A few months ago, iOS 12.1 came out with a handful of useful new features, and the upcoming iOS 12.2 will go even further when it's released to the public as a stable build. While some of iOS 12.2's new features for iPhone are much welcomed, there are some that we'd be better without.
Apple's iOS 12.2 started beta testing on Jan. 4, 2019, and since all of the items below were found in the beta releases, it's possible not all of them will make it to the stable build. However, there's also a chance they all will officially appear. Either way, if you want to try them out right now on your iPhone, you can as either a registered developer or a public beta tester.
But before we get to the actual features, it's worth highlighting that there are some hints in iOS 12.2 beta for things to come. First, there's a new AirPods setup screen that includes "Hey Siri," which indicates that AirPods 2 might be coming very soon.
Second, there was a new Apple News interface that highlighted the upcoming "Apple News Magazines" subscription option that includes magazines such as Shape, Vogue, Bon Appétit, and ESPN. This is thought to be a part of a bigger all-in-one Apple subscription service for magazines, Apple Music, and TV shows.
If you have an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR, there are four new Animoji characters to use in Messages and FaceTime, bringing the total number of Animoji to 24, not including customizable Memoji. The new animated AR emoji characters include a giraffe, shark, boar, and owl.
Whenever you view a city or town in Apple Maps in iOS 12.2, you can see the AQI for the area. The AQI, or air quality index, is a set of numbers and colors that describe how clean or polluted the air is. Apple added AQI data to the Weather app in iOS 12.0, but it's just now making it to Maps.
Whenever you can see the current weather in the bottom right of a map, you'll be able to see the AQI value — from 0 to 500, least to most polluted — and its associated color right beneath it. However, it's opt-in, so you need to toggle the setting on before it will work. Check out our guide to see how and to see what all the values mean.
Before the introduction of AQI values in Apple Maps, you were stuck with viewing the current weather for an area viewed on the screen. But since its addition, there's a new section in the Maps settings that lets you toggle off the bottom-right weather conditions icon. I've never found the weather information annoying or unuseful in Maps, but if you have, you now have the option to get rid of it. If you only care about the AQI conditions, you can keep that visible.
A tiny yet welcomed feature is a reorganized "About" screen in the "General" settings. Now, instead of just having your device's name by itself, it's joined by the software version, model name, model number, and serial number. All of those were available before in the big section of information, except the model name that shows "iPhone XS Max" or whatever type it is, which is completely new here. Storage information also has its own section now.
Before, you could only set Screen Time's "Downtime" feature for a specific amount of time for every day, but in iOS 12.2, you can choose specific days with specific times for each. You can even turn it off for some days and on for others.
There's a new Safari setting called "Motion & Orientation Access" that's toggled off by default. Previously, web apps had access to accelerometer and gyroscope sensor data, but now it's opt-in because it could be used "data for tracking, analytics-gathering, and audience recognition," according to The Verge.
This may prevent virtual reality and augmented reality content on websites from working correctly, though Apple's AR Quick Look feature seemed to be working properly without it. However, when visiting Apple's Experience iPhone website, it was clear that motion data was being blocked with the toggle off.
When performing a web search in Safari, there are now blur arrows next to suggested searches that appear under the search bar. Tapping on an arrow will autofill that suggestion into the search bar, but it won't take you there automatically. You can still tap on the actual words next to the arrow to open that search up right away, but the arrow helps narrow your search down and get other recommendations.
Safari would already warn you if a site's certificate is expired or illegitimate, and it would also notify you when a site was not secure during a login or checkout process. Now, Safari shames websites even more for not implementing HTTPS, an application protocol that encrypts data you send to and receive from a site. So whenever you land on a webpage that only uses HTTP, it will say "Not Secure" in the address bar. This also applies to the Safari browser when used inside apps.
While the "Do Not Track" option was nothing more than a security blanket for Safari, it was still a way to hope that some websites and advertisers would acknowledge your request to not be tracked when browsing. Apple's finally admitting defeat, essentially saying that it never really mattered to begin with.
Apple updated its Wallet app's user interface a little bit in iOS 12.2. It definitely looks sleeker in some aspects, but it's really only visual changes.
For instance, when you're viewing a card or pass, instead of seeing your additional cards and passes hidden at the bottom, they're entirely gone. So now you have to hit "Done" instead of just tapping another card, though, you can also still swipe down on the card to see all cards and passes. The ellipsis (•••) button has also moved from the bottom to the top, which is where you access more details for the card or pass, and instead of square menu boxes, they're now rounded.
