Apple wasted no time jumping on the first point release of it's latest mobile operating system, releasing the first beta just 24 hours after the release of iOS 12. The iOS 12.1 beta continues, but is moving along rapidly and we expect the final release sometime in October. It re-introduces Group FaceTime, fixes bugs, adds emojis, and includes a number of hints about new iPads that we may see this fall.
Updated 10/15/18: iOS 12.1 beta 4 is now available for developers.
Developers can head developer.apple.com to download the beta or add the beta profile to their devices. Non-developers who want to be part of the public beta test can head to beta.apple.com using the device on which you want to run the beta, where you can sign up and download a beta profile. If you still have the beta profile installed after upgrading to iOS 12, your device will download it automatically as a regular iOS 12 update.
Note: If you were in the beta test for iOS 12 and do not want the 12.1 beta, head to Settings > General > Profile on your device and delete the iOS 12 beta profile.
What’s in iOS 12.1
Group FaceTime: Apple removed this iOS 12 feature from the iOS 12 beta back in August, and promised it would come in an update to iOS 12 later this year. Early reports indicate that it’s back in the 12.1 beta, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be part of iOS 12.1 when released to the public—Apple may simply be getting it back out there for additional testing.
New emojis: Back in July, for World Emoji Day, Apple announced that the standard Emoji 11.0 list would be coming in iOS 12. It didn't make the initial release, but it's going to be part of iOS 12.1. The new emoji include people with red hair, grey hair, and curly hair, superheroes and villains, and lots more food, animals, and sports.
eSIM support: The eSIM functionality built into the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR has been turned on in the latest iOS 12.1 betas. They require carrier support as well, but all four major U.S. carriers have announced plans to support the feature.
Hints about new iPads: iOS 12.1 includes code hints for Face ID support in landscape orientation, presumably for upcoming iPad Pros. Also, the Xcode Simulator for iOS 12.1 supports output resolutions up to 3,840×2160 (4K), which suggests that maybe the rumors of a USB-C connector on the new iPad Pros, with support for 4K external monitors, is true.
Measure app improvements: Some early testers are reporting that the Measure app is a bit faster and more accurate in iOS 12.1.
Bug fixes: Apple has a handful of significant bugs to fix in iOS 12, though we don't know exactly which ones will be addressed in the final release of iOS 12.1. Beta 2 is said to resolve the charging issue some users have reported.
Other iOS12 updates on the way
We don’t know everything Apple has in store for the evolution of iOS 12, but we know there are some already-announced features that are “coming in a future update,” which means we can expect to see them in an iOS 12 point-release this fall.
ECG in the Health app: The Apple Watch Series 4 includes the ability to take an ECG (in the U.S. only) but the Health app in iOS 12 doesn’t appear to have a data set for it yet. That’s going to need to be added.