iOS 18

Apple's next-generation operating system for iPhone and iPad, coming in 2024.

By MacRumors Staff
iOS 18

iOS 18 Overview

We have several months until Apple will introduce the iOS 18 operating system at the June 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference, but there are some exciting updates coming that we're already hearing about.

With the growing consumer interest in generative artificial intelligence products like ChatGPT, Apple is expected to focus heavily on AI improvements in iOS 18. AI and machine learning updates may be seen for many apps and features, with Apple working on large language models to bolster in-app features.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes that iOS 18 could be a "relatively groundbreaking" software update with "major new features and designs," but there is little in the way of specific detail. Apple executives have supposedly described iOS 18 as "ambitious and compelling," and Gurman says that it has the potential to be the "biggest" software update in the iPhone's history with a "slew of new AI features."

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in February that Apple is investing a "tremendous amount of time and effort" on artificial intelligence, and he confirmed that Apple plans to share the details of its ongoing AI work "later this year."

As with all iOS updates, iOS 18 will be accompanied by iPadOS 18, a version of iOS 18 with some features specific to the larger displays of Apple's tablet lineup.

AI Features

Apple is said to be racing to catch up to companies that have an AI head start, such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and OpenAI. Apple is spending more than $1 billion per year on AI research and the hardware needed to run large language models. Apple is said to be planning to use AI in multiple ways in iOS 18, boosting many of its built-in apps. In Apple Music, for example, Apple could offer auto-generated Apple Music playlists, and apps like Pages and Keynote can offer AI-assisted writing and slide deck creation.

The initial AI features coming in iOS 18 will be run on-device and won't rely on cloud servers. Because of the processing power needed, some capabilities might be limited to the iPhone 16 models with their more powerful chips.

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While Apple is planning for the initial iOS 18 features to run on-device, it could rely on a partner like Google for additional cloud based options in the future. Apple wants a partner with large-scale hardware infrastructure to power cloud-based generative AI features like creating images and writing essays based on a prompt. In addition to Google, Apple has also held talks with Baidu and OpenAI.

The next-generation A18 chip that's planned for the iPhone 16 Pro models could feature an upgraded Neural Engine with "significantly" more cores, allowing for improved AI/machine learning performance. The rumor about the Neural Engine further hints at Apple's plans for AI in iOS 18.

Apple is also working on an updated version of Xcode that will include an AI tool for predicting and finishing blocks of code, allowing developers to streamline the app creation process. Apple is also evaluating AI-generated code for testing apps, with AI features set to be included in Xcode.

Apple is not expected to include its own generative AI chatbot in iOS 18, but it could opt for a chat feature that uses technology from Google or OpenAI. Apple is in discussions with Google about integrating the Gemini AI engine into the iPhone in iOS 18. Apple wants to license Google's large-language models, but terms and branding have not yet been decided on.

Apple's full generative AI vision will take time to fully scale, so the complete suite of AI features that Apple has planned might not arrive in iOS 18.

Siri

Siri will take advantage of the artificial intelligence improvements that Apple is bringing in iOS 18. One leaker has suggested that Apple is planning to use large-language models (LLMs) to entirely revamp Siri and turn it into the "ultimate virtual assistant."

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LLMs are the driving force behind chatbots like ChatGPT, and they incorporate huge amounts of data and use algorithms to generate content based on that information.

Rumors suggest that Siri will have better natural conversation capabilities and improved user personalization. The new functionality will be available across device, so Siri may retain conversation information from one device to another.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that one of the specific features Apple is developing is an improved interaction between Siri and the Messages app, which would let Siri auto-complete sentences more effectively and answer complex questions.

According to The Information, Siri will gain deeper integration with the Shortcuts app, with users able to automate complex tasks. Siri, for example, might be able to take a series of five photos, turn them into a GIF, and send the resulting GIF to someone all with one command.

Design Changes

The iOS 18 update is expected to bring some design changes, with Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggesting Apple is working to update the design of the operating system "as early as this year."

iOS might take some design cues from visionOS, but it is not expected to adopt a complete visionOS overhaul, despite a rumor suggesting iOS 18 would be redesigned to match visionOS.

Home Screen Revamp

iOS 18 is expected to feature a more customizable Home Screen, giving iPhone users more options for the look of the iPhone. Apple plans to give customers more control over how their app icons are arranged.

