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iOS 12: What's new for FaceTime and Messages

Get ready to either have a lot of fun or get really annoyed.

Screenshot by Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Apple's Messages app has been the focus of several big updates over the past couple of years, but in iOS 12 this year, Messages is receiving just a minor update. There's a new iMessage app drawer, plus a new process for adding previously captured photos to a conversation. 

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Messages app in iOS 12 isn't receiving a ton of new features or changes. Instead, there are a few minor tweaks that should make messaging somewhat easier. The i button is also gone from the top-right corner of a conversation thread. To view a contact's info, tap on the picture at the top of the screen.

If you're looking for the Photos picker, tap on the iMessage App Store icon then the Photos icon. It's an extra step, and it's frustrating. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Camera app in Messages is getting a few new features. After launching the camera in a conversation, you can take photos or videos with filters, apply stickers or add drawings to spice up photos shared with a loved one. To use the new photo tools, tap on the button in the bottom-left corner of the camera app. 

There are also three new Animoji characters, and a new Memoji feature lets you create an Animoji that looks just like you. Check out how to create your own Memoji here.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When Apple first announced iOS 12, FaceTime was set to receive its biggest update ever. Group FaceTime calls were finally going to launch, and users could even use Animoji or Memoji on the call.

Then, Apple pulled the feature from an early beta build and promised that group calls would make its way back to FaceTime in a separate iOS 12 release this year. Apple released the first beta of iOS 12.1 earlier this month, and it does indeed include group FaceTime calls. 

The redesigned FaceTime look will show thumbnails for everyone in what Apple calls "the Roster" along the bottom of the screen, and as someone begins to talk that person's video -- referred to as a Tile -- will move to the top of the screen. The size of the tile is determined by who is active on the call, with the Tile of the person talking slowly getting bigger the longer they talk.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Oh, and those fancy new camera effects Apple added to the Messages app -- you can use those in FaceTime as well.

iOS 12: How to update and what to expect.

Originally published June 7.
Update, Sept. 25: Added latest information on iOS 12 and status of group FaceTime.