iOS 12 – First Impressions

After having used the beta version of iOS 12 for the last month or so, I can tell you that whatever Apple messed up in iOS 11, they un-did in iOS 12. It’s a lot faster than its predecessor, and the battery life is back to its former glory.

Here are my thoughts about using the iOS 12 Beta on my ageing iPhone 5s.

iOS 11: What a Huge Mistake

I had iOS 9 on my ageing iPhone 5s for the longest time. It served my purposes nicely, and I held off on upgrading to iOS 10 for a while. I had it running on my iPhone 6s Plus, which serves as my “home phone”. Due to its size, I find myself not taking it out as much as my iPhone 5s, which is so small it fits into any of my pockets.

When the first beta version of iOS 11 was released in the summer of 2017, having heard good things about it at WWDC, I decided to upgrade to the first beta available. Hence, I went straight from iOS 9 to iOS 11.

Oh boy. I can barely describe how much iOS 11 sucked. Sure it was a beta, and sure it was installed on borderline vintage hardware. I knew that going in. But when it became clear that my battery life had just been halved, and that the phone was now at least 50% slower than it had been before, I realised I had made a huge mistake. Or rather, Apple did. Was this perhaps a deliberate attempt to make the user experience on older device so terrible that we don’t have a choice but to buy new hardware?

Had I known this, I would have stuck with iOS 9. It was excellent and would have served me nicely for many years to come. Without the option to go back to iOS 9, I was now stuck with iOS 11. I kept upgrading to every forthcoming beta version thereof, but none of them made my phone as snappy as it once had been.

What a disappointment!

The Promise of iOS 12

Naturally, as soon as the first beta of iOS 12 came out, I upgraded – slightly surprised that Apple were even offering this new operating system for my iPhone 5s. It was the first 64 bit iPhone Apple ever produced, and I was happy to see that my pocket gadget had not been frozen out yet.

I had no real expectations for iOS 12. Aside from a few enhancements and additional emojis, I hadn’t heard anything revolutinary – apart from the fact that Apple had somehow managed to make iOS 70% faster than it was before. Apparently apps now launch faster. I could really do with that problem being sorted out. 

A 70% speed-up is a bold claim, and I didn’t quite believe it. After all, and in effect, Apple had made iOS 11 70% SLOWER than iOS 9 and iOS 10, so I guess they just un-did whatever they messed up in the first place. And the battery issue? That’s more like unforgivable.

Thinking that my phone’s performance couldn’t get any worse than it already was, there was a glimmer of hope in me that perhaps my iPhone 5s might become a lot more usable again. So I pressed the button and waited.

The upgrade took a while, but as soon as the device was back in action, I started playing around with it. It didn’t seem too different at first, but there are always system services lurking and performing background indexing and all that, so I thought I’d let it do its thing overnight and test it out over the next few days.

iOS 12: First Impressions

I’ve had iOS 12 for over a month on my iPhone 5s by now, it’s currently at Beta 4 – and all I can say is: Thank you Apple! iOS 12 has restored my phone to most of its former glory. Apps launch snappy, performance is great and the battery life has definitely improved. And it’s only a beta version for now!

Speaking of which, some of the built-in apps aren’t quite reliable yet, but that’s what is implied by the fact that it is only beta at the moment.

The Voice Memos app for example doesn’t always save a clip, but it now offers the option to save memos either compressed or lossless. Voice Memos has always been one my favourite apps, I’ve always been very impressed with its functions and quality, and now with an added lossless recording option, it got even better.

Performance Improvements in iOS 12

Under iOS 11, the Starbuck’s App for example took close to thirty seconds to launch. In iOS 12 (Beta 4), this is now a mere 15 seconds, and that’s “launching to a usable state”, not “being open, yet needing another 10 seconds before you can do anything with it”. That’s a great improvement.

Battery life was always a whole day for me in iOS 9, usually even a bit more. No matter what I used to do with my phone, I would hardly ever run out of power. 

With iOS 11, I was lucky to get 6-8 hours out of a full charge. This was even worse when I listen to Spotify for an hour or two, or if I dared to make an hour long LTE phone call. Without an external battery pack, iOS 11 wasn’t really usable other than for a quick walk around the block.

But in iOS 12, things are looking much brighter again: my phone lasts a whole day again, and I can gradually leave that external battery pack at home, even on longer trips around the hood. It even has enough juice again for phone calls and Spotify. Hurra!

The Quirks of iOS 12

One small oddity I’ve noticed is that iOS 12 doesn’t like to charge my phone immediately when it’s connected to my Mac. All I hear is a vibrating sound (three times), followed by a message that I need to unlock my iPhone for “the accessory to be usable”. When I do, charging begins.

Now this may be due to this being a beta version, or the fact that my Mac is still running 10.12 Sierra. I have been pestered to install some kind of software upgrade to be able to use my iPhone with my Mac again. I didn’t think anything of it, because I don’t use iTunes and do everything wirelessly via Dropbox, AirDrop and GoodReader.  Although I have installed that pesky update, the charging issue still persists. It’s no biggie, but I’ll keep you posted if this ever goes away.

Another issue is that visual voicemail, as well as voice mail notifications are currently not working – at least not on AT&T, with the current beta version. I’m assuming that this will be sorted out soon.

Other than that, iOS 12 is a winner. If you held off upgrading to iOS 11 (for very good reason), hang in there for a bit longer and wait until iOS 12 is out in September. 

It’ll be worth the wait. 





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