iOS 18

Apple's next-generation operating system for iPhone and iPad, in developer beta now and launching in the fall.

By MacRumors Staff
iOS 18

iOS 18 Overview

Unveiled at WWDC 2024 in June, iOS 18 is the next-generation version of iOS, set to be released to the public in September. iOS 18 is built around Apple Intelligence, which is what Apple is calling its AI feature set that's deeply integrated into iOS. Apple Intelligence combines generative AI with personal context, and Apple calls it "AI for the rest of us."

Apple Intelligence improves writing across the operating system, makes Siri much smarter, and allows for multiple forms of content generation. A set of Writing Tools will be available across all apps for rewriting, polishing, proofreading, and summarizing text. You can change your tone, make your writing more concise, and ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors.

An Image Playground app lets you generate images using prompts or Apple's suggestions and themes. You can incorporate pictures of your friends and family to make all kinds of fun custom photos in styles that include Animation, Illustration, or Sketch. Image Playground image generation is built into Messages, Notes, and other apps.

There's a Genmoji feature in the Messages app that lets you create any emoji you want without being limited to the built-in options. You can enter a short description of what you want, even including your friends, and Apple will make it for you.

In the Photos app, you can create custom Memories by typing in a description, with Apple Intelligence choosing appropriate photos and videos based on your description. Memories include a storyline, included music, and chapters for a full narrative arc. A Clean Up tool can be used when editing images to remove unwanted objects from the background of a photo.

Apple entirely overhauled Siri with Apple Intelligence, creating an assistant that is more contextually relevant, personal, and natural. You can use voice commands with Siri, but there's also a new type to Siri option you can activate with a double tap on the bottom of the display. Siri has more personal context for fulfilling requests, and can take actions in apps for the first time. Siri can edit photos, manage files, create folders, and tons more.

Siri better understands language, can keep track of what you asked in a prior request, and knows what's on your screen so you can ask about it. Siri can search your entire device for information and knows your history, so it is prepared to help you with all your everyday tasks.

Apple gave Siri a new look, and when the personal assistant is activated, there's now a glowing ring around the display. Siri also has deep Apple product knowledge and can give you step-by-step instructions on whatever you need to do, so it's like having an Apple Genius in your pocket. When Siri doesn't know something, there's an option to bring in OpenAI's ChatGPT for your requests. ChatGPT is free, gets no info from you, and can be used for creating and illustrating content from scratch.

Apple Intelligence is limited to the iPhone 15 Pro models and iPads and Macs with an M-series chip, and that's because much of the processing is done on-device for privacy purposes and to keep user data safe. Apple cloud servers running on Apple silicon are used for more intensive tasks. Apple promises that its Private Cloud Compute feature does not store data or make it accessible to Apple in any way.

In addition to the AI features, there are a ton of other additions that are not AI related and are available on a much wider range of iPhones. There are new customization options for the Home Screen, with the option to rearrange apps and widgets with open spaces and around wallpapers. Icons and widgets can be made larger and have a darker option for dark mode, plus there's an option to add a colored tint.

Apple redesigned Control Center and made it so everything can be rearranged to put what you use most front and center, with customized sizes and groups. A controls gallery lets you add all kinds of new quick actions, including controls from third-party apps. Control Center can also be split into multiple screens, so you can have dedicated sections for HomeKit, media playback, connectivity, and more, with the option to swipe between them.

The Flashlight and Camera icons on the Lock Screen are part of the Control Center in iOS 18 and can be swapped for other controls or removed entirely, plus controls can also be assigned to the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models.

Apple updated the Photos app, merging the Library and For You tabs into a simplified view that focuses on surfacing your best photos and memories. With Collections, it's easy to find photos organized by themes like recent days, trips, and people and pets. Collections can be pinned for quick access to your most used content. There's a new carousel view that shows you highlights of your best content, and Live Photos and videos will autoplay as you browse.

The Messages app supports scheduling texts for the first time, and the Tapback feature that you use to react to texts now supports any emoji. Text effects can be added to a word, phrase, or emoji, and formatting like bold and italic is available. iOS 18 will see Apple transition from SMS/MMS to Rich Communication Services or RCS for green bubble text, which will result in better messaging experiences with Android users.

If you don't have a cellular or a Wi-Fi connection, you can still text family and friends using Messages via satellite on the iPhone 14 and later. It connects to nearby satellites and works with texts, emoji, and Tapbacks. You can text iPhone users with iMessage or Android users with SMS, but only iMessages are end-to-end encrypted.

Later in 2024, Mail will adopt on-device categorization with sections like promotions, transactions, and personal email, and there is a new digest view that aggregates all of the relevant emails from a business for a full look at correspondence.

