Apple’s iOS 12.1 update brings new features, fixes, and patches to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Its also brought problems to some iOS 12 owners.
iOS 12.1 serves as the first milestone upgrade for iOS 12 users. Milestone upgrades always come with more than just bug fix and security patches and the iOS 12.1 update delivers a new set of features for all devices capable of running iOS 12.
The iOS 12.1 update is much bigger than iOS 12.0.1 and it’s an update most iOS 12 users should download today.
In this guide to iOS 12.1 we’ll take you through the most important things to know about the update. Our walkthrough includes a quick look at iOS 12.1’s changes, iOS 12.1 problems, the iOS 12.0.1 downgrade, the iOS 12.1 jailbreak status, and what’s next from Apple.
iOS 12.1 Reviews
The iOS 12.1 update is a sizable download for iOS 12.0.1 users. If you’re currently running iOS 12.0.1, you’re looking at a 470MB download.
If your device is connected to a fast Wi-Fi network you should be able to download the iOS 12.1 update in less than five minutes.
As for the installation, it should take less than 10 minutes to complete. It took right around six minutes to install on the iPhone X and about seven minutes on the iPhone 5s.
If you’re currently running iOS 12.0 or an older version of iOS 11, you can expect your iOS 12.1 download and installation to take a longer. This is because the features and fixes from the updates you skipped are baked into your iOS 12.1 update.
For more on the download and installation, take a look at our guide to the iOS 12.1 download and installation.
We’ve been using the iOS 12.1 update on a handful of devices for an extended period of time and here are some broad impressions regarding its performance.
- Battery life is normal on all of our devices.
- Wi-Fi is stable and fast.
- Bluetooth is working properly.
- GPS and cellular data are both functioning normally.
- Third-party apps including Twitter, Slack, Asana, Gmail, Chrome, and Spotify are working fine.
- First party apps like Safari, Podcasts, and Calendar are stable.
- iOS 12.1 is as fast as iOS 12.0 and iOS 12.0.1.
If you’ve been dealing with bugs and performance issues you should install the iOS 12.1 update soon. If you’re having a good experience on your current version of iOS, you might want to wait for long-term iOS 12.1 feedback.
If you need iOS 12.1 feedback right now, take a look at our reasons to, and not to, install the iOS 12.1 update on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch right now.
iOS 12.1 Problems
The iOS 12.1 update went through a beta, but problems have slipped into the final release.
We’re already hearing complaints about download issues, battery drain, Wi-Fi connectivity problems, Bluetooth issues, and problems with Face ID and Touch ID.
If you’re noticing iOS 12.1 problems on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch take a look at our list of fixes for the most common iOS 12 problems. We’ve also released tips to improve iOS 12 performance and tips to improve iOS 12 battery life. These could help.
If you can’t stand the iOS 12.1 update’s performance on your phone or tablet you’re on your own until Apple releases a new version of iOS 12.
Apple’s no longer signing off on iOS 12.0.1 which means there’s no way to downgrade from iOS 12.1.
iOS 12.1 Update: What’s New
The iOS 12.1 update finally brings Group FaceTime calls to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It also makes the following changes to Apple’s FaceTime service:
- Automatic detection of active speakers: FaceTime uses on-device intelligence to display the most prominent speakers on the call, automatically highlighting the current speaker by bringing them to the forefront. It automatically sizes each person’s image depending upon how active they are in the conversation, based on duration of speech, volume and even motion. Participants who are not active will appear at the bottom of the screen until they speak. A simple tap also brings a participant front and center.
- Ringless notification: When calling more than one person, FaceTime displays a notification that lets you instantly join a call without being disruptive.
- Messages integration: Group FaceTime is integrated into the Messages app, making it easy to start a Group FaceTime right from a group iMessage chat. If people in a conversation have already started a FaceTime session, Messages shows the active call in the conversation list and inside your conversations.
- Private: All FaceTime conversations, both one-to-one and multi-person, are encrypted end to end so they remain private and viewable only by the participants.
iOS 12.1 includes a new feature for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Plus.
Apple’s flagships come with a Portrait Mode feature lets you quickly adjust field of view. iOS 12.1 improves this feature with a new live preview that lets you sharpen or blur the background in real time via a slider tool. It’s comparable to the Live Focus feature on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9.
The iOS 12.1 update addresses the “BeautyGate” issue where the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max apply a skin-smoothing filter to photos making them look unnatural.
iOS 12.1 brings new emoji characters to the iOS keyboard and the list includes a kangaroo, a peacock, a parrot, a lobster, a mango, lettuce, a cupcake, a moon cake, and many more. There are over 70 new emojis inside iOS 12.1.
Unfortunately, users that aren’t running iOS 12.1 won’t be able to see them when you send them inside iMessages and text messages.
Here’s everything else on board iOS 12.1:
- Dual SIM with eSIM which allows two numbers in one device for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
- Improved cellular connectivity for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
- Ability to change or reset your child’s Screen Time passcode using Face ID or Touch ID
- Fix for an issue where the sharpest reference frame was not always selected in front-facing photos for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
- Fix for an issue that caused messages to be merged into one thread when two users were signed in with the same Apple ID on multiple iPhones
- Fix for an issue that prevented some voicemails from appearing in the Phone app
- Fix for an issue in the Phone app that could cause phone numbers to appear without their corresponding contact name
- Fix for an issue that could prevent Screen Time from reporting specific websites in the activity report
- Fix for an issue that could prevent adding or removing family members from Family Sharing
- A performance management feature to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down, including the option to disable this feature if an unexpected shutdown occurs, for iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
- Ability for Battery Health to inform users that it is unable to verify if a genuine Apple battery is in iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
- Improved reliability of VoiceOver in Camera, Siri, and Safari
- Fix for an issue that could cause MDM Device Enrollment to report an Invalid Profile error for some enterprise users
References to Apple’s delayed AirPower charging mat have been discovered in the iOS 12.1 beta, a sign the company is still working on the device.
