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The Switch

What to know about Apple’s iOS 12 beta

June 25, 2018 at 8:39 PM

Signage is displayed during Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, June 4, 2018. Besides the usual updates across its operating systems, including iOS, MacOS, WatchOS and TVOS, Apple may use the event to unveil new ARKit capabilities, enhanced features for Watch app developers, a usage control tool and an improved version of Siri. Photographer: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg (Meg Roussos/Bloomberg)

Anyone can now try out the early version of Apple’s iOS 12, after the company released a test of the operating system to the public. That means anyone willing to take a risk with unfinished software can try out new features such as group FaceTime conversations, less annoying notifications and new Screen Time tools to tell you just how addicted you are to your phone.

Related: Hooked on your iPhone? At WWDC 2018, Apple finally offers help

A word of warning: downloading the iOS 12 beta means taking a big risk that many things on your smartphone will stop working. The point of a beta is to iron out problems. That means that it’s likely there will be problems, not only with Apple’s own apps and operating system but also with apps made by other companies. If you’re utterly dependent on your smartphone and don’t have a spare, then you should carefully consider whether you want a phone that’s going to act weird.

Before you update, you should back up your data first to make sure that nothing gets lost. You can get out of the beta at any point by unenrolling from the “Profiles” menu in your Preferences.

Should you decide to take the plunge, here are seven things to know about Apple’s iOS 12 beta.

How to sign up: To get started, head to and get an early access account. If you’ve tried out early versions of Apple software before, you can sign in using the same account. Anything else to try? If you have an iPhone X, there are a couple of extra things for you to try – namely “Memoji," emoji that you can create.

How to download: To get started, head to and get an early access account using the same information you use to sign into the App Store. If you’ve tried out early versions of Apple software before, you can sign in using the same account.

Changing your phone habits: The most notable feature Apple has added to iOS 12 is arguably a handful of controls called Screen Time that let you monitor how much you’re using your iPhone. For one, it will tell you how often you’re picking up your phone throughout the day. Downtime, another setting, allows you to set blocks of time where you can only use authorized apps, to keep your distractions down. People will also be able to set time limits for apps, to help them limit their social media or gaming habits, though it’s possible to override these if needed.

You’ll also be able to group notifications by app, so you won’t be completely bombarded with messages when that group text gets out of hand.

New social features: Apple’s FaceTime video conferencing service will now let you have a conversation with up to 32 people, meaning an impromptu family or class reunion is easier than ever. Apple’s also revamped the social side of photos, and will make suggestions about people you may want to send your snapshots to, based on who’s in the pictures.

There are also four new emojis – T. Rex, koala, tiger and ghost – for your expressive needs.

Siri will be smarter: Apple is also continuing to work on Siri, its voice assistant, to make your personal assistant smarter. In iOS 12, Siri will start to look for things you do often and suggest shortcuts – such as placing the order for your morning coffee whenever you start to stir. You can also set your own shortcuts through Apple’s new “Workflow” app, so that Siri can take care of several tasks for you with a single command.

Other things to try: If you have an iPhone X, there are a couple of extra things for you to try – namely “Memoji," an emoji that you can make to look like yourself. All iPhone users can try out Apple’s new “Measure” app, with augmented reality technology to estimate the length of things within the camera’s view. So if you’re not sure if the coffee table will fit in that funny corner, you can find out without scuffing your baseboards.

When is the real version coming out?: If you’re not so into trying things before they’re fully baked, Apple will be coming out with a full version of iOS 12 sometime in the fall. In the past, they’ve come out right before the new model of the iPhone hits store shelves.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post. A Minnesota native, she joined The Post in 2010 after completing her master's degree in journalism.

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