality to Siri. You can then run it from Siri on any of your devices, including the HomePod.

Read moreHow to Use Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12

33. Better Translation

Translation with Siri now works with over 40 language pairs. Previously it was limited to only a handful of languages.

34. New Knowledge Areas for Siri

Siri is now much smarter about a lot of things. Siri will answer questions about Motorsports. You can also search for Photos Memories and passwords using Siri. You can now ask Siri for motorsports results, schedules, stats and standings for Formula 1, Nascar, Indy 500 and MotoGP.

35. Check Facts

You can check facts about celebrities, such as when they were born etc. You can also ask questions about food, including calories and nutrient content.

36. More Natural And Expressive Voice

The more natural and expressive voice improvements is now available in Irish English, South African English, Danish, Norwegian, Cantonese and Mandarin (Taiwan).

37. New Siri Voice Works With Text to Speech

The new Siri voice now works when you’re using the Speak Selection feature.

38. New Siri Phrases

Siri now works with phrases like “where is my phone”, “where is my watch”, “turn on flashlight” and “turn off flashlight”.

iOS 12 Augmented Reality Features

39. ARKit 2.0

The new version of ARKit comes with better 3D object recognition, better face tracking, scene reflection and more.

40. Multi-User AR

Multiple devices can now share a single AR experience. You can now play a single AR game with your friends!

41. A new AR File Format

Apple is making it really easy to create and share 3D objects in AR. To make it easier to share objects, Apple has created a new file format called USDZ. This will make it easy to preview objects in AR and to share it using Mail, Messages or even in a browser.

42. Persistence

Persistence enables developers to save and reload experiences right from where you left off.

43. Object Detection

Object detection and image tracking gives developers new tools to recognize real world objects and track images while they move through space.

44. AR Quick Look

AR Quick Look extends AR throughout iOS, letting you view AR objects with built-in apps like News, Safari, and Files and share them with friends with iMessage and Mail.


45. New Measure Augmented Reality App

iOS 12 Measure App 1

The New Measure app lets you measure flat rectangle surfaces simply by drawing a line on the live camera view. The awesome feature about this app is that if you simply point your camera at an object, it will detect the edges automatically and will count the distance on its own as well!

It also allows you to capture, share and markup screenshots of your measurements.

Read moreHow to Use The New Measure App in iOS 12

46. Group FaceTime

FaceTime Group Calls 1

FaceTime is finally getting a huge upgrade. FaceTime has a new design and you can now do group calls for upto 32 people! People show up in floating tiles and when they speak, their tiles become bigger and more prominent. Apple has announced that this feature will be available later this fall, so it won’t be available at launch.

Read moreFaceTime Group Call in iOS 12: Everything You Need to Know

47. Apple Maps

iOS 12 also includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app which is powered by Apple’s new Maps engine, which will display foliage, pools, buildings, pedestrian pathways, and other map elements more accurately. The new Maps also includes significant improvements to traffic, real-time road conditions, construction, and more. The updated Maps app is available only for Northern California area. Apple plans to roll out the new maps for other U.S. locations after iOS 12 is released.

iOS 12 Privacy and Security Features

48. Enhanced Tracking Prevention

Apple is building on the feature from iOS 12. Now, iOS blocks share buttons and comment widgets from tracking you without your permission. Safari also prevents advertisers from collecting your device’s unique settings, so they can’t retarget ads to you across the web.

49. Suppresses Ad Retargeting

Apple continues to prevent ad networks for targeting users. iOS 12 suppresses ad retargeting by reducing advertisers’ ability to identify iOS devices uniquely.

50. Better Password Management

iOS will now help you suggest stronger and unique passwords and you’ll be reminded when you reuse the same password again.

51. Reused Passwords Flagged

Reused passwords are flagged in Settings > Passwords & Accounts.

52. Easily Share Passwords

iOS 12 Share Password AirDrop Featured

You can now easily share passwords with nearby iOS devices. This works from iOS to Mac and iOS to Apple TV as well (which will be a huge help when setting up a new Apple TV). Password sharing takes place using AirDrop and it happens securely. The login details are added to the receiving device’s iCloud Keychain directly (the clipboard isn’t involved in the process).

Read moreHow to Share Passwords Using AirDrop in iOS 12

53. New Autofill Passwords API

If third-party developers choose to integrate it, they’ll be able to access the iOS autofill functionality natively! No need to use an extension or switch between apps to use something like 1Password to fill in your passwords.

54. OTP Autofill

iOS 12 OTP SMS Autofil in QuickType Keyboard

This new feature is going to be a game changer for people who use Two Factor Authentication. iOS will now automatically fill in one-time passcodes received over SMS. No need to copy and paste or remember 6 digit codes.

55. Siri & Passwords

Siri supports quickly navigating to a password on an authenticated device.

