iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

Our first glimpse of iOS 18 is getting closer as WWDC approaches. Here’s what we have heard so far about the iPhone’s next operating system.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

Key Takeaways

  • iOS 18 is expected to be released in September 2024, with WWDC 24 likely to reveal its features in June 2024 and a public beta in July 2024.
  • Rumors suggest that iOS 18 will focus on AI, with improvements expected for Siri, Messages, and other native Apple apps like Apple Music and Pages.
  • The compatibility of iPhones with iOS 18 is uncertain, but it is possible the iPhone XS and XS Max, as well as the iPhone XR may not be compatible.

With it now having been several months since iOS 17 first landed on iPhone models, there are now a number of rumors surrounding what is next for iPhone in terms of hardware and software. We are covering rumors for iPhone 16 separately, but here we are looking at what has been said about the upcoming features for iPhone's software.

The next major software release is expected to be iOS 18 and by the sounds of it, we can expect a focus on AI — something we have seen plenty of chatter about of late from the likes of Google, ChatGPT, Microsoft and Qualcomm. This is everything we have heard about iOS 18, including when we might expect it, what features it might offer and what iPhones are expected to be compatible.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

When is iOS 18 expected to come out?

Apple is a creature of habit, so we can make some educated guesses

Assuming Apple follows the same release pattern as it has done for the last couple of years, we are expecting to hear more official information about iOS 18 during the company's Worldwide Developer Conference. Typically, WWDC — as it is often referred to — takes place in early June, and this year is no different. The company has confirmed June 10 as the date to mark on our calendars, with a special event planned at Apple Park.

This main keynote is where Apple reveals new features for all its next major software releases across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. We also expect to see the first major revision to VisionOS, which powers the company's new Vision Pro headset.

Of course, WWDC is only when Apple details the upcoming features of the next version of iOS, with the final build of the software not usually available until the following September, around the launch of the new iPhone models. A public beta has been made available around July for the last couple of years and if this is the case for 2024 — which we expect it to be — then that is likely to be the first time you'll be able to try some of the new iOS 18 features. For now, nothing is confirmed but our best guess for now would be as follows:

  • July 2024: Public beta of iOS 18 released
  • September 2024: Final iOS 18 software released

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

What features are rumored to be coming for iOS 18?

So far, many rumors surrounding iOS 18 seem to be targeting the same message: AI.

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — who typically has a good track record with Apple leaks — has said iOS 18 is "more critical than usual" as the company races to "catch up with Google and OpenAI in generative AI". He went on to add that "iOS 18 is poised to bring such technology to the iPhone" and that it has to be a decent upgrade to counteract the lack of hardware advances expected for the iPhone 16 models.

Gurman has said iOS 18 is expected to boast "major new features and designs", as well as "security and performance improvements" and he claimed sources within Apple have called the upcoming operating system "ambitious and compelling".

No specific details have been revealed by Gurman as yet however, other than to say that generative AI — the sort of AI that ChatGPT and Copilot use — will come to iOS 18. He also mentioned that it should "improve how both Siri and the Messages app can field questions and auto-complete sentences", and says that Apple has been testing generative AI features with other apps too, like Apple Music and Pages.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

Elsewhere, it has been rumored that Apple is investing in AI servers and it's also rumored that the company is planning on incorporating large language models into Siri. This is what ChatGPT is trained on for example, and it would, in theory, allow Siri to respond more like a human. There's talk of a deeper integration with the Shortcuts app for example, which could mean that Siri would be able to automatically complete some of the more complex tasks you can setup in Shortcuts. There are also examples like asking a GIF to be created from your last five photos, for example, though we suspect there will be other use cases too, hopefully like Google's Magic Editor.

Other more recent rumors suggest that Apple may enter a partnership with rival tech giant Google, utilizing Gemini as the basis for iOS's coming AI features. Given Apple's emphasis on user privacy in recent years, the company is in a precarious position where it must toe the line between the creation of state-of-the-art large language models, and its existing promise of not scraping the data of its user base.

RCS messaging is finally coming to the iPhone

In terms of other features, Apple has confirmed that iOS will gain support for RCS messaging this year, and there's no better time to introduce the protocol than with the launch of iOS 18.

"Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe the 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," an Apple spokesperson told Techradar back in November.

The feature should deliver a better cross-platform messaging experience when using iMessage. Currently, blue bubbles — which appear when you're messaging iPhone to iPhone — allow for features like read receipts and typing indicators. When someone with an Android device sends a text message to an iPhone, a green bubble appears with the information and that's it. No fancy features. RCS support should change this, though green bubbles themselves won't be going away.

Another rumor that has been making the rounds in recent weeks is that Apple will finally loosen its grip on the rigid home screen and its grid of icons. As reported by MacRumors, iOS 18 might finally allow us to place our apps anywhere on the home screen, without the system automatically justifying them towards the top left-hand corner.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

Will iOS 18 bring us the rumored VisionOS-style redesign?

It'd be the first since iOS 7, released over 10 years ago

Since the announcement and release of Apple's Vision Pro headset earlier this year, there has been much speculation whether the company will port over its VisionOS design language to its other platforms. VisionOS builds upon the modern visual design of iOS, with its glassy surfaces and distinct lack of skeuomorphism.

VisionOS does, however, introduce additional depth to the interface, with enhanced lighting and a new feel to various UI surfaces. It would make a ton of sense for Apple to unify its design language across its platforms. If it elects to do so, iOS 18 might prove to be the biggest visual overhaul of the operating system since iOS 7 in 2013.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

What iPhones are expected to be compatible with iOS 18?

As with everything else here, it's not yet known what iPhones will be compatible with iOS 18. We can speculate, of course, but we won't know with any certainty which models will be compatible until WWDC 24. With iOS 17 dropping support for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X — all of which were released in 2017 — it is possible it will be the 2018 models on the chopping block for iOS 18.

If that is the case, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR won't be compatible. It is also possible that with quite a big cut for iOS 17, Apple will give those older devices another year of life before they get the chop.

For now, we suspect the following models will be compatible with iOS 18:

  • 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 mini
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone SE (2022)
  • iPhone SE (2020)

Overall, iOS 18 is sounding to be a pretty significant release for the iPhone. Rumors continue to swirl over just how Apple will implement AI into its OS, how much the company will be willing to open up the home screen to customization, and whether we might even see a broader redesign à la iOS 7. We won't have to wait much longer, thankfully, as June 10 is right around the corner.

iOS 18 rumors: Which new iPhone features to look out for at WWDC

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