iOS 12 Features Apple Didn't Mention at Keynote: SMS Spam Reporting, Automatic Updates, and More

At its annual WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple unveiled iOS 12for iPhone and iPad users. The new iteration brings a host of new features like Siri improvements, ARKit 2, Memojis for iPhone X, Photos app improvements, and more. While Apple took centre stage to highlight most of the features, there were some that didn’t make it to the big screen. Developers who installed iOS 12 developer beta have begun tinkering with the update, and are pointing out new features on iOS 12 that we didn’t hear about at the keynote. One of the most important update is the addition of SMS spam reporting. This feature was demanded by India’s telecom regulator TRAI, and while Apple hasn’t introduced a separate feature, it brought the ability to report SMS spam via iOS 12. Separately, Apple has also introduced the ability to enjoy automatic updates, bring multi-user support to Face ID, and a new USB Restricted Mode as well.

Apple and TRAI have been at loggerheads over the development of a government anti-spam mobile application, with user privacy at the heart of a deepening rift between the two sides. Millions of Indians are inundated by telemarketing calls and other unsolicited text messages daily, and the government introduced its Do Not Disturb app for Android users in 2016 to curb the menace. The regulatory body, has since then been demanding Apple to allow it do the same, and threatening legal action if not obliged. With iOS 12, Apple has introduced an API that lets users report SMS spam as well. This was available for calls, but now the service has been extended to SMS as well. For texts, users need to toggle on the Unwanted Communication extension in the Settings app. After this, reporting SMS spam messages is as easy as pressing the Report Message button in the Message transcript. Users can also select messages by long pressing them, selecting additional messages, and then selecting Report Messages. When the user reports a SMS, the Unwanted Communication extension then launches gathering all information before deciding to block or report the number. This feature was first spottedby developer @TanmayS on Twitter.

iOS 12 also brings support for automatic updates. 9to5Mac spotted the toggle in Settings > General > Software Update. The Automatic Updates toggle is switched off by default, but switching it on would presumably mean that you iPhone will install future iOS updates on its own, without manual intervention.

Apple has introduced a new lockdown feature that automatically requires a passcode to unlock the iPhone after one hour of inactivity to allow USB accessories to connect. There’s a new toggle spotted by 9to5Mac that lets users toggle on or off the ‘USB Restricted Mode’. This toggle will allow USB accessories to connect only when the user can unlock the iPhone using passcode, when it has been more than an hour since your iPhone was inactive. The report states that the USB Restricted Mode forces the iPhone to be unlocked with a passcode when connected to a USB device if it has not been unlocked for an hour. This should help prevent brute-force attacks on your passcode.

Support for multiple users for Face ID has also been introduced with iOS 12. A new option to set up an alternative appearance can be seen in the Face ID Settings, indicating the option to add another face for security. The description reads, “In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance.” This feature allows a maximum of two users to register their faces on iPhone X for now. Furthermore, 9to5Mac reports that you cannot reset one Face ID, while not touching the other one. If you want to reset, you will need to clear out both faces first. This is an inconvenience as Apple gathers intelligence to recognise your face better over time.

In any case, if you wish you to use all these and more features on your iPhone 5s and later models, you need to install iOS 12 developer preview from Apple’s developer portal. The public beta is out later this month, and iOS 12 stable release will be released with the latest iPhone variants in the Fall of this year. Eligible devices also include all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later models, iPad 6th generation and later models, iPad mini 2 and later models, and the iPod touch 6th generation.