iOS 18 tipped to get a visual redesign this year – with macOS following later

iOS 17 features
iOS 17 launched last year (Image credit: Apple)

The design elements in iOS don't often change – and when they do, it's not usually by much – but the upcoming iOS 18 software could indeed have a significantly updated look, according to one well-placed source.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (via 9to5Mac), Apple "is indeed working to update the design of iOS as early as this year". That doesn't give us much detail to work with, but it does suggest there will be noticeably different visuals. A recent rumor also suggests that iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17.

Gurman – usually reliable when it comes to predicting Apple's moves – was in part responding to rumors that iOS 18 would borrow some design inspiration from visionOS on the Apple Vision Pro. That "total overhaul" isn't happening, says Gurman, though it sounds as though Apple may get part of the way there in 2024.

New versions of iOS are usually unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, so we don't have too long to wait to see what Apple's been working on – and how much different in style it is to iOS 17.

An "ambitious and compelling" update

iPhone 15 front handheld angled

iOS 18 will be coming to the iPhone 15 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The biggest visual overhaul we've ever seen for iOS came with iOS 7, launched back in 2013: skeuomorphism (where digital elements are designed like their real world equivalents) was out, and a much more modern look was in.

In the decade since, app icons and menus have been tweaked and adjusted, but there hasn't been what you would describe as a full-scale redesign. We'll have to wait and see what iOS 18 brings when WWDC 2024 gets underway.

Gurman has previously gone on record as saying that iOS 18 is going to be an "ambitious and compelling" upgrade, so it sounds as though there's a lot to look forward to. As with everything else in tech lately, generative AI is likely to play an important role – with Siri and iOS set to be updated with some big new AI-driven capabilities.

According to Gurman, a visual refresh is also coming to macOS, though it'll lag behind iOS: the updates Apple is planning to the macOS design are apparently still in the early stages, and won't be completed until 2025 or 2026.

You might also like

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.