With iOS 13 out in public beta and expected to arrive this fall with dozens of cool new features, it’s understandable that we’ve been hearing a lot more about that, but Apple has also been quietly pushing out small betas of iOS 12.4, the next point release of the current operating system.
While point releases aren’t often all that significant, this one is more momentous than most as it’s expected to herald the public release of Apple’s new titanium credit card: The Apple Card.
In fact, this is the first time in four years that we’ve seen a major new Apple service pushed out with a point release, and ironically it was around the same time — and the same point version — back in 2015 that Apple debuted Apple Music with iOS 8.4.
What’s New in iOS 12.4
Although the Apple Card is supposed to be the marquee feature of iOS 12.4 — at least for those in the U.S. who should very soon be able to get their hands on one — there are actually a few more interesting enhancements packed in here as well.
While not much new was seen during the beta phase, according to Apple’s release notes, the new update will also introduce a way to directly migrate data between two iPhones along with some much-needed enhancements to Apple News+.
The iPhone migration feature will allow users setting up a new iPhone to transfer their data directly from their old iPhone wirelessly, bypassing the need to restore from an iCloud backup. While Apple introduced a seamless migration assistant back in iOS 11, this latest enhancement should make setting up a new iPhone even faster and easier, especially for those with slower internet connections or limited data plans.
There have even been rumours that a wired transfer mode for this might be coming in iOS 13, possibly also heralding a switch to USB-C, or at least a proprietary Lightning-to-Lightning cable to facilitate this.
For Apple News, iOS 12.4 now makes downloaded issues accessible in the My Magazines section, adds newspapers to the catalog of publications shown at the top of the News+ Feed, and finally allows users to remove downloaded magazine issues manually.
There’s also a security fix in iOS 12.4 that accompanies an update to watchOS 5.3 to address the eavesdropping bug that was discovered last week, restoring the functionality of the walkie-talkie app.
What about the Apple Card?
Interestingly, the release notes don’t make any mention of the Apple Card itself, which is a rather odd omission, although it’s possible Apple simply doesn’t want to tip its hat by mentioning it before it’s ready to actually release it. The company has promised that it’s coming to users in the U.S. this summer, and it’s been widely reported that not only does iOS 12.4 add the necessary code to support the Apple Card, but that this is the version being used by Apple employees, many of whom have been using their Apple Cards for weeks now.
So with iOS 12.4 now out in the wild, it seems that the groundwork has been laid for Apple to start taking applications for the Apple Card, which could happen as soon as today, although it’s unclear if there are other requirements that still have to be met before Apple is ready to release the card to the public.