Apple this week released iOS 12.3 beta 3 to both developers and public software testers. And while it was relatively light on changes, the new beta build helps to paint a clearer picture of what the final release of iOS 12.3 will look like.
The iOS 12.3 beta cycle has been admittedly one-note — most of the changes concern Apple’s upcoming services. But there are some additional features and tweaks in the new beta, so continue reading to learn about all the confirmed features you can expect!
Apple TV Channels
The iOS 12.3 betas also introduce Apple TV Channels. Although technically a part of the overhauled TV app, Channels is actually a new a la carte subscription service that was announced alongside the redesigned app and Apple’s upcoming Apple TV+ original content platform.
Apple TV Channels will allow users to subscribe to and access content from a number of premium TV providers — including CBS All Access, HBO, Showtime and Starz. The big draw is that users can access this content without needing to download or use a separate app. iOS 12.3 already contains free trials and subscription support for Showtime, Starz, Smithsonian and Tastemade.
New TV App
In the wake of its services-based event, Apple has completely redesigned its seemingly forgotten TV app. There will be new services-based features available in the app, like Channels and Apple TV+, but the app itself has also been overhauled. The new app places particular emphasis on curation and making content easier to find and watch.
For example, the app’s categories have been streamlined into three tabs: Watch Now, Library and Search. In the Watch Now tab, there are sections for "What to Watch" and "For You" — which will feature shows picked out by human curation and machine-learning curation, respectively. The app itself will pull content from more than 150 different streaming apps.
Apple Card Support
We’re not sure when Apple’s innovative new credit card will debut (the only timeframe given was this summer). But iOS 12.3 has already been updated with a few code changes that will allow iPhones to support it. Specifically, hidden within iOS 12.3 betas is the actual activation process for the Apple Card.
As spotted by 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo, the physical Apple Card will apparently come in a colorful envelope that sports a small glyph. To actually activate the physical Apple Card, users will touch their iPhones to this glyph — which actually contains an NFC tag. iOS 12.3 will then walk the user through the rest of the setup process.
Support for the New Era of Japan
While this is a fairly specific addition, it’s extremely important for the users it will impact. iOS 12.3 will introduce support for the next era of the Japanese calendar. Specifically, that’s the Reiwa period, which will officially begin on May 1, 2019 — or when the current emperor’s elder son is expected to ascend to the throne.
The support for the new Era of Japan fixes a fairly major bug that impacted users who had their devices set to the Japanese language. Basically, when a Japanese language user shifted their devices to May 1, 2019, it caused it to essentially freak out. That was apparently due to date format limitations for the Japanese calendar.
If you noticed that there aren’t many major changes that have been spotted in the iOS 12.3 beta, it’s because the next software update is looking fairly incremental. Besides the additional support for new Apple services, iOS 12.3 will likely be a fairly minor update that primarily introduces under-the-hood changes and tweaks.
For example, the Wallet transaction history was slightly tweaked in beta 2 and an Accessibility bug was patched in beta 3. But while new additions to iOS 12.3 have been fairly sparse over the past few betas, it’s likely that Apple will continue to refine the features it has added. We expect Apple to continue adding smaller features until the final version of iOS 12.3 is released sometime in May.