Apple has today released iOS 12.1 to the public, following its Brooklyn event that saw the launch of new iPad Pro models and refreshes to its range of Mac computers.
In addition to some new features and enhancements, iOS 12.1 also brings a few improvements for blind and low vision users.
Accessibility Improvements in iOS 12.1
In iOS 12.1, Apple has made continued progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs in iOS 12. Based on our testing, we believe the following issues have been resolved in iOS 12.1:
- Users of devices supporting Face ID once again receive haptic feedback when the device has been unlocked.
- Users of braille displays are now able to access and use the misspelled words option in the VoiceOver rotor that was introduced with iOS 12.
- Notifications once again work as expected if you do not have a passcode set.
At the time of posting, we are unaware of any new bugs or regressions for blind or low vision users in iOS 12.1. However, as we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices; configurations; and use cases—so there may be improvements or regressions that we did not identify during the beta cycle. With this in mind, please do let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own testing of iOS 12.1.
General Changes in iOS 12.1
iOS 12.1 brings support for some of the previously announced capabilities and features of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR:
- Support for the eSIM; a digital SIM that lets you activate a cellular plan from a carrier without the need to use a physical SIM card and provides dual-SIM capabilities to these iPhone models.
- Adds a new real-time Depth Control feature, which lets you adjust the depth of field of your Portrait Mode photos before you capture them. With the initial iOS 12 release, this could only be done post-capture.
In addition to these iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR features, iOS 12.1 introduces the Group FaceTime feature that Apple had originally indicated would ship with the initial iOS 12 release.
FaceTime will also gain some further new features in iOS 12.1:
- Automatic detection of active speakers: FaceTime uses on-device intelligence to display the most prominent speakers on the call, automatically highlighting the current speaker by bringing them to the forefront. It automatically sizes each person’s image depending upon how active they are in the conversation, based on duration of speech, volume and even motion. Participants who are not active will appear at the bottom of the screen until they speak. A simple tap also brings a participant front and center.
- Ringless notification: When calling more than one person, FaceTime displays a notification that lets you instantly join a call without being disruptive.
- Messages integration: Group FaceTime is integrated into the Messages app, making it easy to start a Group FaceTime right from a group iMessage chat. If people in a conversation have already started a FaceTime session, Messages shows the active call in the conversation list and inside your conversations.
- Private: All FaceTime conversations, both one-to-one and multi-person, are encrypted end to end so they remain private and viewable only by the participants.
iOS 12.1 also brings more than 70 new emoji. These include:
characters with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, more emotive smiley faces and additional emoji representing animals, sports and food.
Additionally, it's been reported that iOS 12.1 will address what's been dubbed “Beautygate”, a controversy surrounding the front camera on the iPhone XS and XS Max which are claimed to adjust colors and apply “aggressive” skin smoothing that hides fine details such as blemishes, freckles, and more.
How to Update to iOS 12.1
iOS 12.1 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process, so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.
More information on how to update the software on your iOS device is available on this Apple Support page.
As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update.