Apple iOS 18: What’s New in the Latest iPhone Software Release

Apple has announced iOS 18 — the next generation of the operating system that powers iPhones. Here’s an overview of what’s new in the forthcoming update.

According to Apple, iOS 18 will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone Xs and later. It includes a slew of new features and enhancements, including customization options, the ability to send messages over satellite, the addition of ChatGPT and other AI features, and what the company touts as the biggest-ever redesign of the Photos app.

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Customization Features

  • With iOS 18, iPhone users can now arrange apps and widgets in any open space on the Home Screen — including placing them right above the dock. In addition, app icons and widgets can take on a new look with a dark or tinted effect, and you can make them appear larger.

  • Control Center has been redesigned to provide faster access your most-used controls, such as media playback, Home controls and connectivity, as well as the ability to easily swipe between each. Users can now add controls from supported third-party apps into Control Center.

  • For the first time, you’ll be able to switch the controls at the bottom of the Lock Screen, including choosing from options available in the controls gallery or removing them entirely.

Photos Features

  • The updated Photos app in iOS 18 features a simplified, single view that includes the familiar grid, and new collections help users browse by themes. In addition, you can pin collections to keep favorites easily accessible.

  • A new carousel view presents highlights that update each day and feature favorite people, pets, places and more. Autoplaying content throughout the Photos app brings libraries to life, dislaying moments while browsing.

Messages Features

  • iMessage receives all-new text effects that amplify any letter, word, phrase or emoji with animation. Users can add formatting like bold, underline, italics and strikethrough.

  • For sending messages to contacts who do not have an Apple device, the Messages app now supports RCS for richer media and “more reliable group messaging” compared to SMS and MMS, the company claims.

  • iOS 18 introduces Messages via satellite for the times when cellular and Wi-Fi connections aren’t available. Messages via satellite automatically prompts users to connect to their nearest satellite directly from the Messages app to send and receive texts, emoji, and Tapbacks over iMessage and SMS; SMS availability will depend on your wireless carrier and fees may apply.

Mail Features

  • The built-in Mail app will add new ways for users to manage their inbox. On-device categorization organizes and sorts incoming email into “Primary” for personal and time-sensitive emails, “Transactions” for confirmations and receipts, “Updates” for news and social notifications, and “Promotions” for marketing emails and coupons.

  • A new digest view pulls together relevant emails from a business, allowing users to scan for what’s important in the moment.

Safari Features

  • In iOS 18, the Safari web browser can use AI to surface key information about a webpage (like a presenting a text summary of an article, or letting you listen to an artist’s track right from an article about the song or album).

  • Safari’s Reader has been redesigned to offer more ways to read articles, with a summary and table of contents included for longer articles.

Passwords App

  • New in iOS 18 will be the Passwords app, which Apple says builds on the foundation of Keychain (first introduced more than 25 years ago.) The new Passwords app provides a single place to access passwords, passkeys, Wi-Fi passwords and verification codes.

  • The app also includes alerts for users regarding common security weaknesses, such as passwords that are easily guessed or used multiple times, as well as those that appear in known data leaks.

Privacy Features

  • Locked and hidden apps provide a new way for users to keep information private, such as app notifications and content so they will not inadvertently be seen by others. Users can now lock an app, and for additional privacy they can hide it (moving it to a locked, hidden apps folder). When an app is locked or hidden, content like messages or emails inside the app are hidden from search, notifications and other places across the system.

  • iOS 18 lets you choose to share only specific contacts with an app. In addition, developers now have a way to connect third-party accessories with iPhone without letting an app see all the other devices on a user’s network, keeping a user’s devices private and enabling pairing.

Apple Intelligence: New AI Features

  • Deeply integrated into iOS 18 and built with privacy from the ground up, Apple Intelligence unlocks new ways for users to enhance their writing and communicate more effectively. With brand-new systemwide Writing Tools built into iOS 18, users can rewrite, proofread, and summarize text nearly everywhere they write, including Mail, Notes, Pages, and third-party apps.

  • New image capabilities make communication and self-expression even more fun. With Image Playground, users can create playful images in seconds, choosing from three styles: Animation, Illustration, or Sketch. Image Playground is easy to use, built right into apps like Messages, and also available in a dedicated app.

  • Memories in Photos lets users create the stories they want to see just by typing a description. Apple Intelligence will pick out the best photos and videos based on the description, craft a storyline with chapters based on themes identified from the photos, and arrange them into a movie with its own narrative arc. In addition, a new Clean Up tool can identify and remove distracting objects in the background of a photo — without accidentally altering the subject.

  • With the power of Apple Intelligence, Siri takes a major step forward, becoming even more natural, contextually relevant, and personal. Users can type to Siri, and switch between text and voice to communicate with Siri in whatever way feels right for the moment.

  • With Private Cloud Compute, Apple sets a new standard for privacy in AI, with the ability to flex and scale computational capacity between on-device processing, and larger, server-based models that run on dedicated Apple silicon servers. When requests are routed to Private Cloud Compute, data is not stored or made accessible to Apple and is only used to fulfill the user’s requests, and independent experts can verify this privacy.

  • Additionally, access to ChatGPT is integrated into Siri and systemwide Writing Tools across Apple’s platforms, allowing users to access its expertise — as well as its image- and document-understanding capabilities — without needing to jump between tools.

Additional Features in iOS 18

  • In Apple Maps, users can browse thousands of hikes across national parks in the U.S. and create their own custom walking routes (which can be accessed offline).

  • Game Mode enhances the gaming experience with more consistent frame rates, especially during long play sessions, and makes wireless accessories like AirPods and game controllers more responsive, according to Apple.

  • Users get new ways to pay with Apple Pay, including the ability to redeem rewards and access installments from their eligible credit or debit cards. With Tap to Cash, users can send and receive Apple Cash by simply holding two iPhone devices together. Tickets in Apple Wallet will show key event information like stadium details and recommended Apple Music playlists.

  • SharePlay with Apple Music allows even more users to share control of music playing from HomePod, Apple TV, or any Bluetooth-enabled speaker.

  • In the Notes app, formulas and equations entered while typing are solved instantly with Math Notes. In Journal, an all-new insights view helps users keep track of their journaling goals, and the ability to search and sort entries makes it easy to enjoy past memories. A Journal widget is now available for users to quickly start an entry from the Home Screen or Lock Screen, audio recordings are automatically transcribed, and users can export and print journal entries.

  • Calendar will show both events and tasks from Reminders. Users can create, edit, and complete reminders right from Calendar, and the updated month view provides an overview of events and tasks at a glance.

  • In the Health app, Medical ID has been redesigned to make it easier for first responders to find the most important information in an emergency.

  • Emergency SOS Live Video allows users to share context through streaming video and recorded media. In the middle of an emergency call, participating emergency dispatchers can send a request for a user to share live video or media from the user’s camera roll over a secure connection, making it easier and faster to get help.

  • The Home app introduces guest access, providing users with easy ways to grant guests control of select smart home accessories, set schedules for when guests can access the home, and more. For an effortless home entry experience, hands-free unlock with home keys leverages Ultra Wideband technology to allow users to instantly open supported entry locks as soon as they are six feet away from their door. With convenient updates to the Energy category, the Home app makes it easier for eligible users to access, understand, and make more informed decisions about their home electricity use.

  • Accessibility updates include Eye Tracking, a built-in option for navigating iPhone with just eyes; Music Haptics, a new way for users who are deaf or hard of hearing to experience music using the Taptic Engine in iPhone; and Vocal Shortcuts that enable users to perform tasks by making a custom sound.

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