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Posts tagged with "iOS 12"

Apple Removes iOS 12 Beta 7 Over-the-Air Update

Close on the heels of reports that Apple had pulled Group FaceTime from iOS 12 beta 7, complaints about the beta’s sluggish performance began to surface. One of the first was from Guilherme Rambo who posted a short video on Twitter demonstrating how slowly the App Store app launched under the beta:

Rambo also predicted Apple might remove the beta, which it did a short time later:

The latest iOS 12 beta is no longer available as an over-the-air update via the Software Update section of the iOS Settings app. However, IPSW files for the beta, which can be installed via iTunes on a Mac, are still available from Apple’s developer portal. In light of the issues reported with the beta 7, if you haven't already installed beta 7, it’s probably best to not download and install the IPSW files, until a more reliable version is released.

Group FaceTime Pulled from Initial iOS 12 Release

Apple has removed Group FaceTime chat from the latest iOS 12 developer beta. The feature, which was debuted at WWDC and described as being able to handle up to 32 simultaneous users will come later this fall according to Apple’s beta release notes:

Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12 and will ship in a future software update later this fall.

This delay isn’t the first time that a feature announced at WWDC has been moved to a later point release of a major iOS update. Last year, AirPlay 2, Messages in iCloud, and Apple Pay Cash all missed the initial release of iOS 11.

I’m not surprised Group FaceTime needs more time. I haven’t used it extensively, but in a late July test with four participants, it was clear that it had a long way to go before it was ready for release.

Apple Books: A Love Letter to Readers

When iOS 12 launches this fall, it will introduce a newly redesigned iBooks app simply named Books. Though the reading experience in Books is largely the same as before, the rest of the app is drastically different, offering the biggest app redesign on iOS since last year's App Store.

Modern design is a clear centerpiece of Books, but the app also includes new features, big and small, that make it feel all-new. From tools that borrow from Goodreads, to more robust collections, to dark mode, and much more. There's a lot to explore here, so let's dive in.

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Fun new project by iOS developer extraordinaire Guilherme RamboSharecuts is a (so far, beta and invitation-only) directory to browse and install custom shortcuts created by other users. Sarah Perez has more details at TechCrunch:

But by the time iOS 12 releases to the public later this fall, Sharecuts’ directory will be filled out and a lot more functional.

The premise, explains Sharecuts’ creator Guilherme Rambo, was to make an easily accessible place where people could share their shortcuts with one another, discover those others have shared, and suggest improvements to existing shortcuts.

“I was talking to a friend [Patrick Balestra] about how cool shortcuts are, and how it should be easier for people to share and discover shortcuts,” says Guilherme. “He mentioned he wanted to build a website for that – he even had the idea for the name Sharecuts – but he was on vacation without a good internet connection so I decided to just build it myself in one day,” he says.

The site is currently a bare bones, black-and-white page with cards for each shortcut, but an update will bring a more colorful style (see below) and features that will allow users to filter the shortcuts by tags, vote on favorites, among other things.

This isn't the first time users have tried to launch curated directories for workflows (there were a bunch for the old Workflow app), but I think projects like this are going to be especially important given the lack of an official public directory for Shortcuts; the gallery built into the Shortcuts app is managed by Apple and doesn't accept user submissions. For now, Sharecuts works by uploading plain .shortcut files to the service, but I'm hoping that, once Apple brings back link-based sharing, you'll be able to just paste a link to a shortcut you've created. In the meantime, you can find a couple of shortcuts I've shared here and here.


iOS 12 AR Quick Look Demos

I recently came across a demo of AR Quick Look, an iOS 12 feature that allows apps to present 3D and AR previews for objects built using the new USDZ file format. Shopify, the popular e-commerce platform, is going to take advantage of AR Quick Look to let customers preview items in their surroundings directly from Safari, contextually to the shopping experience.

Here's Daniel Beauchamp, writing on the Shopify AR/VR blog:

For the past three years, Shopify has been exploring how AR / VR will change the way consumers shop. Last year, we showed how Apple’s ARKit could be used to provide compelling AR commerce experiences. The main complexity was that ARKit needed to be run in an app. This meant that Shopify merchants looking to offer these experiences had to have their own unique mobile apps that customers would need to download.

With iOS 12’s AR Quick Look, 3D models of products in the usdz file format can be uploaded directly to online Shopify stores and viewed in AR right within Safari, without needing to download a separate app.

His video gives you an even better idea of the integration possible between Safari, ARKit, and Apple Pay in iOS 12:

Beauchamp argues that "the web is how AR becomes mainstream" – looking at these demos, it's hard to disagree. Not having to install a dedicated ARKit app for every single online store we use and actually having the ability to share and preview models from Safari or Messages is going to remove a ton of friction from the current ARKit experience (as far as shopping is concerned). I can imagine that producing 3D objects at scale will be merchants' biggest hurdle in the short term, though.

I wasn't aware of this until I did some research, but Apple also launched an interactive AR Quick Look Gallery as part of their ARKit 2 mini-site. You can also test Shopify's improved shopping flow featuring ARKit and Apple Pay here.


Shortcuts App Beta Arriving through TestFlight Soon

Today Apple updated the download page of its developer website with an option to request access to the TestFlight beta version of iOS 12's Shortcuts app. This was first discovered by Steve Troughton-Smith:

The release notes for beta 1 of Shortcuts confirm that Workflow users who install the new beta will have their existing workflows imported into Shortcuts, as Federico previously noted.