It’s still unclear when the company plans to release AirPower and there’s a good chance the launch gets pushed into next year.
Apple’s rolled out a new version of iOS 12.1 to the iPhone XR, the colorful 6.1-inch LCD model it launched in October.
The new iOS 12.1 firmware for the iPhone XR has build number 16B94 which is a little bit different from the update’s original 16B93 build number.
It’s unclear what’s on board, but we assume it includes additional bug fixes for the device.
If you already installed iOS 12.1 on your phone you won’t see a new update. This new build is only for people who are moving from iOS 12.0.1 (and below) for the first time.
iOS 12.1 Jailbreak
Jailbreak developers haven’t released anything for iOS 12 or any of Apple’s newer iOS 11 updates. The only way you can jailbreak a device is if it’s running an older version of iOS 11. Unfortunately, there’s no way to downgrade.
We haven’t heard or seen any iOS 12.1 jailbreak news so current and prospective jailbreak users should avoid the update when it arrives.
For more on the iOS 12 jailbreak, take a look at our guide.
Apple’s already confirmed the next version of iOS 12 and the iOS 12.1.1 update is now in beta ahead of an unknown release date.
iOS 12.1.1 looks like it’s a point release which means it probably won’t come with a long list of new features. With that said, it should bring several important bug fixes and security patches.
The iOS 12.1.1 update is next in line, but Apple might be cooking up another milestone upgrade for 2018.
The company released iOS 11.2 in December of 2017 and iOS 10.2 in December of 2016 so we could see iOS 12.2 arrive before the end of the year.
If an iOS 12.2 update is indeed on the way, be on the lookout for a beta in November.
Install iOS 12.5.1 for Better Security
If you're on the fence, here's one of the best reasons to install iOS 12.5.1.
If you skipped an older version of iOS, you might get important security patches with your upgrade. iOS 12.5.1 doesn't have any new patches on board.
If you skipped iOS 12.5, you'll get an important patch with your iOS 12.5.1 upgrade. Apple's outlined the update's patch in detail on its security site.
If you skipped iOS 12.4.9, you'll get its four security patches with your upgrade. You can read more about those right here.
If you skipped iOS 12.4.7, you get the update's three security patches (two for the Mail app and one for Wi-Fi) with your upgrade to iOS 12.5.1.
If you skipped iOS 12.4.6 and iOS 12.4.5, you get their security updates (unpublished) with your upgrade.
If you missed the iOS 12.4.4 update, you'll want to download iOS 12.5.1 in the near future because it brings iOS 12.4.4's security patch to your device. You can read about it right here.
If you skipped iOS 12.4.3, you get its security patches (also unpublished) with your upgrade.
If you missed iOS 12.4.2, you get an additional patch with your upgrade. You can read about the security contents of iOS 12.4.2 here.
If you skipped iOS 12.4.1, you'll get its security patch with your iOS 12.5.1 update. You can read about that patch right here.
If you skipped iOS 12.4, you get its patches with your iOS 12.5.1 update.
iOS 12.4 brought 19 security patches to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. If you're interested in the specifics, you can read about them on Apple's security site.
If you skipped iOS 12.3, your iOS 12.5.1 update carries iOS 12.3's security patches on board. The iOS 12.3 update brought 23 patches and you can read about all of them right here on Apple's site.
If you skipped iOS 12.2, you'll get its security patches with your version of iOS 12.5.1.
iOS 12.2 brought a whopping 41 security patches to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can read more about the iOS 12.2's patches over on the company's website.
It's important to note that Apple's iOS 12.2 update patched up an exploit that allowed websites to use motion sensors to "fingerprint" devices.
Fortunately, Apple's patched up the issue. If you skipped it, you'll probably want to move to iOS 12.5.1 soon.
If you skipped iOS 12.1.4, you get four important security patches including fixes for a widespread FaceTime eavesdropping bug that lets you call someone via FaceTime and hear the audio coming from their phone before they pick up the phone.
If you skipped iOS 12.1.3, you get some additional patches with your version of iOS 12.5.1. Again, they're baked into your upgrade.
Apple lists a grand total of 23 patches on board iOS 12.1.3 and you can read about all of them over on Apple's website.
If you skipped iOS 12.1.1, you'll want to install the iOS 12.5.1 update on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch today.
The iOS 12.1.1 update brought 17 patches for potential security exploits. They'll will help protect your phone. You can read about them here.
If you skipped iOS 12.1, you'll get the 24 patches from that update with your version of iOS 12.5.1. If you skipped iOS 12.0.1, your iOS 12.5.1 update brings two additional patches. Both patches are for potential lock screen exploits.
If you skipped iOS 12.0, and you're still running iOS 11.4.1 or below, your iOS 12.5.1 update comes with an even longer list of security updates.
The iOS 12.0 update delivered 16 patches for security issues. You can read about all of them over on Apple's security page.
In addition to those patches, iOS 12 delivers new security features aimed at protecting you and the data you store on your device. These include:
Long story long, if you store sensitive data on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you have some really good reasons to upgrade to iOS 12.5.1 today.
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