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How to use Measure in iOS 12


iOS 12, Apple’s upcoming update to its mobile software for iPhone and iPad, was announced at WWDC 2018 and will be launched in the autumn. (In the meantime it can be installed as a beta.)

iOS 12 brings lots of new features, one of which is called Measure; this can instantly tell you the dimensions of rooms and objects in the real world by visualising them in augmented reality. In this article we show how Measure works.

Be warned before we start that we’ve not found Measure to be super accurate. This may improve in future iterations (it’s still in beta, after all), but at this point it’s a fun, clever and exceptionally convenient way of finding approximate measurements rather than something on which you would be wise to base the design of a house, for example.

Getting started with Measure

Measure is a standalone app. The icon is a black square with white ruler notches and a yellow bar: tap this (you may need to swipe down and search for it) to open the app.

The default screen is a camera view showing whatever is in front of (well, technically behind) the iPhone. There’s a circular target in the centre, and a + button at the bottom – these are the key controls to start with.

How to use Measure in iOS 12: Getting started

Measuring the distance between two points

You’ll notice, as you move the view over objects, that the target adjusts itself to the orientation of whatever it’s pointing at. To measure the distance between two points, move the target over the first point and tap +, then move it over another and tap + again. The distance between the points will appear onscreen.

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How to use Measure in iOS 12: Distance between two points

This measurement will now remain, even if you point the iPhone in a different direction and come back – you’ll need to tap Clear at the top, or Start Again when prompted, to get rid of it. But you can add further dimensions. You could tap two entirely new points, or tap another corner of the same object and then move the target close to one of the previous points and it will be easy to join it on.

How to use Measure in iOS 12: Distances between three points

Instant rectangles

If you’ve got an object that’s a neat rectangle, Measure should be able to detect it automatically. Move the target over it and you should see it highlighted in orange.

Now tap the orange rectangle on the iPhone screen and the dimensions (and area) will be shown at once.

How to use Measure in iOS 12: Instant rectangle recognition

(If it doesn’t get highlighted, it’s possible that the object’s edges aren’t clear enough, and you’ll have to tap the corners manually. And at present Measure cannot auto-detect 3D cuboids, only 2D rectangles.)

How to change the measurement units

By default, we’ve found that Measure gives dimensions in metric. (Craig Federighi’s demo showed them in inches, however. We’re not sure if he had changed the settings, or if the default is different in the US.)

To switch between metric and imperial, go to Settings > Measure > Measure Units.

Spirit level

The spirit level app now sits within Measure (tap the Level tab at the bottom), but this works the same way as before – there’s no AR component. It just feels like it would useful in many of the same situations as Measure’s other functions.

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