There are Highlights in Safari that surface key information about a webpage like a summary of an article, the location of a restaurant, or access to a map on a webpage for a shop. Reader mode has been upgraded with a summary and table of contents. The Notes app supports live audio recording and transcription, along with Math Notes that can automatically solve equations and expressions.

Maps now includes topographic maps and trail networks, including detailed maps of all 63 U.S. national parks. Hikes can be saved for offline access, and you can create custom walking and hiking routes.

Apple added a Game Mode that minimizes background activity to ensure all of your processing power goes to the game you're playing, plus it cuts down on latency from game controllers and AirPods, with AirPods also gaining support for Personalized Spatial Audio for gaming.

With a Tap to Cash feature, you can tap your iPhone to another iPhone to send money over Apple Cash without having to share your phone number or other personal information. Apple Pay supports paying with rewards and with installment plans offered by some credit cards, plus event tickets have been redesigned in Wallet to include maps, information about the venue, and more.

The Passwords section in Settings is now a whole Passwords app that stores iCloud Keychain logins and passwords. The Passwords app supports passkeys, Wi-Fi passwords, verification codes, and more. Passwords can be accessed on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows PCs.

Apple improved privacy in iOS 18, and it's now possible to lock any app, requiring Face ID or Touch ID to open it even when your iPhone is unlocked. You can also hide an app, which removes it from the Home Screen and tucks it away in a hidden folder in the App Library that can't be accessed without authentication. Apps that are locked or hidden won't send notifications and aren't available in search.

Apps that ask for contacts can now be granted access to just select contacts, hiding access to your full contact list. Apple has also added a new method for connecting third-party accessories without letting an app see other devices on the network.

AirPods Pro 2 in iOS 18 support a new gesture-based Siri response option, so you can shake your head for no or nod for yes. If you get a call, you can shake your head to decline, for example. Apple is also adding Voice Isolation so you can better tune out background noise.

iOS 18 is available to both developers and public beta testers, with a launch planned for the fall alongside new iPhone models.

Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence is the name for the set of artificial intelligence features that are in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, powered by machine learning and large language models. Apple Intelligence is deeply integrated into Apple's latest operating systems, providing new capabilities across a range of apps.

apple intelligence

Writing Tools

Writing Tools are meant to help you edit, refine, and improve your writing. It is a collection of features included in Notes, Pages, Mail, and other apps where you write text. It can be used to correct errors, locate missing words, change your tone, and summarize content.

  • Proofread - Proofread checks your spelling and grammar, looking for spelling issues, incorrect verb forms and punctuation, missing words, and situations where you've used the wrong word like "effect" instead of "affect."
  • Rewrite - With the Rewrite option, Apple Intelligence can change the tone of your email. If you've written something to be too casual, for example, you can use the "Professional" setting to have AI rewrite it. Your base message and ideas are kept, but wording is cleaned up. So far, options for Rewrite include Friendly, Professional, and Concise.
  • Summary - As the name suggests, Summary sums up what you've written, offering a quick tl;dr. You can also have the Summary feature list key points from whatever you've written or text that you've selected.
  • Smart Reply - In the Mail app, the iPhone can detect the content of emails and will suggest relevant smart replies so you can respond quickly.

Image Playground

Image Playground is a new app that lets you generate images based on your ideas. You can generate an image with a prompt, similar to ChatGPT, and Apple also has a list of suggested concepts.

Image Playground Preset Feature 1

Apple's concepts are organized into categories like themes, places, costumes, and more.

Nature and Environments

  • Mountains
  • Desert
  • Forest
  • Garden
  • Prairie
  • Rainforest
  • Waterfall
  • Volcano
  • Space
  • Starry Night

Seasons

  • Autumn
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Winter

Costumes and Characters

  • Alien
  • Artist
  • Astronaut
  • Chef
  • Farmer
  • Hiker
  • Healthcare Worker
  • Mechanic
  • Pilot
  • Rancher
  • Racecar Driver
  • Robot
  • Royalty
  • Scientist
  • Superhero
  • Vampire

Themes

  • Adventure
  • Birthday
  • Graduation
  • Halloween
  • Masquerade
  • Party
  • Disco
  • Fantasy
  • Fireworks
  • Love

Places

  • Art Studio
  • City
  • Couch
  • Library
  • Lighthouse
  • Museum
  • Stadium
  • Stage

Items and Accessories

  • Baseball Cap
  • Beanie
  • Beret
  • Bike Helmet
  • Book
  • Bowtie
  • Crown
  • Flower Crown
  • Guitar
  • Hard Hat
  • Magic Wand
  • Microphone
  • Party Hat
  • Rubber Duck
  • Scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Surfboard
  • Sweatband
  • Top Hat

Beverages and Foods

  • Champagne Glass
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Apple suggests these as ideas if you can't come up with your own prompt, but you don't have to use them and can enter whatever you like. All of the content created by Image Playground is stylized, so you can't create anything that looks realistic. The three available styles include Animation, Illustration, and Sketch.

