While iOS 12 was packed with numerous hidden features, it also included some important bugs – including an unusually embarrassing one which moved over to iOS 12.0.1. Now Apple has its first important update ready – iOS 12.1 – but a critical surprise hides behind its most prominent new feature…

Apple iOS 12.1 produces the highly anticipated launch of Group FaceTime video calls. Originally promised for iOS 12, the feature was pushed back to this release. But Apple’s small print exposes the sad reality is millions of iPhone and iPad owners will never be capable to use it.

Spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple’s user guide for iOS 12.1 declares that Group FaceTime will not be coming to multiple iOS 12-compatible iPhones and iPads. Devices that won’t support this feature are the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4 and 6th generation iPod Touch.

Yes, that’s a lot of dismissed devices. But why?

Apple didn’t state this officially, but the explanation seems to be performance. Group FaceTime video calls are processor accelerated and no devices running an A8 chipset or earlier are compatible. The A8X chipset on the iPad Air 2, though, just rasps in. Distinctly, the A9-powered iPhone SE also works fine.

But there is some benefit – Apple has approved iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners will get support for audio-only Group FaceTime calls. Calling this ‘FaceTime’ without any faces is apparently a stretch, but it’s better than nothing.

That said, It is expected there might be a lot of angry iPhone and iPad users feeling shortchanged as soon as Apple releases iOS 12.1.

In the company’s justification, Apple’s long-term support for its devices is exceptional. But eliminating all these models from Group FaceTime video calls (when clearly lower resolution calls were an alternative) appears to be a hint Apple would like owners of these older iPhones and iPads to upgrade.