Speaking of Wallet, your Apple Pay Cash card's look is also revamped. When accessing the card, you still see your last transaction, but you also see all transactions for the last year. Additionally, there's a shortcut to adding money (you'd normally have to tap the ellipsis (•••) to do that, and you still can to see more options) and notifications from Apple. The latest beta build actually removed the "Add Money" and annual review but we're hoping it comes back.
One of the more interesting additions is a color-based keyboard, a move that benefits developers more than anyone else. The keyboard color picker layout can only be accessed using an HTML5 color picker tool online right now, activated with the input type="color" element. Only simple colors appear in standard hexadecimal format, so RGB alpha colors, which appear in different opacities, won't work.
It looks almost exactly like the color picker tool in the Notes app and the Markup tool in Photos, Mail, et. al., only it's its own keyboard, not a pop-up selector. You can test it out at W3Schools' HTML5 Color Picker or on Mozilla's tool.
Apple announced at the beginning of the year that third-party TVs from manufacturers such as Sony, LG, and Vizio will be getting AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. Samsung's TVs will also get AirPlay 2 functionality but is opting to include the iTunes Movies and TV Shows app instead of having HomeKit support.
The update has shown signs of this support, where TV options show up in the Home app, such as a new "Allow Speaker & TV Access" to choose exactly who can view and send content to AirPlay 2 devices. Before, it just said "Allow Speaker Access." One developer also found a way to access hidden controls in iOS 12.2 for including TVs into home automation, such as dimming the lights when playing a movie.
Siri is also apart of this, as you'll be able to tell Siri to open an app or play content on your TV, as well as turn the TV off and on. Plus, you'll be able to AirPlay content from your iPhone to your TV just like you can on an Apple TV.
Now that the Apple TV isn't the only TV that can be controlled with your iPhone with AirPlay 2, it's time to update the Apple TV Remote, which will work with those other TV sets. So instead of the Apple TV image, the image is now a remote control. This icon appears in the Control Center for its control tile, as well as in other areas of iOS such as inside the video Now Playing screen in Siri, the lock screen, etc.
When using the Apple TV Remote in the Control Center, it would expand into a bigger card that let you access the menu, play/pause, use Siri, AirPlay content, rewind, fast-forward, and use the touchpad. Now, when you tap or long-press on the control, it expands full screen. The rewind and fast-forward buttons only appear when content is playing, and everything else is there plus a new "Search" button.
The icon for "Screen Mirroring" has changed to more accurately visual what screen mirroring actually is. The former icon was very confusing, with just a triangle pointing up to a screen. The improved icon shows two displays.
See that old Screen Mirroring icon up above? Welp, that's your new AirPlay icon now. Previously, the AirPlay icon was a triangle tower with circular airwaves being emitted, something that could be confused with Wi-Fi or using a personal hotspot. Now, the triangle, which basically is a sideways play button, is pointing up toward the display (or device) your AirPlaying too.
However, in our tests, the new icon and old icon both appear at times, sometimes in the same exact scenarios when playing the same content from the same app (see image below), but it's likely it just needs to be fleshed out more.
If you're in the northern section of North America, you won't have to miss out on Apple's news platform anymore since iOS 12.2 includes News support for Canada. At first, the number of sources available in the Apple News app will be limited, but it will continue to grow for Canadians as time goes on. But you can view news sources in either English or French, a nice addition.
Also new to News are small visual changes. First, the "Apple" in "Apple News" up top by the date is replaced by the Apple icon, similar to how it is for Apple Pay. Also, the News logo and current temperature have been removed from the top right. Why did Apple remove those? Who knows. I don't see why the temperature had to go (except that it was buggy on occasion), but the News icon wasn't necessary.
The new home screen app icon for News is different. While the "N" part looks almost the same, only with some more curves, it now is the focus of the icon. Basically, it's like the zoomed in to the "N" in the old icon and cropped everything else out, leaving only a white border and adding some curves to the inside portion of the letter.
If you live near an Apple Store that has "Today at Apple" mini classes, you might be able to get recommendations from Siri about upcoming events. In the "Siri & Search" settings for the Apple Store app, there's a new toggle for "Find Interests in Other Apps." By default, this is toggled on, so it's opt out, but with it on, it states that "Siri can suggest Today at Apple sessions based on your Safari and app usage."
If you have AT&T as your carrier, you might see a new "5G E" symbol instead of the normal "LTE" in the status bar. The new symbol stands for "5G Evolution," which is not to be confused with "5G" at all. Currently, there are no iPhone models that can support 5G speeds, so for those that see it on an iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR, it just means you've got Advanced 4G LTE speeds, a small step up from regular 4G.
We'll continue to dive into the iOS 12.2 betas to find more interesting features for iPhone. We've already spotted some smaller, behind-the-scenes features here and there, and we'll add them above once we've learned everything we can about them.