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iOS 12: Release date, new features and hidden features

Every new feature coming for the iPhone and iPad.

Sarah Tew/CNET

iOS 12 will be powering your iPhone or iPad for the next year, and it has plenty to offer. For those brave enough, iOS 12 is already available through Apple's beta program. We've been using iOS 12 since Apple released it through the developer program, digging around and using all of the fancy new wares. 

As we close in on the full release of iOS 12, which should be about a month away, let's take a look at everything you need to know.

ios-12-developer-beta

Jason Cipriani/CNET

When can I download it?

Right now. The public beta launched at the end of June and will run up until the official release, likely in September. Taking part in the beta program gives you a chance to use and provide feedback about features before they're finished, but just keep in mind there are bound to be bugs and issues along the way

Device compatibility

If your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch runs iOS 11, it will run iOS 12. That's the short answer, but we also have a more detailed answer right here.

Smoother and faster

The headlining feature of iOS 12 isn't something we can explain through screenshots. It's something you have to experience on your own. Instead of cramming countless new features into iOS 12 and adding to some of the already perplexing (and frustrating!) bugs we all experience, Apple is using iOS 12 to focus on improving the overall performance of its iOS device lineup across the board.

Apps should open faster, scrolling should be smoother and crashes should be fewer.

Now Playing: Watch this: 5 new features in iOS 12
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Core features

Siri gets smarter, but you'll work harder -- at first. Siri Shortcuts are tasks you can create and trigger with a custom command to do things like send a text, play a podcast and get directions to your favorite ice cream shop.

Cut down on screen time: New tools in iOS 12 show you how often you pick up your phone, how many notifications you receive, and how much time you spend using various apps. Trust us: It's scary to see hard numbers for how long you spend on your phone.

Better notification management: One of the main reasons we reach for our phones so often is the sheer number of alerts we receive. iOS 12 has new tools to cut back on unnecessary alerts.

Minor tweaks to Messages, but a big change to FaceTime: After a couple years of adding a lot to the Messages app, the biggest change this year is a new camera tool. FaceTime was supposed to add group calls for up to 32 people, but Apple decided to remove the feature from iOS 12 for the time being. We should still see group FaceTime later this year, though. 

Create an Animoji of your own: Memoji is a word you're going to hear a lot this fall. A Memoji is an animated emoji iPhone X users can create and use just like last year's Animoji characters.

Closing apps goes old school: Apple changed the process of force-closing apps on the iPhone X, adding in extra steps. With iOS 12, things are getting back to normal. 

iPad gets some love

Apple didn't spend much time focussing on iPad improvements with iOS 12, but there are a few new features. 

Control Center has moved on the iPad, putting it in the same spot as the iPhone X. 

There are five more features the iPad will receive when iOS 12 is released, one of which is a new look to multitasking. 

Secret features

Apple covered much of the new stuff in iOS 12 during the WWDC keynote, but not everything. We rounded up a few things that didn't make the keynote here. Naturally, once we had a chance to install the developer beta, we started looking and found some hidden features on our own.

There's also this new trackpad feature that makes editing text on new and old devices a breeze. Check it out.

How to download iOS 12: Get the beta now.

Originally published June 2.
Update, Aug. 15: Updated with latest information throughout.