iOS 12.1 with Group FaceTime, new emoji, dual-SIM out now on iPhones and iPads

The update also brings dual SIM support to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read
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Apple's iOS 12.1 update arrives today iPhones and iPads, the same day the company announced its newest iPads and Macs. With iOS 12.1 you'll be able to video chat with up to 32 of your closest friends  (or not so closest, I guess) using Apple's Group FaceTime. You'll also be able to send more than 70 new emoji such as a llama, a face with hearts, a softball and skateboard. The new emoji also will come to the Apple Watch and Mac with a free software update.

"iOS 12 is off to an unbelievable start," Apple CEO Tim Cook said onstage at his company's press event in Brooklyn, adding that the new operating system is already running on 60 percent of iOS devices.

Group FaceTime automatically detects who's talking and makes the image of that person bigger. Participants who aren't active will appear at the bottom of the screen until they speak, and if you want to see any particular participant's video larger, you can tap it to bring it to the front. Group FaceTime is integrated into the Messages app, which lets you start a group call from within a group iMessage Chat. 

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iPhone XS, XS Max and XR users will be able to use dual SIMs after downloading iOS 12.1. And Apple will bring "advanced depth segmentation" in Portrait mode that lets you adjust the bokeh more. You can adjust the depth of field in a real-time preview as well as after you take a shot, giving you more control over the background blur. 


Apple's iOS 12.1 brings Group FaceTime video chats to iPhones and iPads.


Apple may be best known for its hardware, but it's really the seamless integration of its hardware with its software that's set it apart from rivals. The company's ability to control every aspect of its products -- something that began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple 42 years ago -- has been key in making Apple the most powerful company in tech. The company's mobile software, iOS, gets revamped every year and launches when its newest phones hit the market. 

iOS 12 debuted last month with the introduction of the iPhone XS and the XS Max. The biggest changes to the software are a new Memoji feature, improved handling of notifications, a revamped Do Not Disturb feature and a Measure app. Apple also added new parental controls for those who want to keep a child's device locked down, and its Screen Time feature lets you monitor your kids' or your own device usage. 

As of Oct. 10, half of all of Apple's mobile devices on the market were running iOS 12. Another 39 percent used iOS 11, and 11 percent of devices ran an older version, according to the company's developer dashboard. By comparison, about 22 percent of Android devices ran Google's latest software, dubbed Oreo, as of Oct. 26. 

First published at 12:08 a.m. PT.
Updated at 8:33 a.m. PT to add Apple's CEO comments.

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