The Apple Notes app could seriously step up its game in iOS 18 with these two upgrades

A woman sitting at a table, holding her phone and smiling while looking at it
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The Apple Notes app is a cultural fixture as well as an essential tool, and it looks like Apple is going to supercharge the iconic app in iOS 18, the next major update for Apple’s flagship mobile operating system. iOS 18 is expected to be previewed alongside the latest versions of its other platform operating systems at WWDC 2024, Apple’s software-centric conference primarily aimed at developers, which kicks off on June 8.

Reports from AppleInsider are that two impressive features are expected to be revealed. First is support for audio recordings directly within the app -  akin to the Voice Memos app, but better integrated. This feature is currently being developed for iOS 18 and macOS 15, and a version for the newest iteration of iPadOS can be expected soon after. 

The feature will give users basic playback features for audio recordings, letting them record, play, and save entries right in the Notes app. The recordings will be embedded into specific notes that users choose, which can also include text and images along with the recording. Creatives will no doubt find this useful for making multimedia entries, and more casual users might find it a great way to make digital scrapbooks. It will also let users make more complex entries to detail the audio they save, being able to add lengthy descriptions or context entries. 

The user interface of the app will be visually similar to the existing Voice Memos app, with the new audio recording feature being presented with similar graphical representations of the captured audio. These new in-app audio notes recordings will be available on all devices connected to iCloud and running at least iOS 18 or macOS 15.

Pre-release versions of the operating systems to be presented at WWDC 2024 also apparently reference a new ‘Math Notes’ feature which will enable the Notes app to interact with the Calculator app. Presumably, this will allow the Notes app to enlist the Calculator app to make calculations as users are entering them in Notes, though there’s no indication of how complex these calculations might be. 

More features of this sort are expected to follow the Math Notes feature, and the introduction of the Math Notes feature is slated to coincide with Apple’s debut of a redesigned macOS Calculator app. Users will likely be able to prompt the Math Notes feature from the Calculator app using a designated button or option, but we will have to wait a little while longer to see the exact plans Apple has in store for Math Notes.

Man taking a picture of the presentation at the conference hall using smartphone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Matveev Aleksandr)

Apple steals a note from Microsoft

These features have both been a part of OneNote, Microsoft’s proprietary note-taking app, a favorite among many who use educational curricula and materials, and those who work in mathematical notation. It also happens to rank highly in terms of popularity in both the iOS App Store and the macOS App Store, the former being highly regarded in user reviews and the latter having been awarded Apple's Editors' Choice award. It’s the cohort of people who find OneNote so useful and crucial to their work that Apple might hope to entice them with its Math Notes feature.

The Notes app may have begun as a humble confidant for shopping lists and late-night thoughts, but it looks like it’s growing up and becoming a more capable app to assist users in more ways. It’s still very popular as the native notetaking app for Apple products, and Apple is understandably making moves to hold on to its staple status. 

Again, it’s expected that both the embedded audio recording feature and the Math Notes feature will be premiered at WWDC 2024, but Apple has canceled or delayed features that have been rumored to be in the pipeline before. We won’t know for sure until we hear about it on stage at WWDC in June.


Computing Writer

Kristina is a UK-based Computing Writer, and is interested in all things computing, software, tech, mathematics and science. Previously, she has written articles about popular culture, economics, and miscellaneous other topics.

She has a personal interest in the history of mathematics, science, and technology; in particular, she closely follows AI and philosophically-motivated discussions.