5 essential apps that work beautifully with iOS 12

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Halide can now add custom background blurs in iOS 12.
Halide can now add custom background blurs in iOS 12.
Photo: Halide

iOS 12 gives your favorite apps access to some amazing new abilities. One is integration with the brand-new Siri Shortcuts, which lets you automate your apps, or to interact with them by talking to Siri. But that’s not all. Camera apps now have access to the the depth information from Portrait Mode, so they can do some pretty special effects.

Safari’s password autofill has also been opened up, so apps like Dashlane and 1Password are now available with a single tap. Let’s take a look at the best new iOS 12-ready apps already available.

Carrot Weather

Carrot, the 'funniest' weather app on iOS.
Carrot, the “funniest” weather app on iOS.
Photo: Carrot

Everyone’s favorite sarcastic weather app, Carrot, now has over 15 new Siri Shortcut integrations. This means that — once you have enabled a shortcut — you can ask Siri all kinds of things about the weather, and it will answer using data from Carrot. This means that you can ask for the current weather, a rain report, or an extended forecast, as well as sunset times, moon phase, and plenty more. Siri provides all the info right there on the lock screen, without even having to open the app.

This is a pretty perfect use of Siri Shortcuts, because checking the weather is something you want to do often, and on-the-go. It even has a shiny new Siri Watch Face for Watch OS 5.

Price: $4.99 plus in-app purchases

Download: Carrot Weather from the App Store (iOS)

Things

Things is a full iOS 12 citizen.
Things is a full iOS 12 citizen.
Photo: Cultured Code

To-do apps are another category where talking straight to the app is the perfect way to interact with it. In iOS 12, Things adds a whole bunch of great iOS 12 extras, including:

support for Siri Shortcuts, the Apple Watch Series 4 and the Siri watch face, Dynamic Notifications, Password AutoFill, and Landscape Mode for iPhone.

Siri Shortcut integrations in Things show how powerful Shortcuts can be. While you can create your own Shortcuts, the easiest way is to just let your iPhone do it for you. Siri now watches how you use your iPhone, and will suggest Shortcuts based on things you do often.

You can see a list of these suggestions in Settings> Siri & Search, inside the Suggested Shortcuts section. Here you can see all the Shortcuts that Siri thinks you might use — from oft-listened-to podcasts, to timers, to message actions, and more. Tap any of these to add a trigger phrase, and you’re set.

Amongst Things’ new abilities are adding new todos to specific lists using Siri, and making use of iOS 12’s dynamic notifications.

Overcast

The Overcast redesign looks great.
The Overcast redesign looks great.
Photo: Overcast

Overcast is now at version 5, and along with a great redesign of the now-playing screen, and the return of Apple Watch playback, the podcast app also adds Siri Shortcuts. The redesign is excellent, making it much easier to find advanced features, but without cluttering the main screen. But the best part for Apple Watch users is that Overcast now transfers podcasts to the watch, and lets you play them back independently of your iPhone.

It does this by transferring up to 20 podcasts to the Apple Watch overnight, while you’re sleeping, which means that your devices are probably connected to power, too. You can even use the watch crown to make volume adjustments.

Price: Free with in-app purchases

Download: Overcast from the App Store (iOS)

Halide

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Halide is one of the best manual camera apps on the iPhone, and now it adds a pretty rad twist on portrait mode. In iOS 12, Apple has opened up access to the Portrait Effects Matte. This is the mask created by the depth camera, separating the subject from its background. This is used to blur the background to give the nice new “bokeh effect.”

Now any camera app can use this to create a custom background blur:

With the help of Portrait Effects Matte, we’ve developed our own custom blur, unique from the iOS camera’s portrait effect. It adds the lush bokeh you expect from a traditional camera.

This is pretty huge. In the future, apps could model the blurred backgrounds and bokeh of real-life lenses. You could maybe turn your iPhone into a Leica-like camera, for example. Halide also adds support for the new iPhone sizes, Siri Shortcuts, and more.

Price: $6.99

Download: Halide from the App Store (iOS)

Dashlane

Dashlane demonstrates iOS 12's password autofill.
Dashlane demonstrates iOS 12’s password autofill.
Photo: Dashlane

 

Cult of Mac sponsor Dashlane now takes advantage of another great iOS 12 feature — password autofill now integrates with third-party apps. You know how, whenever you visit a website in Safari, you can have it autofill your password for you by tapping the little key icon above the keyboard? That key can now open a password app instead.

So, if you use Dashlane, 1Password, or another password app, it is now just as easy as using the built-in iCloud keychain. That’s fantastic, because it lets you use the password manager of your choice, without sacrificing convenience.

Price: Free with in-app purchases

Download: Dashlane from the App Store (iOS)

iOS 12 isn’t a big show-off update like iOS 7, or iOS 11 for the iPad, but it might be one of the best iOS updates in a while. Almost all hardware runs faster, many long-term niggles have been fixed up, and with new features like Shortcuts and Do Not Disturb at Bedtime, everything is just much better designed to fit with how humans want to use technology. I love it, and so will you.