Earlier this year at the Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system: iOS 12.

While the final version of iOS 12 won’t be available until September, the developer version of iOS 12 was released in June, giving us an early insight into the future Apple experience.

Although iOS 12 won’t generate a complete overhaul of the iOS ecosystem, the current signs point to it being a welcome refinement on iOS11, with a number of enhancements that should prove to be useful to Apple’s legions of users.

From new Siri Shortcuts to an improved AR experience, here are the three features we’re most excited to see from Apple this Spring.

Group FaceTime

Group Face Time

In a move that will no doubt please a lot of people, Apple is finally adding group chat functionality to FaceTime, meaning you’ll be able to talk with up to 32 of your friends at once (woohoo).

One of the coolest byproducts of the refined FaceTime, is its integration with both iMessage and Apple’s Animoji’s.

Not only will you be able to quickly convert your group messages into a video chat with your friends, you’ll also be able to throw in all sorts of weird filters over your face while you do it – who else is excited for silly group chats with their grandparents?

In terms of the functionality, during a group FaceTime, small video boxes with the group participants will appear on your screen. As people speak, their boxes will begin to appear more prominently on your screen.

Bravo for this one Apple!

Improved Augmented Experiences

When ARKit debuted last September, the limitations were obvious. However Apple are intent on strengthening their AR tools and its ARKit 2 update is great step in the right direction.

Tim Cook has been clear about how important AR is to them, saying it will “change the way we use technology forever.”

Alongside the promise of improved face tracking and more realistic rendering, here’s what you can expect to see with ARKit2 come September:

  • Persistent experiences - You can now save AR spaces and objects that are linked to physical objects (like toys) or physical spaces so you can pick up where you left off later
  • Shared experiences - This will allow multiple users to play a game or view the same virtual environment. Developers can also add a spectator mode, giving friends and family the best views of AR gameplay from a different iOS device.

Siri Shortcuts

In recent times, you could argue Siri has fallen behind in the battle of the voice-enabled assistants, with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s assistant becoming preferred options amongst many users, especially within smart homes.

Siri Shortcuts is Apple’s answer to developing a more refined digital assistant across their product suite and allows for deeper automation within the home.

There will be a dedicated Siri Shortcuts app for users when iOS 12 is released. Through the new app, you'll be able to create your own shortcuts for tasks like ordering an uber, or set multistep tasks where Siri will work with other apps on your phone to turn your thermostat on, or play a podcast once you step in the door of your house – pretty neat right?

Shortcuts will also work with Siri’s suggestions feature, which is getting a additional updates. For instance, if you’re running late for a meeting, Siri will be able to suggest that you should send a text that you’re going to be late.

In light of these changes, it certainly feels like Siri will start to feel more relevant again, and it’s definitely a much needed refresh to Apple’s original wonder girl.

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