Images that are generated can incorporate your friends and family because you're able to pull their likenesses from the Photos app. You can create fun images of people that you can then send in a message, with all of the image creation done privately on device.

ios 18 image playground

While Image Playground is a standalone app, it is also integrated into apps like Notes and Messages, plus it can be added to third-party apps. When you use Image Playground in Messages, it does pull in context from what you were doing previously. If you were discussing fireworks, for example, it might show suggestions that involve fireworks.

For any generated image, you can look through multiple options and choose your favorite, plus you can iterate as many times as you want because image generation is done on device.

In the Notes app, Image Playground can be used to generate an image that fits into the content of your note, and on iPad, you can draw a rough sketch and have it converted into a better image, a feature that Apple calls the Image Wand.

Genmoji

Genmoji are similar to emoji, and are designed to behave like emoji. With Genmoji, you can essentially generate any emoji you want, so you're no longer limited to the standard set.

Genmoji iOS 18

Genmoji work as emoji on Apple devices, but they are not the same characters encoded by the Unicode Consortium. Instead, Apple designed a special API for them, and they will display properly anywhere that supports rich text.

Genmoji iOS 18 Two

Generating a Genmoji can be done by entering a description of what you're looking for, and you can even create Genmoji modeled after people in your Photos library.

Apple Intelligence revamps Siri and Search, and Siri will be much more intuitive and responsive to requests. Siri has better language understanding and can keep up even if you stumble over your words or change your mind mid-sentence.

With improved contextual awareness and the ability to pull in insights from the apps on your iPhone, Siri knows more about you and can help you more than ever before. Siri can see what's on your screen, so you can do things like visit a website and say "send this to Eric" and Siri will send the message. Better personal context means Siri can look up a movie that was suggested to you by a friend, find your passport number, or locate an important email. If it's on your device, Siri can find it.

ios 18 siri apple intelligence

Siri also maintains continuity between requests, so you can make a reference to your prior request. If you make a calendar event for a trip using Siri, for example, you can then follow it up and ask what the weather will be like, and Siri will understand what you mean.

For the first time, Siri can take actions in and across your apps, and there are hundreds of new things that Siri can do as a result. Siri can move files, send email drafts, edit photos, add photos to messages, and tons more.

There is a built-in type to Siri feature, which can be activated by double tapping the bottom of the iPhone's display.

To mark the major change with Siri, Apple has changed Siri's visual design. When activated, there's a glowing light around the edges of the display to denote that Siri is listening.

Siri is able to tap into a huge database of Apple product knowledge and can tell you about device features and settings, as well as give tutorials on how to complete tasks on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

ChatGPT Integration

Apple is partnering with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT into the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Siri can refer complex requests to ChatGPT, such as generating images or writing from scratch. With Writing Tools, ChatGPT can create and illustrate original content from scratch, which is above and beyond what Siri does.

chatgpt ios 18

You can open up a long PDF, ask Siri what it says about a particular subject, and Siri can hand it off to ChatGPT to create a full summary. Apple sees Siri as a steward for AI models and tools, using available resources and presenting you with an answer without the need for multiple apps.

ChatGPT integration is opt-in, and Siri asks for permission each time before sending a request to ChatGPT and OpenAI's servers. Neither Apple nor OpenAI keep track of requests, unless you are signed in to a paid ChatGPT account.

Summarization and Prioritization

As mentioned earlier, Apple Intelligence can summarize all kinds of text, including both what you've written and what other people have written. You can select text and get a summary, but Apple has also built this functionality into notifications and Messages.

ios 18 apple intelligence notes app summary

Long group texts can be summarized so you can catch up quickly, and entire lectures you've recorded can be distilled down into what's important.

Your incoming notifications are summarized, and the most important are at the top of the stack so you know what to focus on first. Incoming text messages and email messages are summarized so you can see everything that you need to know at a glance.

ios 18 apple intelligence notification summary

With a new Reduce Interruptions Focus mode, your iPhone will filter your notifications and will only alert you if you get a notification that needs immediate attention, such as a text about a ride arriving.

AI App Features

We go into detail on the specific features coming to apps in other sections of the roundup, but here's a quick list of the app changes that are powered by Apple Intelligence. You'll only get these options on a supported device.

  • Messages - Genmoji and Image Playground.
  • Mail - Writing Tools, Priority messages, summaries, and smart replies.
  • Photos - Clean Up tool, enhanced natural language search, and memory movies.
  • Notes - Writing Tools, Image Wand, and recording, transcribing, and summarizing of audio recordings.
  • Phone - Recording, transcribing, and summarizing phone calls.
  • Notifications - Priority Notifications and Reduce Interruptions Focus mode.

