iOS 18 Rumor Recap: Over 20 New Features to Expect as WWDC Nears

iOS 18 is just around the corner, with Apple set to unveil the software update during its WWDC keynote next month. Below, we recap new features and changes rumored for iOS 18, which is projected to be the “biggest” update in the iPhone’s history.

iOS 18 is rumored to include new 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 Calculator, additional accessibility features, and much more.

WWDC 2024 will begin with Apple’s keynote on June 10 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, and the iOS 18 beta should be made available to members of the Apple Developer Program immediately following the presentation. A public beta is typically released in July, and the update should be widely released to all users in September.

For additional information, read our iOS 18 roundup.

Smarter Siri and Generative AI

iOS 18 is rumored to have new AI features for Siri, Spotlight, Shortcuts, Apple Music, Messages, Health, Numbers, Pages, Keynote, and more, according to sources such as Bloomberg‘s Mark 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 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 an Apple-designed chatbot, but a partnership with OpenAI will reportedly be announced at WWDC.

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.

It was also reported that iOS 18 will allow users to change the color of app icons.

New Accessibility Features

Earlier this month, Apple previewed many new accessibility features coming later this year with software updates like iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and visionOS 2. The announcement came one day ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Some of the new features coming to the iPhone include Eye Tracking, Vehicle Motion Cues, Music Haptics, and Vocal Shortcuts. CarPlay will also be getting more accessibility features with iOS 18, including Sound Recognition, which will allow drivers or passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing to turn on alerts to be notified of car horns and sirens.

New Apple Maps Features

MacRumors previously 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

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

These features are already available for iMessage and in many 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.

More Rumors Per App

Apple Music: With iOS 18, Apple Music will reportedly be able to auto-generate playlists, and there is also a rumor about smarter song transitions.

Calculator: iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 are rumored to feature a revamped Calculator app with several new features, including a sidebar that lists recent calculations, an improved interface for converting units, integration with the Notes app, and more. That means the Calculator app will finally be available on iPads.

Calendar: Two apps rumored to be integrated on iOS 18 are Calendar and Reminders. This would allow users to schedule and organize reminders directly within the Calendars app, without needing to open the Reminders app.

Freeform: iOS 18 is rumored to add a new “Scenes” option to Apple’s drawing app Freeform. This feature would allow users to select specific sections (“scenes”) on the canvas for easier navigation.

Health: Apple is reportedly planning new AI-powered features for its Health app, but no specific details are known yet.

Keynote, Numbers, and Pages: Alongside iOS 18, Apple reportedly plans to update its iWork suite of productivity apps with new generative AI features for auto-generating slides in Keynote, writing faster in Pages, and more.

Mail, Photos, and Fitness: These apps will reportedly be “overhauled” with iOS 18. AI-powered photo retouching is reportedly coming to the Photos app with iOS 18, and the Mail app could gain suggested replies to emails, but no other specific details are known yet for these apps.

Messages: In addition to RCS support, it has been rumored that the Messages app will use generative AI to auto-complete sentences more effectively, and to auto-generate custom emojis for users based on the content of messages.

Notes and Voice Memos: With iOS 18, the Notes app is expected to be able to display mathematical notation, allowing users to include more types of algebraic equations and formulas in notes. The app is also rumored to gain a built-in audio recording tool, eliminating the need to switch over to the Voice Memos app. In addition, both Notes and Voice Memos could gain the ability to transcribe audio.

Safari: iOS 18 is likely to add a browsing assistant to Safari, which could summarize web pages and more. A new “Web Eraser” feature that would allow users to remove certain elements from web pages has also been rumored.

Shortcuts: With iOS 18, users will reportedly be able to automate complex tasks more easily with the Shortcuts app.While they are not dedicated apps, it has also been rumored that generative AI technology will allow the iPhone’s virtual assistant Siri and built-in search tool Spotlight to respond to more complex questions and search queries.

Related Roundup: iOS 18

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