iOS 18: What’s coming in the next iPhone software

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At WWDC overnight Apple took the lid off all the big features for its latest version of the iPhone operating system.

iOS 18 is set to launch in Spring (right about the time we’ll see the next iPhone models arrive), and has a number of customisation, security and performance improvements. It also promises to deliver “Apple Intelligence”, or Apple’s take on AI for its devices.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of features coming to the next iOS version. Let’s break it down.

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Dedicated Passwords app

Look, it’s not the sexiest of the announcements Apple made for iOS, but it’s likely the one to have the biggest impact. Apple is launching a dedicated Passwords app as part of iOS 18.

This app will mean iOS users don’t need to go hunting around in the settings to find their passwords when some app doesn’t correctly integrate keychain access.

It will also store passkeys, Wi-Fi passwords and multi-factor authentication codes, and will alert you if your password is rubbish or has been exposed in a data leak.

Like many Apple developments, it’s not really anything new. But it should be easy to use and accessible, making it a big step forward for iOS users.

More customisation

It’s hardly revolutionary, but you will be able to better customise the look and feel of your phone’s apps and widgets.

The control centre also gets an update, so you can set easy access to the things you need the most often. This means you can set the shortcut controls on your lock screen, and will also open up the functionality of the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro.

You’ll also be able to hide apps, so others looking at your phone can’t find or access it if they have their hands on your phone.

Better messaging

The Messages app will support RCS, which means you’ll get a better messaging experience with Android users.

You’ll also be able to tap back with any emoji you want, or amplify words within messages.

iOS 18 also adds Messages via satellite, when you have no Wi-Fi or mobile coverage, and it’s all encrypted.

Apple Intelligence for better Siri (and more)

“Better” is quite often subjective, so we’ll wait and see just how big an improvement this offers. But Apple has leveraged AI to introduce new system-wide writing tools to proofread, rewrite and summarise text anywhere on the phone, including Mail, Notes, Pages and third-party apps.

There is also generative image creation in three styles (animation, illustration or sketch) that can be used through a dedicated app or directly through Messages.

The memories feature in Photos will let you use natural language to describe the stories you want to create, and the AI will pick out the best photos and video and craft a storyline – complete with chapters – that meets the description.

But the most exciting part of all this is the upgrades to Siri. With the introduction of Apple Intelligence, Siri gets a deeper integration with your iPhone, with support for both spoken and written instructions.

It will be contextually aware of what you are doing, and have a deeper understanding of you, to be able offer a better personalised experience.

Of course, that raises privacy questions, so it’s not a surprise Privacy was a big focus for Apple’s keynote

Private Cloud Compute

While Apple Intelligence promises a better personalised AI experience, Apple has gone to great lengths to ensure your data is kept private. A lot of AI processing is done on-device, but what needs more computing power is funnelled through what Apple is calling “Private Cloud Compute”.

There’s an interesting blog post those goes a bit into the technical aspects of this, but effectively it says that when Apple Intelligence needs to use a cloud-based AI system, it keeps your details private.

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A bunch of app-specific updates

There was a lot of info in the keynote, so here’s a breakdown of some app-specific updates

  • Photos has had a full makeover. There’s a simplified single view, and new collections that allow you to group photos without having to create albums.
  • Apple Maps has been updated to show hiking trails in the US (though no mention of other countries. You can create your own custom walking route, though, which should be usable globally, and then store the map offline and add personal notes.
  • Game Mode  comes to iOS, giving more consistent frame rates for longer gaming sessions. Apple also promises better responsiveness for wireless accessories like AirPods and game controllers.
  • You can use Apple Wallet to pay another iPhone user with Tap to Cash by simply holding two iPhone devices together.
  • Apple Music allows even more users to share control of music with Shareplay, playing from HomePod, Apple TV, or any Bluetooth-enabled speaker.
  • Using Apple Intelligence, the Notes app can now solve formulas and equations entered while typing.
  • Journal introduces an all-new insights view to help users keep track of their journaling goals. You can also search and sort entries makes it easy to enjoy past memories.
  • Calendar becomes even more helpful by showing 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. 
  • The Medical ID in the Health app has been redesigned to make it even easier for first responders to find the most important information in an emergency. There’s also better tracking of health data during pregnancy, as it will make adjustments and recommendations to reflect changes in their physical and mental health.
  • The Home app now provides users with easy ways to grant guests control of select smart home accessories, set schedules for when guests can access the home, and automatically unlock smart entry locks as you approach their door.

Pricing and availability

iOS 18 will be a free update some time in Spring, likely right alongside the launch of the next iPhone models.

Not all features will launch at the same time though, and not everything will launch in Australia.

You will need an iPhone Xs or later to get the update at all, and the Apple Intelligence functionality will be limited to iPhone 15 Pro models and later.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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