Privacy

Most Apple Intelligence features are completed on-device to preserve user privacy. Siri gathers data from your iPhone to answer your requests rather than relying on Apple's servers, but there are instances where the compute power of the cloud is required.

Apple is using Private Cloud Compute for this, with Apple's servers equipped with Apple silicon chips for privacy protection through the Secure Enclave.

Apple says that data is not stored and is used only for requests, and to prove that, Apple allows independent experts to inspect the code that runs on Apple silicon servers. Private Cloud Compute cryptographically ensures that the iPhone, iPad, and Mac do not talk to a server unless its software has been publicly logged for inspection.

Apple Intelligence tools will be opt-in, and you will be able to select specific features that you want to use. Apple has also designed parental controls for Apple Intelligence.

Apple Intelligence Launch Timeline

Most Apple Intelligence features are slated to launch in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia in the fall, but there are some capabilities that Apple needs more time to develop. Many of the improvements to Siri are not set to launch until later iOS 18 versions in 2025.

  • Personal Context - Siri's insight into your photos, emails, messages, calendar events, and more.
  • App Control - The feature that will let Siri control individual features in apps like opening documents, moving files, and emailing web links.
  • On-screen awareness - Siri's ability to see what's on your screen and tie it to requests you make.
  • Semantic indexing - The on-device database that keeps track of your emails, images, apps, and website usage.
  • Additional languages - At launch, Siri will only support American English, with other languages coming sometime in 2025.

It is also worth noting that Apple Intelligence features will not be available in the European Union when iOS 18 launches, and this includes all Apple Intelligence features. Apple is delaying implementing Apple Intelligence in the EU due to the regulatory requirements of the Digital Markets Act. Apple says it is unsure how to bring the features to EU countries without violating DMA interoperability requirements.

Apple Intelligence Requirements

Apple Intelligence is limited to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, both of which have an A17 Pro chip. It will also work with the upcoming iPhone 16 models that are expected to get A18 chips.

On the iPad and the Mac, Apple Intelligence requires an M1 processor or later. Apple says that these requirements are due to the power needed to process AI requests. While technically older iPhones could run AI models, it would be too slow to be useful.

iOS 18 Design Updates

Apple Intelligence may be the biggest overall change coming in iOS 18, but Apple has implemented some noteworthy design changes that overhaul the look of the Home Screen and bring it more in line with the Lock Screen that was updated in iOS 17.

Home Screen

Apps and widgets can be placed anywhere on the iPhone's hidden grid in iOS 18, so you can have a Home Screen and app pages with just a handful of apps and widgets with as much spacing as you want between row of icons.

iOS 18 Home Screen

You can't quite put an app icon anywhere you want on the screen, but you can rearrange icons around your wallpaper and have more empty space than before. The names of apps can be removed, increasing the size of the icons and widgets on the Home Screen with the space saved.

hide app labels ios 18

App Icons

Apple added a Dark color for app icons that pairs well with Dark Mode. The Dark option can be selected independently of Dark Mode or paired with it, and all of Apple's built-in apps now have a new, darker look when it's activated.

ios 18 dark mode icons

You can also choose to tint your app icons to match your wallpaper, overwriting the default color of each icon. You can't choose individual colors for every icon, and the feature only works to put a blanket tint over everything.

ios 18 icon tint

Hiding and Locking Apps

If you have an app you don't want anyone to see, you can choose to lock it or hide it from the Home Screen entirely. It's a useful feature if you want to be able to hand your phone to someone to show off pictures or allow them to play a game as it keeps your most sensitive content out of sight.

ios 18 lock apps

Locked apps require Face ID or Touch ID authentication to unlock them when they're tapped, but they stay on your Home Screen. If you lock an app and hide it, it only shows up in the App Library in a hidden apps folder that takes biometric authentication to open up. Locked and hidden apps do not appear in other places such as search or in notifications.

Control Center

Control Center has been overhauled, and it now features rearrangeable tiles and support for multiple pages so you can put what you need most right at the top of it. You can customize all of the Control Center options, adding new controls from the Controls gallery that Apple introduced.

control center ios 18

There is a grid design where you can move your controls, resizing them to be bigger or larger for easier access. Some controls like Remote can only be as big as four tiles or as small as one tile, while others like Home can be as large as an entire page. Others like volume are limited to two vertical squares, and some, like music, can be four vertical squares or an entire page. Controls like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are still grouped together, and can be made larger or smaller.

Controls can be organized into separate pages for favorites, music, home, and connectivity, and more, and you can swipe up and down between the Control Center pages. A long, continuous swipe gets you to where you need to go the fastest. Tapping into a smaller set of controls like connectivity or music will expand it into a full screen view that you can interact with.

ios 18 control center

Third-party apps can create Control Center controls for the first time, so there are a lot more quick access options that you can assign. Apple has also added a power button that's activated with a long press, and there are some new Control Center options like Translate, Tap to Cash, Shortcuts, and numerous Accessibility controls.

