iOS 12, released in September 2018, includes quite a few new features and improvements. In addition to significant performance gains, we gained some features people had been asking about for a long time.

Now that it’s been out for a while, we’ll focus on a handful of these useful features that we think would give you the most benefit in your day to day activities.

Group Facetime

No more need for taxing third party apps like Facebook messaging, Google hangouts, and others.  Facetime, which is native to iOS, now provides neat group video chats.  iOS 12.1 is required for this feature. 

How to Use Facetime

In Facetime:  Once you make a call using Facetime on your iPhone or iPad, tap the 3 dots at bottom of the screen. 

Notice the settings type menu, allowing one to flip to forward facing camera, to change to audio only call, or to turn the phone’s speaker on.

At the bottom, you’ll see the contact with whom you’re now on the Facetime call with and below that Add Person

Tap Add Person and then start typing a name or email address to find your next contact.

Continue adding people to the Facetime call this way.  We experimented with this at a user group meeting where we connected from Bethesda, Maryland to one contact in Fairfax and another in Coronado, CA. 

Anybody on the call can add people in this way, and Facetime tiles them depending on who is speaking.

In Messaging:  If you’re in a group iMessage, touch the top of the screen and you’ll see a Facetime button that allows a group Facetime call right from the iMessage!

Note that Mac OS 10.14 (Mojave) also includes group video chats in Facetime.  In the Facetime search field, just enter all the people you want to include, and choose Audio or Video at the bottom of the screen. 

Management of Notifications

Notifications are grouped from one source, and can be expanded by tapping, then grouped back by tapping Show less, and cleared on the fly by the simply tapping the X. 

You can also slide left on a notification and tap Manage, to customize that app’s notifications.   

This ability to delete and customize notifications directly in the Notifications pane will be a real timesaver.

Shortcuts App & Siri Automation

Siri long has been able to handle location aware reminders.  Often, I tell Siri commands like “remind me when I get home to plug in the car” or “remind me when I get to Whole Foods to pick up tofu”.

But use of Siri has advanced significantly in iOS 12.  The new Shortcuts app lets one easily set up shortcuts to often used features that can be triggered by Siri.

I prefer to have choices.  So when Siri is lame, which comes up now and then, I’ll give a shot to the Google Assistant.  To trigger the Google Assistant, say “OK Google”. 

While the Google Assistant is native on android phones, for iOS devices one must a) download the Google app,

and b) have the app open to be able to use “OK Google”.  When I last opened the Google app to give the Google assistant a try, a message popped up, asking me to “Add ‘Ok Google’ to Siri”. 

So I now can tell Siri “Ok Google” and Siri opens the Google app ready for my voice command!  We’ll write more about Shortcuts in a later piece.

Password Autofill

On the iPhone and iPad, users often must sign in to apps or mobile sites to authenticate their identity.  For apps that allow it, Touch ID helped streamline this process. 

But because of sandboxing, there was no easy way to get credentials from a third party password manager app to another app or mobile site to easily sign in.  Apple had made it easier for iCloud Keychain users. Now in iOS 12, password autofill now works with 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and more. 

This banishes my old bulky multitask to get credentials from 1Password to an app or mobile site I’m trying to log into. This new password autofill is a big timesaver!

For example, here is how this works with the Etrade app on iPhone.  Put your finger in the password field, and one of the options below is 1Password, my password manager of choice. 

Touching this opens a 1Password window.  After activating 1Password with Touch ID, search for the specific log in.  Choose the log in, and 1Password inserts the password in the app field to enable log in.  This is a big timesaver for all mobile and app logins on iPhone that I can’t already authenticate with Touch ID. 

Activate this in Settings/Passwords & Accounts/Autofill Passwords.  Now you’ll see the password manager apps that are currently installed on your iPhone.  I downloaded several different password manager apps to show how this list appears. 

Note that this setting allows choice of only one 3rd party app, in addition to using iCloud Keychain.  Some people may prefer this as another backup, but it will more likely add confusion, so we recommend choosing only one source for your password autofill. 

Live Listening

A helpful Accessibility feature, Live Listening sends audio from the iPhone microphone to AirPods or MFi (made for iPhone) hearing aids.

This feature was of great interest to my user group’s older audience, but for AirPod users, it could help amplify a remote talk.  Here’s the Apple support page that lists the makers of MFI hearing aids, and set up instructions. 

Conclusion

There’s much more in iOS 12, but we hope this quick favorites piece is helpful. These are some of the features from iOS 12 that I’ve actually ended up using regularly over the last couple of months. Enjoy!