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10 awesome hidden features you need to try in iOS 12

Published Sep 18th, 2018 10:30AM EDT
iOS 12 Features List
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Apple on Monday finally released iOS 12 to the public after three months of beta testing with developers and eager early adopters who signed up for the public beta. There were definitely a few bumps in the road along the way, like one beta release that completely killed GPS navigation in every single maps app for a week. For the most part, however, the iOS 12 beta period has been smooth sailing compared to previous years. Of course, that makes a lot of sense since iOS 12 is sort of like a turbocharged bug fix release for iOS 11. Sure there are plenty of new features to be found, but the real story in iOS 12 is that it completely fixes the mess created by iOS 11. The past year has been filled with bugs, security holes, and all sort of problems with iOS 11 that really held back Apple’s new iPhone lineup. Despite the fact that the A11 Bionic SoC was more powerful than anything else on the market by a landslide, Android flagships were outperforming the iPhone X and iPhone 8 left and right thanks to RAM management issues in iOS 11.

All those issues in iOS 11 are behind us now, and we couldn’t be happier that iOS 12 has finally been released. And now that it has been out for a day, you’ve likely spent some time with it and poked around in all of Apple’s redesigned apps. Messages has some great new features as does Maps, and even Apple Music is less awful than it has ever been before. That’s all well and good, but what about all the cool new features that aren’t quite as obvious? In this post, we’ll tell you about the 10 best hidden features in iOS 12 that you definitely have to check out.

Performance and battery life

Okay fine, so performance and battery life aren’t exactly “features.” They’re also not things you can see on your iPhone’s screen though, and many users aren’t aware of the dramatic impact iOS 12 has on battery life and performance.

Every single compatible iPhone model will see big performance improvements once iOS 12 is installed — and remember, every single iPhone model that’s compatible with iOS 11 is also compatible with iOS 12. The older your iPhone is, the more dramatic the impact will be on performance. According to Apple, some older iPhones running iOS 12 will get speed boosts of up to 70% when performing key functions. There are also plenty of behind-the-scenes changes and improvements that will help improve battery life, which is always a sore subject when it comes to aging iPhone models.

There is one important thing to remember, though. When you first update to a brand new iOS version, the operating system has a lot of work to do in the background. That includes reindexing files for Spotlight and Siri, and much more. Beyond that, you’re probably spending tons of time playing with all the new features in iOS 12. As a result, battery life for the first 24 hours is going to take a hit. Once the honeymoon is over, however, you’ll notice a big improvement.

Password autofill

Of all the new features in iOS 12, this one is by far my favorite.

Apple has a password management function built into Safari, but if we’re being honest it’s pretty terrible. It also doesn’t help you at all when you want to log into an app as opposed to a website in Safari, unless you’re willing to dig through settings every time you need to log in. Of course, that’s why third-party password managers exist, and they get WAY better in iOS 12.

Third-party password managers like LastPass, DashLane, and my personal favorite 1Password now have the ability to auto-fill login credentials for websites and accounts without the need to open the apps. Just go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > AutoFill Passwords to give your password manager of choice access. Then the next time you try to log into a site, you’ll see an option pop up for your password manager to enter your login credentials.

Siri Shortcuts

Apple’s new Shortcuts feature is so well hidden that it’s not even included in iOS 12 at all. Instead, you’ll need to head to download the new Shortcuts app from the App Store. Once the app is installed though, the world is your oyster and you’ll be able to create all sorts of shortcuts that can run multiple steps at once with Apple’s apps as well as third-party apps. For example, saying “Hey Siri, it’s bedtime” might turn off the lights in every room of your house and arm your HomeKit enabled alarm system. There are endless possibilities, and the Shortcuts app has plenty of suggestions to get you started.

Search by lyrics in Music

Don’t you hate it when you have a line from a song stuck in your head but you can’t remember which song it’s from? Just search the lyrics you can remember right inside Apple’s Music app and the song will pop up in the results.

Siri translations

Siri still lags behind other voice assistants in some ways, but it gets a bunch of nifty new features in iOS 12. Our favorite is a new translation feature that lets you translate words and sentences between more than 50 different language pairs.

New Do Not Disturb options

Do Not Disturb is a great feature that mutes all notifications for anyone who isn’t on your favorites list. It’s been pretty limited in the past though, with options only to enable and disable it at the same time each day. In iOS 12, you have new options in addition to your normal daily schedule. You can enable DND for one hour, until the end of the day, until you leave a certain location (like a movie theater, for example), or until the end of an appointment in your calendar.

Mute notifications

Apple’s new DND options are great for when you want to silence all notifications, but what about when there’s just one single app that’s really annoying you? iOS 12 gives you a new option to silence a specific app when you swipe on a notification. Tap the Manage button and select “Deliver Quietly” to silence the app. All of its notifications will continue to appear in Notification Center, but they won’t be accompanied by vibrations or notification tones.

Two-factor authentication assistance

Know how you love the idea of two-factor authentication but you hate having to copy and paste all those verification codes from your Messages app to whichever app you’re logging into? Well now you don’t have to anymore. iOS 12 will automatically copy and paste one-time codes from your messages into the verification code field.

Second face in Face ID

Touch ID supports five different fingerprints on each device, but Face ID only supported one face. The logic is pretty clear, but Apple added support for a second face in iOS 12, which can be added in Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Set Up an Alternate Appearance. This way a parent can gain access to a child’s phone without the need for his or hew PIN, for example. Or if you’ve been having trouble with Face ID, try adding your own face as the second face, but hold your iPhone at a different angle when you set it up.

Live Listen for AirPods

If you’re hard of hearing or you’ve always dreamt of having superhuman ears, you’re going to love this last new hidden feature in iOS 12. Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize and add the button called “Hearing.” When you tap that button while your AirPods are connected, it enables a new feature called Live Listen that turns your AirPods into hearing aids!

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.