Apple on Thursday seeded the first public beta version of iOS 12.1 a couple days after releasing the developer beta counterpart.
Currently, there’s very little information about the new beta software or what it contains. Apple hasn’t published any release notes for or known issues present in iOS 12.1.
On the other hand, iOS 12.1 does re-introduce Group FaceTime. The long-awaited iOS 12 feature allows multi-user FaceTime calls with up to 32 participants — including audio-only calls from a cellular Apple Watch or HomePod.
Group FaceTime was pulled from the final release of iOS 12 because Apple needed more time to work out the kinks. As such, it’s been included in the iOS 12.1 betas as part of that testing process.
It’s likely that Group FaceTime will officially launch to the public when iOS 12.1 drops, but that’s not a guarantee. Apple could push the beta testing process into iOS 12.2 if significant problems arise, as we saw with the testing period of AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud.
The iOS 12.1 betas also give us a few hints about this year’s upcoming iPad Pro models.
The new mobile operating system update suggests that new Pro-level Apple tablets will make the switch to USB-C, which could help close the gap between iOS and macOS for many users. Code hidden within the beta also hints at landscape Face ID support to the upcoming tablets.
As far as other features that are coming in the fall, Apple said that new emojis, eSIM support and the Apple Watch ECG app will be launched in an update later this year.
Those don’t seem to be present in iOS 12.1, so they’re probably being saved for a future update. Though, of course, they could be added in an upcoming iOS 12 beta.
How to Download iOS 12.1 Public Beta
The iOS 12.1 beta is available to users who are part of Apple’s beta software program, which you can sign up for here.
It can be downloaded as an over-the-air update on a device with the proper certificate by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update.
As always, we recommend you refrain from downloading beta software on your daily driver or other “mission-critical” devices. At the very least, be sure perform a full archived backup via iCloud or iTunes before proceeding.