iOS 18 could deliver a small but important camera upgrade to help you take pro snaps

iPhone 14 Pro Max on a yellow background
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

When Apple talked about iOS 18 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company did something very unusual: it opened up its normally restrictive operating system in all sorts of interesting ways. One of those new freedoms has just come to light, and it could be excellent news for fans of iPhone photography.

As spotted by MacRumors, iOS 18 will let you launch a third-party camera app directly from the lock screen. Prior to this change you could add a camera button to the lock screen, but it would only open Apple’s own first-party camera app. Now, you’ll have a lot more flexibility to get straight into the app you want and start snapping away.

This isn’t the only way that Apple is planning to open up its iPhone operating system in iOS 18. The company has provided tools for developers to add their own icons to the Control Center, which comes as part of a much larger overhaul of the quick-access panel. This will provide a much easier way to launch apps and even provide specific functionality.

Getting in on the action

iPhone 15 Pro review Action button UI handheld

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

In fact, the changes coming to iOS 18 go even further than that. That’s because Apple is expanding the Action button’s capabilities so that it will be able to open Control Center items. Therefore, if you’ve added a third-party camera to the Control Center, you'll be able to assign that item to the Action button, giving you a swift, no-nonsense way to launch a camera app without needing to first unlock your phone and swipe your way over to it (interestingly, this is something that photo app Halide can already do).

To achieve all this, Apple has provided an SDK (software development kit) that allows for some interesting tricks. For example, developers can use it to let users go directly to the camera tool within their app, even if the camera is not the app’s main feature. That means that apps like TikTok or Instagram could create buttons using this SDK that would open app’s camera rather than just its home page.

It might sound like a small change on the surface, but gaining access to your favorite camera app from the Lock Screen or with a quick press of the Action button could make a real difference. And of course, you’re not limited to just applying this change to photographic purposes – you could feasibly add any third-party app to the Action button by assigning it a place in the Control Center. And that can only be a good thing for Apple fans.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.