Lock Screen

The Camera and Flashlight options on the Lock Screen are now considered part of Control Center, which means you can swap them out for other Control Center controls. You can assign those buttons to do different things or turn them off entirely, which is useful for those who don't want to accidentally activate the Camera or Flashlight from the Lock Screen.

ios 18 lock screen buttons

It can be set to access apps like Home, Calculator, or Translate, or activate features like Dark Mode. There are multiple options, including one to open any app on your iPhone.

Action Button

Control Center controls can be assigned to the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models, so you can access more apps and features from the button. Available Control Center actions:

  • Calculator
  • Stopwatch
  • Alarm
  • Home
  • Timer
  • Dark Mode
  • Scan Code
  • Airplane Mode
  • Cellular Data
  • Personal Hotspot
  • Dark Mode
  • Quick Note
  • Remote
  • Wallet
  • Tap to Cash
  • Ping My Watch

Read More

We have a more in-depth look at the new Home Screen, Lock Screen, and Control Center features in our dedicated guides.

New App Features

Apple added Apple Intelligence features across many of its apps, and also added new features for Messages, Mail, Photos, Safari, and more.

Messages

iOS 18 includes multiple notable new features for the Messages app aside from the Genmoji and Image Playground additions coming with Apple Intelligence.

Scheduling

You can schedule an iMessage to be sent at a later date and time, with Apple permitting texts to be scheduled up to 14 days in advance. Scheduled messages can be set up by tapping the "+" sign next to the text field, choosing the More option, and selecting Send Later.

iMessage Send Later iOS 18

After you've scheduled an iMessage, you can tap it to edit it, delete it, or reschedule it.

Tapbacks

Apple redesigned the default Tapback response options to make them more colorful than before, plus there is support for using any emoji or sticker to respond to a message.

iMessage iOS 18 4

Long press on a message and tap on the emoji icon to select any emoji or sticker, and this feature also works with custom Genmoji you've created.

Messages via Satellite

In iOS 18, you can send and receive iMessages and SMS text messages using satellite when you don't have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Apple previously introduced an Emergency SOS via satellite option for texting in emergencies, but the new option lets you text anyone even when there's not an emergency.

iOS 18 Messages via Satellite

Messages via satellite works with emoji, Tapbacks, and all messages features, plus end-to-end encryption for iMessages. Messages via satellite works on the iPhone 14 and newer, and it is initially limited to the United States.

RCS Support

Apple plans to transition from SMS/MMS to a new messaging protocol, RCS or Rich Communication Services. RCS is designed for text messages between iPhone and Android users or when iMessage is not available, with iMessage still the default for iPhone-to-iPhone conversations.

apple rcs thumb

RCS will bring multiple improvements to conversations with Android users, and Apple is adopting RCS after years of pushing from Google.

  • 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.
  • Better security. Google's version of RCS has end-to-end encryption, which Apple does not intend to use. Apple will instead work with the GSMA to develop a more secure form of encryption that is baked natively into RCS.
  • More information on all of the features coming with the adoption of RCS can be found in our RCS guide.

    Other Messages Features

    • Emoji - Messages with a single emoji now depict the emoji as larger than before.
    • Links - Link cards have been improved with a background that matches the content in the link, plus there is an option to send plain text links or opt for full-size or compact link cards.
    • Equations - Math equations can be solved in any text field, including Messages. To get a solution, just type in your equation and then add an equals sign.

    Photos

    Apple overhauled the Photos app with an updated design for the library that essentially combines the For You, Albums, and Library tabs. In iOS 18, there's a main Library section paired with different "Collections" that you can swipe through in a Carousel, such as Memories, People and Pets, Recent Days, Trips, Albums, and more.

    You can still get to the same general library view, but you need to swipe down to access the select and search tools that are normally in this section. You can pin your own Collections and organize your Photos app to put what's important to you front and center.

    ios 18 photos app

    If you swipe to any Collection in the Carousel, you can long press to rearrange, remove, or replace it with something that's more important to you. The Carousel is designed to show you a new set of photos each day, which Apple says provides a "fun surprise."

    Along with People and Pets, the Photos app supports Groups for the first time, so you if you have a lot of photos with two or more people, you can see those organized into a specific group as well as individual people. Groups are created automatically using on-device learning, but you can also create them.

    The Photos app includes Apple Intelligence for image editing. You can use the Clean Up tool to remove unwanted background objects from your images. The Photos app can automatically highlight what you might want to remove based on the composition of the image, but you can also take control and tap, circle, or paint over what you want to remove. The removal tool understands the main subject of the image and maintains the integrity of the photo while filling in the area where an object was removed.

