The days of running out to buy a new iPhone with each September launch may be over for many people. Phones have always been a big investment, so it’s not so much about the money. It’s more about what I call the “good enough” mindset. It goes something like this: My phone does everything I need it to, I know how to use it, it’s fast enough and that’s good enough for me. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t update your iPhone. Regularly updating the operating systems of your devices — computers, tablets or phones — is always a smart idea if for no other reason than keeping your device safe. iOS12 became available last week. It’s time to update your phone.

The new OS is compatible with 5S and later models. Before you get started, check the available storage on your device by going to “Settings” and then to “iPhone Storage.” During the update, Apple automatically tries to make room for the update, but to be safe from the “Not Enough Storage” message, you should have around 5GB available. If you don’t, take this opportunity to delete unused apps and large photos and videos that you can store in iCloud or elsewhere. Allow up to 10 minutes for the installation. Go to “Settings” and then “General” to locate the software update. Once successfully installed, you’ll need to do one more thing before you can start using your phone again. Apple will ask you to confirm an option for automatic iOS updates or choose to update manually. I recommend the automatic updates.

You will now see your home screen again and it will look the same. I wondered if the update had been made. It was. The big gains with iOS 12 are around performance. If you’re updating an older phone, the improvements in performance will be more noticeable than in a newer (8 and above) model. For instance, on an iPhone 6S, overall performance will be about 40 percent faster compared to the same device running iOS 11.4. If you use a lot of apps at the same time, you’ll see them open about twice as fast. The keyboard should launch 50 percent faster. All in all, your phone will respond much faster once you’ve updated and that’s reason enough to do it.

iOS 12 also adds Screen Time, which not only tells you how much time you’re spending on your phone but also groups app usage by category. You can feel great about “reading and researching” but may be surprised at how much time you’re spending on social media. And that’s where Screen Time steps up — you can set time limits by app category and schedule downtime, blocks of time where most apps will be unavailable. Using the default setting, only phone calls will be available during this time. Of course, you can set exceptions. Find Screen Time in “Settings.”

Screen Time can also be used to control your kids’ phone usage. You’ll all have to have an iPhone running iOS 12. Set up Family Sharing if you haven’t already done so by going to “Settings” and then tapping on your name and scrolling down to “Family Sharing.” You may add up to six family members. You can set different limits for each person, including when each app can be used. You’ll have a password that only you can use to extend or change the limits.

Take a close look and you’ll see a new app waiting for you. Measure is the new app that measures items around you. It uses Apple’s augmented reality framework to measure objects and spaces with the phone’s camera.

It works best when you can stand close to an object and there is fairly high contrast between what you’re measuring and the background. The app can detect box shapes and you’ll see a yellow outline appear around it. For other shapes, you’ll tap to form anchor points around the object. Tap the white circle button to take a screenshot that will be automatically saved to your camera roll. This is a great tool for rough measurements, but you will need a real tape measure for accuracy.

That’s about it for the new OS. Feel confident that your phone will move a little faster and you can do a bit more with it, and this upgrade won’t cost you a dime.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for eight years. She has designed and manages several international websites and runs the marketing for a global events company. Questions? Email her at

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