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App icons are expected to remain locked to an invisible grid for organizational purposes, but the update could add the option to create blank spaces, rows, and columns between app icons. iOS 18 is likely to bring the most significant update to the Home Screen that we've had in years, on par with the Lock Screen changes that Apple introduced in iOS 16.

Apple Maps

There are several new features rumored for the Apple Maps app in iOS 18.

With support for custom routes, Apple Maps users may be able to input self-selected routes rather than being limited to the pre-selected options that Apple provides. Custom routes would let users select what roads they want to travel down, whether for scenic purposes or the familiarity of a route.

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Apple may also bring the watchOS 10 topographic map feature to the iPhone in iOS 18. Topographic maps include trails, contour lines, elevation, points of interest, and other features that are of use for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Safari Browsing Assistant

iOS 18 may feature a new Safari browsing assistant, according to backend code on Apple's servers. It is not clear what the Safari browsing assistant will do nor how it will work, but it is likely one of the AI features rumored to be coming in the update.

RCS for Better Texting With Android Users

Apple "later in 2024" will adopt the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard as an alternative to SMS/MMS. iMessage isn't going anywhere for iPhone to iPhone conversations, but RCS will make iPhone to Android conversations better in myriad ways. Sending photos and videos to Android users from an iPhone will no longer result in errors, and group chats will have better performance. Features like cross-platform emoji reactions, read receipts, and real-time typing indicators will also be added.

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  • Support for higher resolution photos and videos.
  • Support for larger file sizes and file sharing.
  • Audio messages.
  • Cross-platform emoji reactions.
  • Real-time typing indicators.
  • Read receipts.
  • Ability to send messages over cellular or Wi-Fi (SMS is cellular only). There is no cost to send an RCS message over Wi-Fi.
  • Improved group chats.

Apple hasn't provided specifics on when RCS will be adopted, but "later in 2024" suggests that it's going to come following the launch of iOS 18. Everything about RCS and what it means for iPhone users can be found in our RCS guide.

AirPods Pro 2 Hearing Aid Mode

With the launch of iOS 18, the AirPods Pro are expected to gain a new "hearing aid mode." While the feature was initially rumored for the next-generation AirPods Pro, Apple is now said to be planning to introduce support through a software update. Apple already has Conversation Boost for increasing the volume and clarity of people directly in front of the wearer, so it is not clear what hearing aid mode will do differently.

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Apple cannot market the AirPods Pro as offering hearing help for those who are hearing impaired, but the FDA has approved over-the-counter hearing aids designed for non-hearing impaired customers.

Accessibility Features

Apple is working on new Accessibility features for iOS 18 and macOS 15. An Adaptive Voice Shortcuts feature will let users create a custom phrase and then select an accessibility setting to link to that phrase. Speaking the phrase will then activate the accessibility option. Users will be able to toggle accessibility features like VoiceOver, Voice Control, Zoom, and more.

Live Speech will gain an option for user-created categories that can be used to organize custom phrases.

Freeform

The Freeform app is set to be updated with a "Scenes" feature that will let users to select specific sections or Scenes within their boards for quicker navigation. Scenes will be accessible through a new Scenes UI, which can be used to flip between saved scenes.

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Compatibility

iOS 18 is expected to run on all iPhones that are able to run iOS 17, which includes the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone SE 2, and newer.

  • All iPhone 15 models
  • All iPhone 14 models
  • All iPhone 13 models
  • All iPhone 12 models
  • All iPhone 11 models
  • iPhone XS and XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd and 3rd gen)

iPadOS 18 is rumored to drop support for the first-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, both of which used the A10X Fusion chip. The update is also unlikely to run on the sixth-generation and seventh-generation iPad models.

The update should be compatible with the following iPads:

  • iPad Pro: 2018 and later
  • iPad Air: 2019 and later
  • iPad mini: 2019 and later
  • iPad: 2020 and later

iOS 18 Launch Date

iOS 18 will be previewed at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10. After WWDC, iOS 18 will be made available to developers for testing purposes, with a public beta likely to come out sometime in July.

Following the beta testing period, iOS 18 will see a launch in September 2024 alongside new iPhones.

iOS 18 Timeline