Apple has released iOS 12.4 and for millions of iPhone and iPad owners, it may be their last ever iOS upgrade. With iOS 13, Apple will cut-off two generations of devices for the first time, but following four successive high-quality releases, iOS 12.4 looks set to end things for them on a high note. Here’s everything you need to know…
Who Is It For?
Unlike iOS 12.3.2, iOS 12.4 is compatible with all iOS 12 compatible devices. This means iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini 2 or later and 6th generation iPod touch or later (note: iOS 13 will change this). Upgrade notifications should be automatic, but if you haven’t had one head to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13 beta testers, you must unroll your devices for iOS 12.4 to appear.
At circa 400MB iOS 12.4 is a substantial upgrade with some intriguing new features, but the exact size will vary depending on your iPhone or iPad model.
The Deal Breakers
Jailbreakers beware, iOS 12.4 does indeed break your devices so hold fire for now. TaigOne does claim to have broken the iOS 12.4 betas so, while it isn’t publicly available yet, progress may come quickly.
As for early problems, 24 hours in and whatever Apple has been feeding its engineers in recent months is still doing the trick because, once again, it looks to be smooth sailing. Reported problems on social media are as rare as hen’s teeth. I have seen isolated reports connectivity problems with the Apple Watch and 1st gen Apple Pencil but that’s about all. It’s all a far cry from the chaos of earlier releases.
In fairness, iOS releases tend to be more reliable towards the end of each generation but this has been high-class stuff from Apple ever since iOS 12.2 arrived in March.
So What Do You Get?
Given the size of this upgrade, iOS 12.4 brings some nifty features and, it is believed, one secret. Here’s the official list:
– Introduces the ability to wirelessly transfer data and migrate directly from an old iPhone to a new iPhone during setup
– Makes downloaded issues accessible in the My Magazines section, both offline and online
– Adds all publications in Apple News+, including newspapers, to the catalog at the top of the News+ feed
– Adds the ability to clear downloaded magazine issues by selecting History > Clear > Clear All
Other improvements and fixes
– Includes a security fix for the Walkie-Talkie app on Apple Watch and re-enables Walkie-Talkie functionality
This release also includes support for HomePod in Japan and Taiwan.
The headline feature here is the slick, new migration tool (video below) which enables data to be transferred wirelessly from an old iPhone to your new model. Why would you need this when you can just download from iCloud? Because you may have run out of iCloud space or perhaps the transfer is urgent and you don’t need to wait for your old iPhone to sync with iCloud first. It gives you options.
One caveat: both models need to be running iOS 12.4, so this won’t help you with older devices that don’t support iOS 12.
As for the secret feature, iOS 12.4 is believed to have added compatibility with the upcoming Apple Card. Why didn’t Apple declare this? Because 1. Anything future product-related is a tightly guarded secret, 2. It doesn’t tie Apple to a launch date should there be any late-minute delays.
As for fixes, Apple’s official security page lists over 40 bugs squashed, including 19 in WebKit (the browser engine behind Safari), so this is also an important update from a security perspective.
Apple iOS 12.4 Verdict: (Yet Another) Thumbs Up
I make this five iOS updates in a row where Apple has delivered a solid, seemingly bug-free release to iPhones and iPads. That’s a level of consistency we haven’t seen since the good old days of iOS 6 and 7.
Needless to say, I still always urge caution for the first week. Only a small proportion of devices are updated in the first 24 hours and problems can still appear. I’ll update this guide should there be any developments (negative or positive) and post a final verdict in a week so bookmark this page.
The Road Ahead
iOS 12.4 may well be the final iOS 12 release before iOS 13 in September. It’s possible a minor point iOS 12.4.1 update could appear if any bugs are found, but I wouldn’t expect another feature-focused release. Now the big challenge for Apple is to get iOS 13 out the door with the same polish that is has concluded iOS 12. Given the lack of time Apple has had to spend fixing iOS 12 in recent months, my hopes are high.