Apple Books

56. New Apple Books app

iBooks has been renamed and has a whole new design now. It starts off with a Reading Now section which gives you a preview of what you’re reading. The app also has a redesigned ebook and audiobooks store with a design similar to the App Store.

57. Reading Now

Reading Now makes it simple to get back to the book you’re currently reading or find great recommendations for what to read next.

58. Want to Read

Add books to the new Want to Read collection to keep track of what you’d like to read next.

59. Book Store

The Book Store makes it easy to find your next favorite read with new and popular selections from our Apple Books editors and recommendations chosen just for you.

60. Audiobooks Store

The new Audiobooks store helps you find immersive stories and informative nonfiction books narrated by your favorite authors, actors, and celebrities.

Apple Music

61. Search Songs using Lyrics

Search now supports lyrics so you can use a few of the words to find a song.

62. Redesigned Artist Pages

Artist pages have an easier to browse with a personalized station of any artist’s music.

63. New Play Button for Artists in Apple Music

Now, Artists page gets a new Play button in the banner section. Tapping it will start a random song from the artist.

64. Friends Mix

The new Friends Mix is a playlist of songs you’ll love from everything your friends are listening to.

65. Daily Top 100 Songs

New charts to show you the daily top 100 songs in countries around the world.

Apple News

66. Redesigned Apple News App

It’s easier to navigate the news feed now. Just swipe down to jump to your favorite topic or channels.

67. New Sidebar for iPad

On the iPad you can do all that from the new sidebar which make it easy to jump straight to your favorite publications and discover new ones.


68. New Stocks App

The redesigned Stocks app gives you more information about the market at a glance. Along with the prices, you’ll be able to see color-coded sparklines as well in the Watchlist feature.

Top Stories Section

There are interactive charts plus Apple News integration. You’ll get the latest stories about the market which you can read right inside Stocks app in the Top Stories section.

69. Stocks App on iPad

Stocks App is now on the iPad as well. It has a sidebar where you can see all the stock prices.

Voice Memos

70. New Voice Memos App

iOS 12 New Voice Memos App

Voice Memos also gets a redesign and it’s also available on the iPad now. The design brings it to the level of other iOS 10 style apps, with big headers. There’s a new UI for trimming and editing voice notes as well.

71. Automatically Clear Deleted Voice Memos

iOS 12 Voice Memos Clear Recently Deleted 3

Voice Memos doesn’t erase the notes you delete. Instead, they end up in the Recently Deleted folder. You can enable an option from Settings -> Voice Memos -> Clear Deleted to automatically delete voice notes after 7 days, 30 days or immediately.

72. iCloud Syncing

iCloud keeps your recordings and edits in sync across all of your iOS devices.

73. New Voice Memos Settings

iOS 12 Voice Memos Settings

From the Voice Memos section in the Settings app, you can choose the audio compression quality, change the default recording name and even delete old notes automatically after 30 days (or never).

74. Improved iPad Support

Available on iPad with support for both portrait and landscape orientation.

Apple Podcasts

75. Chapters in Podcasts

iOS 12 Podcasts Chapter Markers

In the Now Playing screen, swipe up and you’ll find a new section for Chapters. Tap on the Show button next to the title to expand. From the list, tap on a chapter to switch to it.

76. Skip Customization

Podcasts app now lets you customize skip seconds between 10 and 60 seconds interval.

77. Headphones Support

The Podcasts app also supports forward and backward seek when using Bluetooth (headphones and in the car).

78. Listen Now

You can now easily manage new episode notifications from the Listen Now screen.

Other Features and Improvements

79. Automatic Updates

iOS 12 Automatic Updates

Apple is taking a page from the Microsoft playbook here. There’s a new option in Software Update section called Automatic Updates. Thankfully this feature is turned off by default but if you want to install all updates automatically, you can choose to turn this on.

80. Critical Alerts

There’s a new type of opt-in notification created for critical information, like reports for healthcare providers, that you will receive even when you have Do Not Disturb turned on.

81. Easily Quit Apps on iPhone X

iOS 12 iPhone X Quitting Apps

On iOS 11, quitting an app on iPhone X required a tap and hold action. Now you don’t need to do that anymore! Enter multitasking and just swipe up to force quit an app on iOS 12!

Read moreHow to Kill or Force Quit Apps on iPhone X

82. Safari Tabs in iPhone X Landscape View

iOS 12 Safari Tabs Landscape with Icons

Now in Landscape view, Safari will show tabs on top of the screen. A nice addition that should have been there from day one.

83. iPhone X Gestures on the iPad

Swiping down from the top-right corner on the iPad will bring down Control Center. And by swiping anywhere on the Dock you can quickly go back to the Home screen. While this is not exactly like the iPhone X, it’s close enough that it won’t lead to frustrations when switching between the two devices.

iOS 12 also gets iPhone X style app switching gestures. Flick left or right from the bottom of the screen to access the most recent apps. Check out the link below for a breakdown of all new gestures on iPad.

