iOS 12.1 will likely launch next week

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iOS 12.1 could be out for iPhone and iPad by the end of this month.
iOS 12.1 could be out for iPhone and iPad by the end of this month.
Photo: Apple

Apple introduced the fourth beta of iOS 12.1 to the general public today. The wait for the full version of this upgrade is almost certainly nearly over.

It will bring some new features and emojis, and is likely required for the new iPhone coming later this month.

The iPhone XR goes up for pre-sale on Friday, and will launch Oct. 26. There’s a good chance this model will debut running iOS 12.1, so this new operating system version needs to be out by then. 

But you don’t have to wait. Anyone who’s brave enough to run pre-release software can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program and download iOS 12.1 beta 4 right now. It’s free and relatively easy.

iOS 12.1 beta 4 released to the general public.
iOS 12.1 beta 4 released to the general public.
Photo: Cult of Mac

But be aware, it is a beta. The three previous iOS 12.1 beta versions have been quite stable, but caution is important with pre-release software.

Changes in iOS 12.1

Those wiling to take the (slight) risk will get an early look at Group FaceTime, which enables users to chat with multiple people simultaneously. Just be aware, anyone in one of these group chats either needs to be running a beta of iOS 12.1 or macOS 10.14.1.

And there’s more in the next version of Apple’s operating system for iPhone and iPad, including the controversial new bagel emoji and dozens more, dual SIM support for the iPhone XS series, and real-time depth adjustment in the camera app.

Apple is also working on new versions of macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It’s possible these will be released at the same time as iOS 12.1.