iOS 18 could be one of the biggest iPhone software updates in years


Apple is hard at work on the upcoming release of its latest operating system for the iPhone.

So, when will iOS 18 be available, which iPhone models will it support, and what new features will it introduce? Here’s all the latest news and rumours about iOS 18.

When will iOS 18 be released?

Apple usually announces a new version of iOS at its Worldwide Developers Conference, more commonly known as WWDC.

This almost always takes place in early July, with the iOS announcement typically at the opening keynote on a Monday. With that in mind, an announcement on 3 June or 10 June 2024 is possible.

Assuming iOS 18 is revealed around then, we’ll probably have to wait until September 2024 for the final version. Apple tends to announce a release date during its main iPhone event, so the iPhone 16 models can ship running the new software.

If you can’t wait that long, there is the opportunity to join the Apple Beta Program, which grants you access to the unfinished versions of the latest iOS builds.

It’s important to note that these iterations of the software are still under development and often have bugs and other issues. So, we’d only recommend that route if you’re confident of working with beta software or have an iPhone that you don’t mind being a test machine.  

Which iPhones will iOS 18 support?

Apple hasn’t confirmed which iPhones will be compatible with iOS 18. But if the rumours of AI capabilities are true, it may spell the end for some older models.

When iOS 17 arrived in 2023, it left the iPhone 8 and iPhone X models off the list. This time around we could (although it’s certainly not guaranteed) bid farewell to the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR and iPhone SE (2nd Gen). But we’ll have to wait and see. 

It could be the case that those iPhones do get iOS 18, but not all of the features will be supported. This is something Apple has done in the past, so there’s still hope if you use an older model. 

Here’s the list of devices that are supported by iOS 17:

iPhone 15

iPhone 15 Plus

iPhone 15 Pro

iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 14

iPhone 14 Plus

iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 12

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 11

iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone XS

iPhone XS Max

iPhone XR

iPhone SE (2nd gen or later)

The iPhone 15 Pro will definitely get iOS 18Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

What new features will be in iOS 18?

It won’t be until WWDC in June that we’ll get any concrete announcements from Apple about what we’ll see in iOS 18. But there’s already a few rumours that this could be a significant upgrade over iOS 17. 

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said in a January 2024 newsletter, “I’m told that the new operating system is seen within the company as one of the biggest iOS updates – if not the biggest in the company’s history”.  

So, what compelling new features will iOS 18 include? That’s not yet clear, but there are a few rumours.

RCS support

We do know that Apple is set to introduce support for RCS cross-platform messaging, which will improve the experience between iOS and Android devices. 

The company issued a statement in late 2023 that confirmed this by stating, ‘Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.’

RCS is a new standard aimed to replace SMS/MMS as the default messaging standard across all platforms. It should integrate with existing messaging apps, such as iMessage and Google Messages, making it simple to share texts, group messages, photos, have typing indicators so you know someone is replying. It will also enable read receipts with friends, family and colleagues, no matter what device or app you’re using. 

AI boost for Siri and other apps

There could also be a huge upgrade to the often Siri virtual assistant. In recent years, this service has fallen behind Alexa and the Google Assistant in many people’s estimations, but the introduction of generative AI could transform Siri for the better.

Gurman didn’t reveal exactly what would make iOS 18 such a big update, but it’ll presumably revolve around AI. And the Google Pixel 8 & 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 series give some clues as to what it could involve.

A lot of this focuses on photos, with the ability to remove subjects from a image, move/resize them or fill in any missing areas using generative AI. iOS already has the ability to lift people out of an image and then use them as stickers in messages, so it feels like some of the groundwork has already been done. 

An Apple version of Google’s Best Take feature wouldn’t be out of the question, or potentially some of the translation, transcription or visual search features on the S24 phones.

AI fever could also reach other apps like Messages, where the suggested replies could be improved, Notes would also benefit from AI search capabilities, not to mention Apple Music gaining the ability to create more tailored automatic playlists.

Our sister publication Macworld has reported on how iOS 18 looks to be the start of Apple’s push on generative AI, so hopefully it will bring some interesting and useful new improvements when it arrives later this year. 

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