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iOS 18: What to Expect From 'Biggest' Update in iPhone's History

Wednesday March 27, 2024. 07:10 PM , from MacRumors
At least some Apple software engineers continue to believe that iOS 18 will be the 'biggest' update in the iPhone's history, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone.

'The iOS 18 update is expected to be the most ambitious overhaul of the iPhone's software in its history, according to people working on the upgrade,' wrote Gurman, in a report focused on WWDC 2024. Apple recently said that its annual developers conference will run from June 10 through June 14, and iOS 18 will be a key announcement.

iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more customizable Home Screen and other user interface design changes, new features in apps like Apple Maps and Freeform, additional accessibility features, and more.

Smarter Siri and Generative AI

iOS 18 is rumored to have new generative AI features for Siri, Spotlight, Shortcuts, Apple Music, Messages, Health, Numbers, Pages, Keynote, and more, according to sources such as Gurman and The Information's Wayne Ma.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly teased that the company is working on generative AI, and plans to share details 'later this year,' and Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak also hinted at AI this week in a social media post about WWDC 2024.

Generative AI surged in popularity in late 2022, when OpenAI released ChatGPT, a chatbot that can respond to questions and other text prompts. The company has also expanded into generative AI tools for images and videos. Other companies like Google and Microsoft have also pushed into the generative AI space, and the technology is quickly evolving.

iOS 18 is not expected to include Apple's own ChatGPT-like chatbot. Instead, Apple has reportedly held discussions with companies such as OpenAI, Google, and China's Baidu about potential generative AI partnerships, which could lead to other chatbots being integrated into iOS 18, although Apple's exact plans are unclear.

Some generative AI features might be exclusive to iPhone 16 Pro models, which are rumored to have a Neural Engine with 'significantly' more cores.

More Customizable Home Screen

iOS 18 will feature a 'more customizable' Home Screen, according to Gurman.

MacRumors exclusively reported that iOS 18 will finally allow users to place app icons anywhere on the Home Screen grid. This means that users will be able to create blank spaces, columns, and rows between app icons. This basic feature has long been available on Android smartphones, and now Apple is bringing it to the iPhone.

iPhone users can already customize the Home Screen with apps such as Shortcuts and Widgetsmith, which can be used to create 'blank' app icons and widgets, but Apple's official solution will be much more convenient.

We expect iOS 18 to include additional customization options beyond icon arrangement, as part of the biggest Home Screen revamp in years.

New Apple Maps Features

MacRumors recently revealed two potential new Apple Maps features coming with iOS 18: custom routes and topographic maps.

With the custom routes feature, Apple Maps users would be able to choose specific roads to travel on while navigating, for reasons such as familiarity or scenic views. This feature is expected to be available in the U.S. only at launch. Google Maps already allows users to create custom routes on the web, and then view them on an iPhone.

Topographic maps first debuted on the Apple Watch last year with watchOS 10, and code suggests that the feature will be expanded to the iPhone, Mac, and Vision Pro with iOS 18, macOS 15, and visionOS 2. These maps include details such as trails, contour lines, elevation, and points of interest for hiking and other outdoor uses.

RCS Support in Messages App

In November, Apple announced that it would support the cross-platform messaging standard RCS in the Messages app on the iPhone starting 'later' in 2024, so it will likely be an iOS 18 feature based on that timeframe.

RCS support should result in the following improvements to the default messaging experience between iPhones and Android devices:

Higher-resolution photos and videos

Audio messages

Typing indicators

Read receipts

Wi-Fi messaging between iPhones and Android devices

Improved group chats, including the ability for iPhone users to leave a conversation that includes Android users

These modern features are already available for iPhone-to-iPhone conversations with blue bubbles, via iMessage, and many of the features are also available in third-party messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram. RCS support on the iPhone will extend the features to green bubbles in the Messages app.

Design Changes

Apple plans to update the design of the iOS user interface as 'early as this year,' according to Gurman. He previously said that iOS 18 would have 'major new features and designs,' but he has yet to provide any specific details.

More Rumors

iOS 18 may have new accessibility features tied to VoiceOver, Live Speech, and Text Size.

AirPods Pro are expected to get a new hearing aid mode with iOS 18.

iOS 18 may have an updated Freeform app with a new 'Scenes' feature.

'Apple ID' is expected to be rebranded to 'Apple Account' starting with iOS 18.

iOS 18 is rumored to be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17.For additional information, read our iOS 18 roundup.Related Roundup: iOS 18This article, "iOS 18: What to Expect From 'Biggest' Update in iPhone's History" first appeared on MacRumors.comDiscuss this article in our forums

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