iOS 12 release date, news and rumors

The iOS 12 release date is next month, at least in beta form, giving developers and early testers the first crack at Apple's next big update for your iPhone and iPad.

We expect iOS 12 to debut on June 4 at WWDC 2018. And, by now, that shouldn't surprise you – Apple launches its new iOS update at the same time every year. 

Its new software features, however, are always filled with some unexpected and exciting news. We anticipate groundbreaking ideas, but also a healthy dose fixes given our many, many ongoing iOS 11 problems.

With the launch of iPhone X last year, the theoretical iPhone X2 and iPhone 9 release date happening later in 2018 and, in between, the Pencil-compatible new iPad 2018 launching into more hands, Apple seems poised to make more big changes.

Here's our list of what we expect from iOS 12 beta, given leaks and rumors about the next big mobile operating system update for the iPhone and iPad.

Cut to the chase

  • What is iOS 12? Apple's next big iPhone and iPad software update 
  • When is the iOS 12 release date? Announcement on June 4 with a subsequent beta,  September launch 
  • How much will iOS 12 cost? Nothing. iOS 12 will remain free.

iOS 12 release date

The iOS 12 release date is June 4, 2018. At least, that's when we expect to see the changes Apple is making to its mobile software during its WWDC 2018 keynote.

That's next month. Apple typically announces its new iOS update during its WorldWide Developers Conference and issues the first developer beta within the next week. It also issues a public beta, previously also launched in June, for every non-developer willing to test it out.

Apple needs these betas more than ever for iOS 12, as it's been plagued with so many iOS 11 problems. The company is likely to continue with the same beta rollout schedule since it values this feedback and diagnostic analysis from so many users.

The actual final iOS 12 release date is September for everyone else, if we're going by Apple's release date history. And it may be right alongside an iPhone X2 and an iPhone 9 that's supposed to be a cheaper take on the iPhone X with an LCD screen.

iOS 12 to focus on reliability over big changes

"iOS 12 just works," may be Apple's big message about its next iPhone update, as it's reportedly focusing on reliability and shelving many exciting features.

This is both good and bad news if you were looking forward to iOS 12 with a brand new look and feel. There may be fewer front-facing features, but your iPhone may reset less. It's hard to argue with that.

That planned home screen redesign and refreshes to the Camera, Mail and Photos app may have to wait until iOS 13, if you are to believe the rumors about the Apple teams new mission. It's all in an effort to make iOS 12 stabilization impeccable.

Will iOS 12 and macOS cross-platform apps happen?

Apple was thought to be bringing first and third-party iOS apps to your Mac, making one of the biggest iOS 12 features for your computer instead of your phone.

It's a long-overdue upgrade. We've always asked: Why can't you control your smart home with the Home app via that all-powerful iMac Pro? It's a ridiculous notion.

Apple is rumored to be allowing developers to expand their app ecosystem to the forthcoming macOS 10.14 update. Apple's own apps, like Home, are also said to be finally making the jump, according to recent reports.

Don't get too excited. This feature may also be saved for iOS 13 and macOS 11.5 in 2019, says a new report. It's supposedly being worked on, but how quickly it comes to the table may leaving you waiting for a while.

More Animojis in more places (like iPad)

Whether you demanded it or vehemently opposed it, Apple is due to bring more Animojis to iOS 12 for use with the iPhone X Face ID camera. iOS 11.3 just gave us four new Animoji faces to play with, but why stop there?

The navigation of these animated character masks should get easier too, according to Bloomberg. That's important, because to get better use, they need to break out of their Apple Messages confines, where Animoji are currently buried.

Apple's Animoji character may make two jumps in 2018. First, the natural jump to FaceTime for video chats behind a virtual panda, robot, and poop mask. Second to what may be a new iPad Pro 2018 with a Face ID camera. We've seen some evidence of an updated iPad recently, beyond the cheap new iPad 2018.

Way better autocorrect

Maybe we could have lumped this iOS 12 change under fixes, but it deserves its own mention. Everyone wants better autocorrect from the built-in iOS keyboard.

Currently, it can be downright terrible. Why? It may be due to Apple's commendable stance on privacy, with all of the smarts happening on the device itself or masked so that individuals aren't identifiable. 

Apple says it's not mining your data like you may find on some Android phones. But we also want a smarter keyboard that doesn't autocap and autocorrect randomly. iOS 12 is Apple's perfect opportunity to balance differential privacy with our typings needs. With the focus on reliability this should be near the very top of the list.

More iOS 12 features we want to see

While nothing is known about iOS 12 yet we have a clear idea of some of the things we want to see, such as the following.

System-wide password manager

We'd also like to see a system-wide password manager built into iOS 12, not just username and password saving in Safari. That's not helpful if you apps on iOS.

With Face Unlock and Touch ID securing our phones, there's little fear in relying on a password manager on mobile devices. And remembering passwords to so many different apps seems like a wasteful second layer of security.

Always-on display hints?

Look out for tiny always-on display hints in iOS 12, as Apple could easily squeeze this useful feature into the iPhone X2 OLED screen in September. The software may have hidden hooks for an always-on screen in the iOS 12 beta code. 

OLED essentially 'turns off' black parts of the screen in an effort not display the bare minimum without eating up battery life. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Google Pixel 2 and even the rumored LG G7 have shown off this idea to great effect.

Apple does have a raise-to-wake feature that's been a big hit among new iPhones. But a true always-on display would help differentiate the iPhone X2 OLED from the rumored iPhone 9 LCD.

New iOS 12 wallpaper

Every new version of iOS seems to get new wallpaper, and we expect iOS 12 to be no different in 2018. It should allow Apple to further exhibit its iPhone X OLED screen.

Specifically, we could see more dynamic wallpapers from Apple. iOS 12 needs more moving backgrounds besides a bunch of moving bubbles in various colors. 

New iOS 12 concept videos show the iconic Earth wallpaper spinning, for example. Right now, that's a flat image, and that doesn't put OLEDs to full use at all.

Grouped notifications

iOS 12 may finally bring a fix to having so many notifications in chronological order. Every morning, our iPhone is littered with so many ungrouped alerts.

Grouping notifications together would make life easier, as long as it's not differently than what we had in iOS 9 with lots of spacing between important alerts. Android Oreo does this nicely, and iOS 12 could easily lift this feature.

We've seen iOS 12 concepts include grouped notifications and also small notification icons on the lockscreen for things like weather and activity ring progress. That would take up less space and provide data at a glance right under the time and date.

Group FaceTime

Speaking of grouped things, we're keen on opening up the FaceTime party to more than just 1:1 chats. iOS 12 should welcome group FaceTime to iPhones and iPads.

We've had 1:1 video chats long enough 

Conference call software, from Hangouts to Skype, can already do this, so it's natural to expect Apple to open up FaceTime to groups eventually. iOS 12 may be it. 

Sound familiar? This was supposed to already be a feature in the current version of iOS, but it didn't actually happen last year. Either that rumor was wrong or was shelved until iOS 12. We'll find out more in June.

Camera controls in the camera app

File this under: Why is this still a problem? Apple's camera app is very barebones compared to its competitions, to the point that you can't change video resolutions within the camera app. It has to be done through Settings > Photo & Camera > Record Video. All of this requires exiting the camera app. That's very unhelpful.

We'd also like to see other settings become easier to use. Android phones do a good job at letting you switch between the rear- and front-facing camera with a swipe up or down on the screen, and the white Timer numbers (3s, 10s) can be hard to see in landscape mode when you're focusing on a subject that's white.

While some app redesigned have been shelved for iOS 13, we're hoping these small tweaks make it into the iOS 12 beta in a few weeks.