    Apple Intelligence can also create custom memory movies of anything that you want to see. You can enter a description like "all the photos of my cat last winter set to a rock song" or "the desserts I ate during the summer, set to a pop song" and Apple Intelligence will find the relevant photos and create a movie that is complete with a narrative arc.

    Search in the Photos app is improved with natural language support, so you can describe what you're looking for to find it. You can even search for a specific moment in a video clip.

    Apple has added a number of new Utilities albums for finding content within photos like text and receipts. You were previously able to search for some of these options, but having a dedicated Utility folder makes them quicker to get to.

    ios 18 photos utilities

    • Hidden
    • Recently Deleted
    • Duplicates
    • Receipts
    • Handwriting
    • Illustrations
    • QR Codes
    • Recently Saved
    • Recently Viewed
    • Recently Edited
    • Documents
    • Imports
    • Maps
    • Recovered

    Some of the Utilities options only show up if you have an image in that category. The Recovered section, for example, shows up if there are pictures or videos on your device that are not in the Photos Library. This can happen from database corruption issues or if images taken with a camera app that do not get properly saved to the Photos app.

    At the bottom of the Photos app, you'll also see suggestions for images that would make good wallpapers.

    Mail

    Apple is overhauling the Mail app with Apple Intelligence. Starting later this year, incoming emails will be organized into categories that include Primary for your main time-sensitive emails, Promotions for marketing and sales messages, Transactions for receipts and order confirmations, and Updates for newsletters and other similar emails.

    ios 18 mail app

    Apple will automatically know which emails are important and will give them a priority status, which puts them at the top of your Primary inbox. Priority emails will include things like flight check-ins, deadlines, and reminders that are due. Messages from the same sender will be grouped together, so you can see things like all of your receipts from one vendor or all of the marketing emails from a store in the same place.

    A summary of a long email can be generated with just a tap, so you can check to see if a message is worth your time before you read the entire thing.

    Smart Reply can be used to identify questions in an email that you were asked with your iPhone generating relevant responses so you can send a reply with a few taps.

    Safari

    Safari's "Highlights" feature automatically detects relevant information on a webpage and highlights it for you as you browse. You might see highlights for directions, hours, and menus on restaurant and store websites, and on other sites, Safari will highlight information about people, music, movies, and TV shows, depending on what you're browsing.

    ios 18 safari app

    Apple also redesigned the Reader mode, adding a table of contents so you can skip to relevant parts of a site and an option that summarizes the page for you.

    More on what's new in Safari can be found in our iOS 18 Safari guide.

    Passwords (NEW)

    Apple moved the Passwords section in the Settings app to a dedicated Passwords app in iOS 18, so it's now easier to get to all of your passwords and logins that you've stored.

    The Passwords app holds your passwords and logins for apps and websites, one-time access codes for two-factor authentication, Wi-Fi passwords, and passkeys. There are also dedicated sections for security alerts, with Apple letting you know about passwords that are too short, have been reused, or have been found in a breach.

    ios 18 passwords app

    You can share passwords with friends and family by creating a shared password group, which gives everyone logins to shared streaming services, home devices, and more. Passwords are added to the Passwords app automatically when you use Apple's built-in saving feature on an Apple device, but you can also add logins by tapping on the "+" button.

    The app is organized with a search bar at the top and a series of letters so you can search for the login you're looking for or tap on a letter of the alphabet to get to that section quickly. Tapping in to one of your passwords gives the option to change it, add notes, or set up a verification code. Apple lets you know if your password for a given site is strong enough.

    If you have AutoFill turned on, the Passwords app can supply your passwords and logins for apps and websites.

    Passwords are synced across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Vision Pro, and even Windows PCs through the iCloud for Windows app.

    Notes

    Notes includes a feature for capturing audio recordings and putting out a live transcript along with a summary of what's included. Live transcriptions can be searched though, and combined with other documents, comments, and lists in the Notes app.

    ios 18 notes app

    Math Notes, a built-in feature in the Notes app, allows you to solve equations, so you can do things like add up a monthly budget or figure out a split for a restaurant bill. It can solve all kinds of math problems, and generates totals when you add in an equals sign.

    For improved organization, sections in notes can be collapsed down, with this feature available when you have your notes organized with headers. You can also now highlight text in notes, with Apple providing five colors to choose from.

    iOS 18 Notes Highlight Feature

    Phone

    In the Phone app, there's now an option to record an incoming call. Both parties are alerted when this option is selected, and your iPhone is able to generate a transcript of the call.

    ios 18 phone app

    Apple has also added support for T9 dialing, allowing you to type a contact's name using the number pad. When you use the letters on the number pad in this way, matching contacts appear above so you can quickly dial you're trying to reach without having to use the Contacts app.

    When you type in a number using the keypad in the Phone app, it provides options to create a new contact or add it to an existing contact. Adding a new contact with this method was available previously, but updating an existing contact with a new number was not an option.

