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iOS 12 public beta: The 10 best new features now available on your iPhone

iOS 12 Public Beta Download

Apple used to be a creature of habit. In fact, the company was so predictable and reliable that you could set your watch by its software and hardware release schedule. Those days are long gone, however, and now Apple simply can’t stop surprising us. Sometimes those surprises come in the form of product launch delays, though delays are becoming so common with Apple at this point that they’re no longer surprising. Of course, not all of Apple’s surprises are bad, and the world got a great surprise on Monday evening when Apple released its first iOS 12 public beta.

iOS public betas used to come after Apple had released a few developer betas and ironed out most of the more serious bugs. But this time around, Apple released its initial iOS 12 public beta after just two developer betas. Don’t worry though, because Apple isn’t rushing things. The reasoning here is simple: iOS 12 betas have been so stable thus far that there’s really no reason to hold off on the iOS 12 public beta.

So, how do you get the iOS 12 public beta on your iPhone or iPad? It really couldn’t be easier. If you’re not already signed up for Apple’s public beta program, just head over to the Apple Beta Software Program page on Apple’s website and sign up. Once you do that, you’ll receive instructions on how to download and install Apple’s public beta profile on your iPhone or iPad. Then you simply open the Settings app on your device and go to General > Software Update to install the update over the air (OTA).

Just make sure you back up your iPhone or iPad first using iCloud or iTunes in case you run into any problems, though we highly doubt you will. Also of note, don’t back up your iOS device again once you install the iOS 12 developer beta until you’re sure you don’t want to roll back to a stable iOS 11 release. It won’t be the end of the world if you do, but it could complicate things a bit since you can’t restore an iOS 12 backup to a device running iOS 11.

With all that out of the way, the first thing you should know about the iOS 12 public beta is that it’s remarkably stable. Seriously, it feels like a GM release. iOS 12 has been surprisingly smooth since the very first developer beta. It’s not terribly surprising since a big focus of iOS 12 is ironing out all of the issues in iOS 11. While most early iOS betas in the past were accompanied by constant app crashes and other serious bugs, there’s a good chance you won’t experience a single abnormal app crash with the iOS 12 public beta. Seriously, it’s that good.

The other thing to keep in mind is that when you first install the iOS 12 public beta on your iPhone or iPad, there’s a good chance you’re going to take a serious hit where battery life is concerned. Don’t panic. As is always the case when you install a completely new version of iOS, there are a bunch of things that happen in the background such as reindexing data. Also, you’re going to be poking around much more than you typically do as you play with new features. After a day or three, your battery life will be back to normal. In fact, you might even find that your battery life is better with the iOS 12 public beta than it was with iOS 11.

So, what can you expect once you install Apple’s iOS 12 public beta on your iPhone? Here are the top 10 best new features of iOS 12:


Amazingly, iOS 12 public beta is available on all devices that currently support iOS 11. That’s right, not a single iOS device is made obsolete by Apple’s iOS 12 update! Apple says older devices running iOS 12 will see big performance benefits, with key functions getting speed boosts of up to 70%.

Here’s the full list of devices that are compatible with iOS 12:

  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1st generation
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad 5th generation
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPod touch 6th generation

So basically, one of iOS 12’s best new iPhone features is the very fact that it works on just about every iPhone still in use.

Augmented Reality

Apple and its partners have created a new USDZ file format that’s optimized for AR sharing, making it much simpler to share 3D objects with other people. All iOS and macOS devices will support the new file format, as will popular third-party software like all of the relevant apps in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite.

ARKit 2 was introduced during WWDC 2018, and it gives developers access to awesome new AR tools such as the ability to have multiple devices see the same 3D virtual objects in AR from different perspectives. This is probably the biggest advancement we’ll see all year in user-facing mobile AR.

As far as new AR features in the iOS 12 public beta go, you’ll find a new app called Measure on your iPhone that allows you to measure objects and distances in augmented reality. It’s very cool and you’re definitely going to have fun playing with it.


Search in the Photos app gets a big update in iOS 12 public beta. Search Suggestions highlights important things before you even start typing, and Apple’s smart search features are more robust as well. For example, you can search “sporting events” or multiple search terms like “surfing” and “vacation.”

The new For You tab in the Photos app highlights different photos and photo groups. It also recommends different effects for photos and shows you previews of images with the effects applied. Basically, this update brings the iOS Photos app a bit closer to Google Photos, though Google’s app is still more robust and feature-rich.

Siri Shortcuts

A new Shortcuts feature in the iOS 12 public beta lets third-party apps add shortcuts to Siri. For example, you can create a shortcut so when you say “I lost my keys” it’ll open the Tile app and locate your keys. Developers can make shortcuts for their own apps, or users can use the new Shortcuts app that lets you create personalized shortcuts with multiple apps. This is based on the Workflow app Apple acquired last year and the possibilities are endless.

Popular app updates

Several Apple apps got big updates in iOS 12 public beta. The Apple News app gets a new browse tab that helps with channel and topic discovery, and your favorite sources are more accessible now. There’s also a new side bar in the news app that simplifies navigation.

The Stocks app was rebuilt from the ground up with a new UI, and Apple News integration has been added to Stocks as well. Curated business news is accessible right in the Stocks app. Also of note, after-hours prices are now available in the Stocks app, and there’s finally an iPad version of the app.

The Voice Memo and iBooks apps have received big updates as well. iBooks has been renamed to Apple Books and the UI got a big overhaul in the iOS 12 public beta.


CarPlay gets a big update as well, most notably with support for third-party navigation apps. That’s right… WAZE ON CARPLAY!!!!!


New grouped notifications will automatically group notifications by app… fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally! There’s also a new Instant Tuning feature in notifications that lets you set specific apps to deliver notifications silently. They’ll still appear on your display, but they won’t be accompanied by vibrations or audio alerts. All of the new notification settings available in the iOS 12 public beta can be found in Settings > Notifications.

Screen Time

Apple introduced several new features in the iOS 12 public beta to improve Do Not Disturb and to make driving safer. The new Screen Time feature is the biggest addition, giving you a weekly activity summary that details how you used your iPhone or iPad. You can also set limits so you get alerts when you use an app too much. Parents can also create allowances for apps to limit the amount of time they can use a specific app, or create downtime at certain time so all nonessential apps are blocked at certain times.

Once you’ve installed the iOS 12 public beta, go to Settings > Screen Time to check out all these new features.

Messages, Animoji, and Memoji

Apple’s animated emoji feature now has tongue detection in iOS 12 public beta. Lord help us all. New Animojis have been added including a ghost, koala, tiger, and T Rex. Also cool is the new Memoji feature in iOS 12 public beta, which lets users create their own Animojis that look like themselves (or anyone else).

Aside from new Animoji and Memoji, the Messages app gets some other cool new features as well. Snapchat-like filters and video stickers are among them, but the big news here is live Animoji and Memoji, which can be combined with other effects in the Messages app.


Group FaceTime has been introduced in iOS 12 public beta, with support for up to 32 simultaneous participants in FaceTime. You can also create a Group FaceTime right from a group chat in Messages, quickly adding all the chat participants to a group video call. Also, live Animoji and Memoji are supported in FaceTime now.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.