Apple's new wellness features really, really want to fix your smartphone addiction


iOS 12 includes a handful of improvements to Apple's Animoji feature, including new features and new character options.

Apple and its Silicon Valley counterparts have recently been forced to defend themselves, following complaints that their devices and software are created to be used compulsively.

In additional to a range of system-wide performance enhancements, new developments in Apple's augmented reality (AR) platform on mobile and more, the company showcased a myriad of new iOS 12 features from powerful updates to core apps like News, Stocks and Books, to entirely new features created to curb device usage, and even a personal new take on Animoji dubbed Memoji. The system would mean that users who search in Pinterest's app for "drapes" might see an Apple-pushed ad for an interior-design app, or Snapchat users entering "NFL" as a search term might see an ad for a ticket-reseller app, for example. The update will work on any Apple device that is now capable of running iOS 11, which includes iPhone 5s and iPad Air and later. Also cool is a new "zero sign-in" feature in tvOS 12 that unlocks all supported channel apps automatically, This way as long as your Apple TV is on your pay TV provider's internet network, you don't have to log into channel apps at all for channels included in your pay TV package. Because these features take time to develop, it's unlikely that Apple simply saw Google's announcements and chose to copy them.

And that translates into hot new features for 2018 iPhone users, with a raft of new functions landing across the range.

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Apple may also launch a $250 speaker with Siri integration to take on Android/Alexa-powered counterparts. In any case WWDC 2018 is kicking off tomorrow so hopefully we'll have more details to share then.

Apple's privacy and security updates are part of a calculated move to prioritize long-term customer loyalty over shorter-term metrics such as engagement, said Horace Dediu, an Apple analyst with Asymco. The new file format will be supported natively by Adobe in Creative Cloud. The Siri tool will also suggest notification changes for apps that are not in use. Reports also tracks what apps are sending you the most notifications.

Apple also unveiled an app called "Measure" that measures boxes and other objects in the real world by pointing the camera at them. Amazon, by contrast, was much more open to controlling apps with its Alexa assistant. This Weekly Activity Summary shows how long each app is used and which apps are sending notifications the most.

On a Mac, you'll need to load up Apple's Safari browser on a macOS Sierra or later machine and head over to this page to stream the event live. But the service got little traction, and Apple shut it down in 2016. The apps would be displayed when users searched using certain keywords in Pinterest, say, or Snapchat, according to the report.

You can also use Animoji, AR Stickers, and Memoji during Group FaceTime calls.