Apple hustles through iOS 12.1 beta process

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The wait for iOS 12.1 public beta 5 was so short you could have napped through it.
The wait for iOS 12.1 public beta 5 was so short you could have napped through it.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The fifth beta version of iOS 12 was released exclusively to developers this morning. But it turns out everyone else didn’t have to wait very long because the public beta is already available.

In past beta cycles, Apple has made the public wait as much as a week to get a new pre-release version after developers could access it. The iOS 12.1 beta process is much more fast and loose.

The idea of seeding pre-release versions to developers first is to insure that they find really major bugs.  This enables Apple to withdraw the beta before it gets onto the iPhones and iPads of the general public. The wisdom of this was demonstrated this summer, when an iOS 12 beta had such a significant flaw it was pulled within hours of being released to devs.

Apple seems very confident that nothing’s going to go wrong in iOS 12.1. Or the rush could be because the company has to get this new version out quickly, as it might need to launch on the iPhone XR when it debuts on Friday.

What’s coming in iOS 12.1

Any and all who want to can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program and download iOS 12.1 beta 5. It’s free and relatively easy. But it is a pre-release version and potentially contains bugs. Perhaps serious ones.

Those who are brave enough to install the latest beta can get an early look at Group FaceTime, which enables users to chat with up to 31 people simultaneously. Naturally, anyone participating in one of these group chats needs to be running either 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 70 new emojis, dual SIM support for the iPhone XS series, and real-time depth adjustment in the camera app.