    Wallet

    Tap to Cash is a new feature that makes it easy to make in-person payments with another iPhone user. You can tap two iPhones together to send money without having to share your email address or phone number.

    Money transfers use Apple Cash and are authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. To use the feature, open up the Wallet app, tap on "Tap to Cash," authenticate, and then touch your iPhone to the iPhone of the person you're paying.

    ios 18 tap to cash

    Tickets for events that are stored in the Wallet app have a new look with an included event guide that provides details on bag policies, food options, merchandise, temperature, opening times, parking info, and more.

    With Apple Pay, Apple supports viewing and using rewards or point balances for credit and debit cards, so you can do things like apply your credit card points toward an Apple Pay purchase. You can also access financing installment options from your bank if you want to pay for something over time.

    Maps

    The Maps app supports topographic maps that are complete with trail networks and hikes, a feature that Apple first brought to the Apple Watch last year. There are maps of trails and hike suggestions for all 63 national parks in the United States. There are thousands of hikes available, with Apple providing an option to save favorites, add notes, and get information like elevation and length.

    ios 18 maps app

    As with regular maps, the topographic hiking maps can be saved for offline use, complete with turn-by-turn guidance.

    There is support for creating your own hikes and walking routes, with tools for route options like one way, out and back, or a loop. Creating routes is available for walking directions and is not limited to trails, but there is no option to create a custom driving route.

    Journal

    The dedicated Journal app now supports logging your state of mind when you write an entry, and time spent journaling can be recorded as mindful minutes in the Health app.

    ios 18 journal app

    Apple added an insights view so you can see your writing streaks, a calendar with your entries, and stats like places you've visited, number of words you've written, and how often you've journaled during the year.

    Other new additions include options for sorting and searching past entries and adding a widget for tracking streaks or providing writing prompts.

    Apple TV App

    The dedicated Apple TV app supports InSights, a feature that provides more information about music and actors in a TV show or movie. You can get InSights when using the iPhone as a remote for the Apple TV 4K, but it is limited to Apple TV+ shows.

    ios 18 insight tv app

    Enhance Dialogue has been an Apple TV app feature on the Apple TV 4K, but Apple is adding it to the iPhone when playing content through the built-in speakers, AirPods, or other speakers and headphones. Enhance Dialogue uses machine learning and computational audio to boost vocal clarity over the noise of music and background sounds in a show or movie.

    Home

    The Home app supports new guest features so you can give people temporary access to your smart locks, garage door openers, and alarm systems at select times. Access can repeat, so you can do things like let your house cleaner in weekly at a set time.

    home app ios 18 features

    Hands-free unlocking is available for door locks that support Ultra Wideband technology, which means you can unlock your door automatically with an iPhone or Apple Watch as you approach.

    Apple allows you to select which Home Hub you want HomeKit to rely on, which is handy if you have multiple devices that work as a Home Hub like HomePods and Apple TVs.

    Later this year, HomeKit will support robot vacuum cleaners and will provide home electricity use metrics in partnership with electric companies. At launch, it will be available to Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers.

    Calculator

    The Calculator app stores history, so you are able to see all of your prior calculations. In addition to the Basic and Scientific sections, Apple added a Math Notes section to the Calculator app that ties in with the Notes app for solving equations in a note.

    calculator app ios 18

    You can swap modes by tapping on the calculator icon at the bottom of the Calculator app interface, and this icon also opens up a new convert option. If you type in 10, for example, and then hit the calculator icon and then convert, you can choose from all kinds of conversion options.

    Currency, area, data, energy, force, length, power, pressure, temperature, time, volume, and weight are just some of the inputs you can choose.

    Calendar

    Apple refreshed the Calendar app with a new month view that makes it simpler to see the events that you have coming up.

    Calendar also integrates with the Reminders app for creating, viewing, editing, and completing reminders in the Calendar app without having to open up Reminders.

macOS Sequoia iPhone Mirroring

With an iPhone running iOS 18 and a Mac running macOS Sequoia, you can use the new iPhone Mirroring feature. iPhone Mirroring lets you control your iPhone from your Mac.

macos sequoia iphone mirroring

When you're signed in to the same Apple ID on a Mac and an iPhone, you can use iPhone Mirroring to interact with your iPhone from your Mac even when the iPhone is locked. You can open up and use apps, receive and interact with notifications, and send messages.

You can use your Mac keyboard, trackpad, or mouse with your iPhone, which is useful for typing up long emails and other documents on the iPhone. Later this year, iPhone Mirroring will allow files, photos, and videos to be dragged and dropped between your iPhone and Mac and vice versa.