Up until now, the Shortcuts app has made no appearance in existing iOS 12 beta releases. This was unsurprising because Shortcuts is going to be released as an App Store download, but it was unclear whether beta testers would be given the chance to gain access to the Shortcuts app before its public release. Fortunately, if you're an Apple developer, the answer is officially yes.


Apple is Rebooting Its Maps App with Rebuilt Map Data

Source: TechCrunch

Source: TechCrunch

Next week, Apple will begin rolling out new map data as part of the iOS 12 beta. The company, which provided an extensive preview to Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch, has been rebuilding its map data from the ground up, relying on its own data collection instead of third-party providers.

As a part of the preview, Panzarino interviewed Senior Vice President, Eddy Cue, Vice President Patrice Gautier, and ‘over a dozen’ members of the Apple Maps team. According to Cue, the process of rebuilding Maps began four years ago. Cue told TechCrunch that instead of relying on a patchwork of data sources from third-party vendors, Apple decided to leverage a combination of sources in its control, including the millions of iOS devices in service around the globe:

“We felt like because the shift to devices had happened — building a map today in the way that we were traditionally doing it, the way that it was being done — we could improve things significantly, and improve them in different ways,” he says. “One is more accuracy. Two is being able to update the map faster based on the data and the things that we’re seeing, as opposed to driving again or getting the information where the customer’s proactively telling us. What if we could actually see it before all of those things?”

So, Apple began collecting map data in 2015 from a combination of dedicated Apple Maps vans, high-resolution satellite imagery, and what Apple calls probe data from iOS devices, all supplemented by hundreds of human editors. Panzarino, who took a ride in one of the Apple Maps vans, describes the tech they use:

In addition to a beefed up GPS rig on the roof, four LiDAR arrays mounted at the corners and 8 cameras shooting overlapping high-resolution images – there’s also the standard physical measuring tool attached to a rear wheel that allows for precise tracking of distance and image capture. In the rear there is a surprising lack of bulky equipment. Instead, it’s a straightforward Mac Pro bolted to the floor, attached to an array of solid state drives for storage. A single USB cable routes up to the dashboard where the actual mapping capture software runs on an iPad.

He also describes the probe data as:

Essentially little slices of vector data that represent direction and speed transmitted back to Apple completely anonymized with no way to tie it to a specific user or even any given trip. It’s reaching in and sipping a tiny amount of data from millions of users instead, giving it a holistic, real-time picture without compromising user privacy.

Throughout the TechCrunch piece, Apple emphasizes that data is being collected with privacy in mind using techniques like route segmentation and data anonymization. Cue told Panzarino:

“We specifically don’t collect data, even from point A to point B,” notes Cue. “We collect data — when we do it —in an anonymous fashion, in subsections of the whole, so we couldn’t even say that there is a person that went from point A to point B. We’re collecting the segments of it. As you can imagine, that’s always been a key part of doing this. Honestly, we don’t think it buys us anything [to collect more]. We’re not losing any features or capabilities by doing this.”

The new map data is being rolled out in the US first. Apple says that data will be seamlessly integrated with existing map data beginning with the next beta release of iOS 12, which is scheduled for next week. The first region to get a refresh will be Northern California, with new areas added throughout the US over the course of about a year.

The result should be more accurate, frequently updated maps that do a better job reflecting points of interests, topography highlights, and other details that aren’t present in Apple Maps today. Judging from the screenshots in Panzarino’s article, the changes should be noticeable and useful, though the design of the app itself is not changing during the rollout of the new data.


iOS 12 Beta: Our Favorite Tidbits and Hidden Features (So Far)

Apple released the first public beta of iOS 12 today, allowing non-developer testers to check out the new features and improvements in the next major version of iOS, set to be released sometime in the fall. While it's always good practice to avoid installing a beta OS on your primary devices, the public beta seed typically ensures a minimum level of stability and functionality that isn't always guaranteed with the first developer builds seeded at WWDC. If you're interested in installing the public beta of iOS 12, you can find more details here.

We covered the big themes of iOS 12 and its most important functionalities in our original overview earlier this month. In this article, I want to focus on something different: showcasing my favorite small features and tidbits that I've come across in iOS 12 since installing the beta on both my iPhone X and iPad Pro a few weeks ago. While these features may change (or be removed altogether) between today and iOS 12's final public release, they should give you an idea of the nice and hidden details you can expect from the latest iOS 12 beta. Let's take a look.

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Apple Opens iOS 12 Public Beta

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 12. The first developer beta of iOS 12 was released at WWDC on June 4, 2018. iOS 12 includes new features such as Memojis, Siri Shortcuts, new notification, Do Not Disturb, and Screen Time features and settings for managing time spent on iOS devices, updates to Apple Books, Photos, Stocks, and Voice Memos apps, support for up to 32 simultaneous FaceTime users, ARKit 2.0, and more, which we cover in depth in our our iOS 12 overview.

You can sign up for the beta program here, but be sure to follow the instructions, which include backing up your iOS device, because it’s still early in the iOS 12 beta release cycle. There will be bugs and running a beta always runs the risk of data loss.