First iOS 12.1 public beta offers Group FaceTime

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FaceTime group calls iOS 12
Group FaceTime is back! Sort of. You can call 32 friends at once if you're all willing to install iOS 12.1 public beta 1.
Photo: Apple

Anyone who’d like to try out iOS 12.1 can now do so. Apple just seeded the first public beta, a couple of days after the developer-only version.

Be warned: those who are going to trade in their current iPhone for a shiny new iPhone X’s tomorrow absolutely should not install this.

iOS 12.1 beta available to all

Anyone who wants to sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program can do so. There’s no charge, and it brings early access to iOS (and macOS) versions.

Of course, installing pre-release software brings inherent risks. This version is likely to contain bugs. Do not install it if you don’t want to deal with some hassle.

Group FaceTime: call all your friends

The major change in iOS 12.1 is the return of Group FaceTime. This was originally supposed to be in iOS 12, but was stripped out during the beta process. As Apple promised, the feature is back in the upcoming version.

Group FaceTime will enable users to make calls with up to 32 people simultaneously. And use Memoji during calls.

Another missing feature, Dual SIM support, is not in iOS 12.1 beta 1. But this can’t be tested on anything but the new iPhone XS models, which aren’t available yet. So it could be coming in a subsequent beta.

Not recommended for iPhone trade ins

Anyone who purchased an iPhone XS or XS Max should avoid iOS 12.1 beta 1 like the plague. 

Apple has yet to release a beta version for these new models. It’s not possible to install a backup of a device running iOS 12.1 onto an iPhone running iOS 12. If you update your iPhone now, you won’t be able to restore your latest backup to your new device.