iOS 12 release date, features, news and rumours: Latest iOS will launch on 17 September

iOS 12 previous news

26/06/2018: Apple releases iOS 12 public beta

Apple has released the public beta for iOS 12, allowing iPhone and iPad users to download the next version of its mobile software ahead of general release.

The new software brings with it a handful of notable tweaks, including making the camera and keyboard faster and more responsive, improvements to phone call quality and better Siri functionality.

There are also new features in the form of group FaceTime chats with up to 32 people, new animojis and 'memojis' - an animoji based on your face, similar in style to Samsung's AR Emojis.

As with any beta software release, users are discouraged from downloading the software onto their primary phone, as any glitches in the new OS could potentially wipe your data or even brick your device. You should also make a point of backing up all of your data prior to installing iOS 12, should you choose to do so.

If you do fancy making the switch, you can go to the website for Apple's beta programme, sign up (if you haven't already), then download and install the software from the iOS section.

The full release of the new OS is due in September and is expected to coincide with the launch of Apple's next iPhone. Recent leaks have suggested that the next generation of the device will see the company expand the iPhone X family with an even larger 6.5in unit and a more wallet-friendly 6.1in model.

Expect leaks to reveal further details in the lead-up to the official announcement, but as always, nothing will be confirmed until September.

04/06/2018: Apple previews iOS 12 with a raft of new and enhanced features

Apple used its WWDC conference keynote today to confirm the new and tweaked features users and developers alike can expect to find in the latest iteration of its mobile operating system - iOS 12 - when it arrives for general release.

New features include beefed-up augmented reality features for developers, in the form of ARKit 2, Group Facetime - with the ability to chat with up to 32 participants at one time - new animojis and the ability to create emjois that are more like you (memojis).

That's in addition to ways to help users better strike a balance between the time they're depending on their device and using apps as well as Siri shortcuts to provide better assistance in a range of ways from lost keys to more advanced functionality.

The focus is on ensuring superb performance, even for older devices running the OS, according to Apple. That's because even those with older handsets or tablets like to be on the latest version of the software - some 81% of the more than one billion Apple devices out there are running the latest version of the OS, with iOS 11 boasting 95% user satisfaction levels.

The camera in iOS 12 is 70% faster to launch, while the keyboard is much more responsive and up to 50% faster. Indeed, Apple said, even when you're multitasking and demanding more of the system, apps can generally launch up to twice as quickly as before.

There's also a new 'For You' section in Photos, which helps identify photos you might want to share with friends and, then, on receipt, searches their photos from the same event and suggests ones you may have missed they might want to share back.

"We're very excited about the new communications features we're bringing to iPhone and iPad with Memoji, a more personal form of Animoji, fun camera effects and Group FaceTime," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering.

"With iOS 12, we're enabling new experiences that weren't possible before. We're using advanced algorithms to make AR even more engaging and on-device intelligence to deliver faster ways to get things done using Siri."

Apple's iOS 12 update is already available for developers to download for $99 if they are registered with Apple, but everyone else will have to wait until the public bata becomes available in later in June or until the final release in September. The new update is available to every iPhone model back to the 5S that used iOS 11 and will boost performance, load apps faster and hopefully not suck too much out of the battery.

11/05/2018: iOS 12 may add horizontal Face ID support

iOS 12 may introduce horizontal Face ID support, designed specifically for iPads and the rumoured larger iPhone X, Apple blog Macotakara and MacRumors report. However, the landscape mode will also probably work on other iPhones with Face ID, which currently just means the iPhone X.

The incoming iPad Pro models are expected to pack in Face ID and Apple's True Depth camera system too, albeit on a much larger scale than the iPhone X.

The potential reasons behind this change are apparently because iPhone X users were complaining that Face ID is much more picky and harder to unlock a phone with compared to Touch ID.

This will be the main update to Apple's latest operating system, with the majority of its other debuting features focused on bug fixes and minor updates to the running of the platform.

However, there have been some rumours that iOS 12 will offer a personalised version of Siri, which will be able to identify the user based on their voice. As well as offering extra security, recognising just the owner means that if you're in a room of iPhone users, only the owner of the phone will be able to trigger Siri.

20/04/2018: Apple CEO condemns convergence of iOS and macOS

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, revealed his dislike for the idea of merging iOS with macOS, despite a report claiming that Apple is doing just that.

"We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other," said Cook in a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. "And if you begin to merge the two, you begin to make trade-offs and compromises."

The comment was in response to a report by Bloomberg which discussed rumours that Apple was going to merge iPhone, iPad and Mac apps in a secret programme called "Marzipan".

Currently, developers have to make an app for iOS for Apple's mobile devices and a version of the same app for macOS so it can run on Mac devices. In addition to the extra time and costs, Bloomberg calls the Mac App Store "a ghost town of limited selection and rarely updated programs".

With a single app, all devices would get updates and new features at the same time, and the apps would run on both iOS and macOS with either a keyboard or touchscreen.

Cook agrees that it might make the company more efficient, but said: "That's not what it's about. You know it's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity."

Despite complaints about Mac apps, Cook maintained that he doesn't think a merger is what users want.

With the Bloomberg report suggesting a merger and Cook disavowing it, the project could go either way.

22/03/18: Apple will switch to a two-year development cycle for future iOS iterations from the release of iOS 12 according to reports, meaning some major features may be held back as the company perfects them.

According to Bloomberg, iOS boss Craig Federighi told software engineers at Apple about the changes, saying that they will no longer need to deliver a raft of new features every year. Instead, they will be expected to focus on refinements of the operating system, taking some pressure off the company.

It's not a hugely surprising move as recently, the mobile platform has experienced a lot of bugs and has come under fire for allegedly slowing down the performance of older devices in the hope people will upgrade their devices. Apple also wants to take the pressure off developers so they're not under such stress to get major updates and feature showcases ready for the annual WWDC conference.

"This change is Apple beginning to realize that schedules are not being hit, stuff is being released with bugs which previously would not have happened," someone "familiar with the company" said.

With the previous system, "inevitably, some things will be late because you underestimated how long it would take. Some things have to be cut, some things have to be rushed. It's the result of having thousands of people working on the same schedule," the source explained.

31/02/2018: Apple will make sure enterprise security is a key feature of iOS 12, which is expected to launch at the end of year alongside a new range of iPhones.

According to Axios, Apple the upcoming operating system will focus will be on improving the reliability and performance of its platform, including improving the security of devices and addressing battery life problems experienced on older devices, as well as improvements to augmented reality and digital health features.

However, some planned iOS features a refresh of the home screen and in-car UI, as well as improvements to core apps like mail and photos, will be held back until 2019, Axios said, claiming Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, told employees of the plans earlier in January.

In a separate report, Bloomberg suggested macOS and iOS will become more of a close-knit platform, with third-party apps being "merged" across the platforms, although there's no further details on what that means in practice. The outlet also seemed to back up Axios' claims about iOS 12's delayed features through its own sources, once again citing AR improvements as one of the changes definitely on the menu for this year, with changes to the home screen being held back.

Typically, Apple releases a new version of iOS with its new range of handsets in September, which means users have at least seven months to wait until they see any sign of iOS 12 at all. In the meantime, however, an update of the company's existing mobile operating system, iOS 11, is coming this spring.

iOS 11.3, as the update is called, was released to developers just over a week ago and includes changes such as the ability to turn off a feature that slows down older iPhones and iPads in order to preserve battery life, new Animojis for the iPhone X and new features for Apple Music.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.