iOS 18 could be one of the most interesting software releases of 2024, with early leaks going as far as to say that it could be the biggest software update in iPhone history, period. Given that we described iOS 17 as "one of the best iOS updates we've seen in years" in our iOS 17 review, that's an extremely exciting prospect.
That said, we don’t know all much about iOS 18 just yet, at least in terms of confirmed features. What little we have heard, you’ll find below, along with information on the possible iOS 18 release date, as well as the phones we expect to be supported.
Further down, you’ll find a list of the key things we want from iOS 18 to make it the best update possible. We’ll also be adding leaks and news to this article whenever new information emerges, so check back soon to stay informed.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next major iOS release
- When is it out? Probably September 2024
- How much will it cost? It will be a free upgrade
iOS 18: predicted release date
Based on past form, iOS 18 will almost certainly launch in mid-September 2024, given that every major iOS release from iOS 6 onwards has started rolling out between September 13 and September 20 of their release year. This launch will probably coincide (roughly) with the launch of the iPhone 16 line and the Apple Watch 10.
However, you won’t have to wait until September to see some of iOS 18’s features, or even to give it a try, because Apple typically announces new iOS versions at WWDC, which is generally held in early June. Indeed, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has now confirmed that several iOS 18-specific AI features are on track for a big unveiling at WWDC 2024.
Here, we'll get our first look at many of the key features, and shortly after that Apple typically releases developer previews, followed by public betas. So, if you don’t mind a few bugs, you’ll probably be able to try an unfinished version of iOS 18 long before September.
iOS 18: expected compatibility
We don’t yet know which phones will support iOS 18, but for reference, iOS 17 works on every iPhone from the iPhone XR and iPhone XS onwards. Apple dropped support for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, all of which landed in the same year as each other (2017).
So, it’s likely that with iOS 18, Apple will drop support for iPhones released in 2018, namely the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. That would mean you’d need an iPhone 11 or newer to get iOS 18. While this is the most likely scenario based on recent history, but this is just speculation for now.
iOS 18: news and leaks
There aren’t many iOS 18 leaks yet, but one thing we have heard is that Apple is spending big on AI servers and features – and that the first fruits of these efforts will be ready in later 2024.
Apple GPT – the company’s rumored ChatGPT rival – is apparently being worked on internally, and it could help reinvent both Siri and AppleCare. As well as an AI chatbot, Apple is also reportedly working on image generating AI, and both of these AI features could potentially get baked into Siri, to upgrade Apple’s increasingly disappointing digital assistant.
Similarly, we’ve heard that Apple’s AI-powered Siri assistant could be unveiled as soon as WWDC 2024, which is when we’re expecting to get our first official look at iOS 18. But reportedly it might only work with the iPhone 16 and later, suggesting this feature might need dedicated hardware.
We don’t know much about how Siri might improve, but one example given is that it could replace the Shortcuts app, working as a simple way to complete complex tasks. As an example, you might be able to ask Siri to create a GIF from the last five photos you've taken and then send them to a contact, all with a simple voice command.
Elsewhere, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has claimed that Apple has internally described iOS 18 as a major upgrade, calling it "ambitious and compelling" with some "major new features and designs".
The same source has gone on the record to say that the visual design of iOS 18 could be significantly upgraded, though it won't be copying visionOS, which has also been rumored. We might be able to look forward to some new aesthetic flourishes in 2024, as well as everything else.
However, Apple also reportedly put a freeze on developing iOS 18 in November 2024, in order to iron out glitches. This is a rare occurrence, which could suggest some of the planned features are proving problematic. That in turn might mean some features are delayed or canceled, but that remains to be seen.
In January 2024, though, Gurman returned to say that iOS 18 could be “one of the biggest iOS updates – if not the biggest – in the company's history,” with Apple employees regarding the upcoming update as a major gear change for the iPhone.
iOS 18: what we want to see
There are a number of things that we’d like to see in iOS 18, including the following five improvements.
1. A worldwide rollout of all the key features
One of the headline features of iOS 17 was Live Voicemail, yet this is only actually available in the US and Canada, making iOS 17 and by extension the iPhone 15 essentially worse outside the US and Canada.
It’s an unfortunate situation, and while Google is arguably even more guilty of locking phone features to the US, Apple could still do a lot better here.
So for iOS 18, we want any and all features to be made available globally, and if that’s really not possible then we want Apple to be more transparent about that, rather than burying the availability in small print.
2. Compatibility with Android for Check In
Another habit Apple has that we’re not fond of is locking Android out of features like iMessage and SharePlay. This is unfortunate, but somewhat understandable. Where it becomes less understandable though is when those features involve safety, as is the case with Check In.
This iOS 17 feature is an automated way to let loved ones know you’ve arrived safely home, or conversely let them know you might not be safe if you haven’t checked in – and in the latter case enable select people to see where your phone is.
But it requires both the sender and recipient to have iOS 17 in order to function, meaning not only can Android users not actively use the feature (understandable) they also can’t receive Check In notifications from others (less so).
So with iOS 18, we’d like to see Apple open the feature up to Android users, so that even if they can’t automate their own check ins, they can receive these automated messages and alerts from friends and family members using iOS.
3. An AI upgrade for Siri
Rumors suggest Apple is going to heavily feature AI in iOS 18, and it’s likely that Siri will be one of the main recipients of this. We certainly hope so, because the likes of ChatGPT make Siri in its current form look incredibly dated. Particularly now that ChatGPT Voice is available for free on iOS.
These Siri upgrades could perhaps allow for more natural, fluid conversation, as well as allowing Siri to carry out far more complex tasks than simply Googling something or turning your smart lights on.
4. Place the cursor in the middle of a word with a tap
One feature we really wish Apple would borrow from Android is the ability to simply tap in the center of a word to place the cursor there, so that you can then easily correct typos.
Currently, to get to the center of a word you have to hold the space bar and drag, which works well enough but is substantially slower. We don’t expect this in iOS 18, but it would be nice to see.
5. Deep but thoughtful AI integration
Beyond Siri, we hope Apple bakes AI into other parts of iOS 18, but we want this done thoughtfully, rather than with half-baked or gimmicky features.
In particular, we’d like to see photography given a big AI toolset, to help with the editing of images. We’re thinking things like Google’s Magic Eraser and Magic Editor tools, which let you move or remove things in photos. And it'd also be interesting to see spatial photos and videos become more accessible, so that they're not just designed for Apple Vision Pro owners.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.
- Axel MetzSenior Staff Writer