Read moreiOS 12 Hands-on: iPhone X-like Gestures for iPad

84. QR Code Control

There’s a new default control added in Control Center. It’s a shortcut to quickly open the camera and scan for a QR code.

85. Show Icons in Tabs for Safari

iOS 12 Safari Tabs

If you enable this feature from Safari settings, you’ll now see icons for web pages in the tab view and in landscape mode.

Read moreHow to Add Favicons to Safari in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

86. Battery Statistics in Battery Settings

iOS 12 Battery Draining Apps 3

There’s a new battery statistics chart in Battery settings. You’ll see battery level and usage time in one graph! The data now goes back as far as 10 days. Plus, the bars in the graph are interactive. Tap on a section in the graph to see a breakdown of the battery usage for the corresponding hours.

87. Support for 2 Faces in Face ID

With iOS 12, Apple has added an option to register your alternative appearance.

Apple says this option can come in handy if Face ID fails to recognize you when you wear hats or sunglasses. In such cases, you can register your different appearance so that Face ID is able to recognize you easily. As it turns out though, you can use this option to register a completely different face and it would work just fine to unlock your iPhone X.

88. Swipe Up To Retry Face ID

In iOS 12, you can swipe up again to retry a Face ID authentication when it fails. In dark, this is a really helpful feature.

89. Now Playing Widget In Dark Mode

The Now Playing widget on Lock Screen and in Notification Center is now dark.

90. New Interface for Trophies in Activity App

iOS 12 Activity Awards Screen

The achievements section in Activity app gets a whole new interface.

91. Markup Feature Gets More Color Options

iOS 12 Markup Color Picker

The Markup feature for screenshots and image editing has a color picker for the pen tool. Instead of 6 colors previously, you now have access to an array of colors.

92. Virtual Trackpad for Every iPhone and iPad

iOS 12 Virtual Trackpad iPhone and iPad 2

iOS 12 brings the 3D Touch virtual trackpad feature for everyone. Just tap and hold the Spacebar to turn the keyboard into a trackpad. Then just slide your finger around to move the cursor. Tap with another finger to enter the text selection mode.

Read moreHow to Use Virtual Trackpad on iPhone and iPad Running iOS 12

93. Unlock Hidden Lock Screen Weather Widget

iOS 12 Do Not Disturb Weather Widget

If you’re using Do Not Disturb During Bedtime, you can access a whole new weather widget when you wake up. You need to turn on Location Services for Weather first. Check out the link below for detailed instructions.

Read moreHow to Get the Hidden Weather Lock Screen Widget on iPhone in iOS 12

94. Use The New Thesaurus

iOS 12 Thesaurus 1

You can now add Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus to the Dictionary section in Look Up. Check out the link below for instructions.

Read moreHow to Enable and Use the New Thesaurus on iPhone and iPad in iOS 12

95. TV app Notifications

Get notified when movies and TV shows are available to watch in Up Next

96. Share Favorites

Share your favorite movies, TV shows, and sporting events with universal links

Weather app

97. Air Quality Index

Weather app now tracks the air quality index in cities like Frankfurt. The “Air Quality Index” figure for the detected location is seen when you scroll down to the bottom of the day’s weather report. It doesn’t seem to be available for all locations. (via Wikipedia)

iOS 12 - Air Quality Index

98. USB Restricted Mode

Apple has introduced a new security feature in iOS 12 which requires a password to allow USB access when the phone has been inactive for an hour or more. This is an evolution of the “USB Restricted Mode” feature that Apple was working on with iOS 11.4, and it’s relieving to see the feature making its way to iOS 12.

99. AirPods’ Live Listen

iOS 12 has a new, seemingly simple accessibility feature with a huge potential. It’s called Live Listen. It makes an audio bridge between your iPhone’s microphone and the AirPods. This means that you can directly route the audio that iPhone’s microphone picks up to the AirPods that are in your ears. It’s designed to help users with a low hearing but you can use it in many different circumstances.

Read: How To Use AirPods’ Live Listen Feature in iOS 12

100. Reachability

If you remember the feature still exists, and use it, then you can now scroll up to switch out of the Reachability feature. Apple has added an arrow to indicate it.

101. New Dictionaries

iOS 12 includes three new language dictionaries: an Arabic and English bilingual dictionary, a Hindi and English bilingual dictionary, and a Hebrew dictionary.

102. Third-party Navigation apps in CarPlay

You can finally use third-party navigation apps like Google Maps, Waze in CarPlay.

iOS 12 Features Video

Check out the hands-on video with some of the major iOS 12 features in the video below compiled by our friend Cody Crouch (iTwe4kz):

And More

We’re constantly updating this list as we discover new iOS 12 features. Let us know if we have missed any feature (and give you a shoutout).

Editorial note: Khamosh Pathak has also contributed to this article.