AirPods Pro Updates

iOS 18 brings several changes to AirPods Pro 2, Apple's latest earbuds. With head gestures, you can control the AirPods Pro handsfree and without speaking. Just nod your head up and down or shake it to respond to incoming notifications and phone calls. Nodding answers a call, while shaking your head declines it.

airpods pro voice isolation

Voice Isolation cuts down on background noise so your voice sounds clearer to the person you're speaking with on a phone call. The microphones on the AirPods Pro will avoid picking up ambient noise with Voice Isolation, prioritizing your voice.

There's already an Adaptive Noise Control feature that adjusts sound and Active Noise Cancellation in response to changes in the environment, and in iOS 18, there's a "Customize" setting for adjusting it to allow for more or less environmental noise to come through.

Privacy Features

As mentioned earlier, you can lock and hide apps to require Face ID or Touch ID to access them, but there are also a few other privacy additions in iOS 18.

Apple redesigned the Privacy and Security section of the Settings app, providing at-a-glance information about what you're sharing so you can make adjustments. The Privacy and Security section shows how many apps have access to various privacy settings like location, camera, microphone, and more.

ios 18 privacy contacts

When apps request access to your contacts in iOS 18, you now have the option to share just a few contacts instead of sharing your entire address book. You are able to select exactly which contacts an app is able to access, if any.

Apple created a new way for developers to pair Bluetooth accessories to the iPhone that allows for pairing without providing information about nearby Bluetooth devices.

Game Mode

A dedicated Game Mode in iOS 18 is designed to minimize background activity so that all of the iPhone's processing power can go toward the game. Game Mode is meant to provide consistently high frame rates, even when gaming for hours.

Game Mode also cuts down on audio latency with AirPods, and it makes game controllers more responsive than before. Apple says that the Bluetooth polling rate with wireless controllers is doubled for better in-game responsiveness.

Game developers are now able to take advantage of Personalized Spatial Audio to create more immersive audio for their games.

Accessibility

Apple announced several new accessibility features coming to iOS 18 in May, giving us a quick preview of what to expect.

iOS 18 Hover Typing Feature

Reduce Motion Sickness

There's a new Vehicle Motion Cues option that's meant to prevent motion sickness when looking at an iPhone or iPad while in a moving vehicle as a passenger. Motion sickness is often caused by a sensory conflict between what a person sees and what they feel, which is an issue in a moving vehicle.

vehicle motion cues

Motion Vehicle Cues use visual elements on the display that indicate real-time changes in motion. Basically, animated dots at the edges of the screen represent changes in vehicle motion, reducing sensory conflict without interfering with the main content. The option can be set to show automatically on the iPhone and it can be turned on and off in Control Center.

Eye Tracking

Eye Tracking allows users to navigate through the iPhone or iPad interface with only their eyes. The feature uses AI and the front-facing camera to determine where a user is looking. It can be used to activate buttons, swipes, and other gestures.

iPadOS 18 Eye Tracking

Music Haptics

When Music Haptics is enabled, the iPhone's Taptic Engine will play "taps, textures, and refined vibrations" that correspond to the audio of the music. The feature works across millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog and developers can implement it into their apps.

iOS 18 Music Haptics

Vocal Shortcuts

With Vocal Shortcuts, iPhone and iPad users can assign "custom utterances" so that Siri is able to launch shortcuts and understand complex tasks.

iOS 18 Vocal Shortcuts

Other New Features in iOS 18

There are a ton of new feature additions that don't fit into specific categories, so we've listed some of the other useful updates available with the new software.

  • There's an option to format external drives connected to the iPhone.
  • Third-party apps can integrate with the Translate app and offer spatial video recording.
  • Video can be sent to emergency responders with Emergency SOS Live Video support.
  • Siri can be assigned a new name with the Vocal Shortcuts Accessibility feature, plus there's an option to use Siri to set up triggers for screenshots, changing volume, opening apps, activating Control Center, and more.
  • Apps are able to offer AirPods-like simple pairing for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi accessories.
  • SharePlay now supports drawing on someone's screen so you can give instructions, or taking control of a screen. This feature is not available in the European Union.
  • The Podcasts app shows chapter segments in a podcast when you scrub through an episode, so it's easier to skip around.
  • In iCloud Drive, there's a new "Keep Downloaded" option so you can select files and folders that will remain stored locally on your device as well as in iCloud.
  • You can now select a multicolor clock on the Lock Screen.
  • When charging, the Battery section of the Settings app lets you know if you're using a slow charger.
  • When you press a button on the iPhone in iOS 18, there's a pop-out bezel animation.
  • There are two new Background Sound options: Night and Fire.

Compatibility

iOS 18 is will 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)

Though iOS 18 will be compatible with many older iPhones, on-device AI capabilities require an iPhone 15 Pro or later.

iOS 18 Launch Date

iOS 18 is currently available to developers and public beta testers. Apple will release the software in the fall after several months of beta testing.

iOS 18 Timeline