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Apple on Monday announced its next iOS 12 point release, iOS 12.1, will be available for download on Oct. 30, bringing with it promised next-generation features including Group FaceTime and dual SIM support for owners of iPhone XS and iPhone XR.
The company in a press release said iOS 12.1 will deliver Group FaceTime, new emoji, real-time depth control previews and dual SIM capabilities when it sees release tomorrow.
Introduced at WWDC in June, Group FaceTime enables 32-person FaceTime video conference calls. The feature was originally slated for release with iOS 12 in September, but Apple postponed its launch in August.
Detailing group calling, Apple reminds users of new FaceTime functions including automatic detection of active speakers. The feature uses on-device intelligence to determine the most prominent speakers on a given call and highlights those people by bringing their chat window front and center. Windows are automatically resized throughout a conversation based on duration of speech, volume and motion, Apple says. Chat windows of users who are less active remain on the bottom of the display, though tapping on a pane brings it forward.
A new behavior allows FaceTime to display "ringless" notifications when calling more than one person, allowing users to enter a conversation without being disruptive.
Finally, with direct integration in the Messages, users can start or join a Group FaceTime call without leaving a text thread. For example, Messages displays a list of active calls in the conversation list and inside individual conversations. Apple notes both one-to-one and multi-person FaceTime calls are end-to-end encrypted.
In addition to Group FaceTime, iOS 12.1 activates dual-SIM functionality for iPhone XR, XS and XS Max.
A tentpole feature of Apple's latest smartphones, dual-SIM support allows iPhone owners to utilize two cellular plans on a single device without constant SIM card swapping. Apple's solution relies on Dual SIM Dual Standby technology, which keeps both a physical SIM and an embedded eSIM — or a second physical SIM card in China — addressable simultaneously.
Apple's camera software is also getting a bump with iOS 12.1. The update is bringing support for dynamic previews for the operating system's new Depth Control feature. The feature allows user to dynamically adjust and view depth of field previews in the Camera app, providing quick access to the new Portrait mode effect. Depth Control functions, which can also be applied post-capture, are also available on selfies taken with iPhone's front-facing TrueDepth camera.
Additionally, Apple is adding more than 70 new emoji with iOS 12.1, including new characters with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, as well as other additions like more expressive smiley faces.
Apple did not specify an exact time of release, but iOS 12.1 should be available shortly after the company's media event in New York wraps up. With the tagline "There's more in the making," Apple's gathering is slated to start at 10 a.m. Eastern and is expected to bring word of new iPad Pro, Mac and potentially AirPods hardware.
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