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The best new features in iOS 18

Ana Altchek   

The best new features in iOS 18
  • Apple unveiled iOS 18 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, featuring major updates.
  • iOS 18 includes a new home screen design, enhanced iMessage features, and a revamped Photos App.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference took place on June 10, and it included some pretty big updates.

The tech giant unveiled updates to a wide range of apps and features, including Mail, Photos, iMessage, and Apple Wallet. As expected, Apple also revealed some new updates to its generative artificial intelligence efforts.

Apple's iPhone operating system, iOS 18, was a major topic of discussion at the event, and it's expected to be released later this year.

Here are some of the changes we're most excited about iOS 18.

A new home screen design

Apple iOS 18 will let you customize your home screen wallpaper, app icons, and widgets. Users will be able to move their widgets to better fit their backgrounds, rather than lining them up from the top and filling each space before creating a new row.

The update also offers a new customization sheet that lets you tint app icons with different colors. It also added Dark Mode, which tints apps.

iMessage is becoming more interactive

Director of internet technologies product marketing Ronak Shah said this is a "huge year for Tapbacks." iOS 18 will now allow users to tap back on a message with any emoji or sticker. The update brings it closer to other messaging platforms like Google Chat, Slack, or WhatsApp.

The new update also lets you schedule messages in advance, which is a popular feature on apps like Slack.

You'll also have more ways to express tone over text with the ability to bold, italicize, underline, or strikethrough any text. You can also visually amplify messages with text effects like making them jitter, bloom, or shake. Shah said some words and phrases will automatically suggest a text effect, so you can quickly select it.

You can cut down on time spent searching for photos

Apple is bringing its biggest redesign to Photos with iOS 18, according to senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. The app will be unified into a single view with a photo grid at the top and your library organized by theme at the bottom.

With the new update, you can declutter your app from things like screenshots by filtering them out. You can also select months or years to quickly jump to specific dates.

Collections organizes your photos into specific topics, such as Recent Days, People and Pets, and Trips. You can also pin specific collections that are most important to you or that you plan to access frequently.

No one has to see that app you have

Apple is offering new ways to improve app privacy with iOS 18, and one of the new features lets you add apps to a locked folder to keep others from seeing them on your phone.

The update also allows you to require Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode to access certain apps. Information from inside the app will also be hidden from other places in the system, like search, notifications, or call history.

Tap to exchange Apple Cash

Apple Pay just gained a leg up on Venmo and Zelle. The new Tap to Cash update makes transactions more seamless than ever by allowing users to exchange Apple cash with each other without sharing a phone number or email address. All you have to do is hold your iPhone against another to send a payment to it.

Apple Maps is becoming more hiker-friendly

Apple Maps will have topographic maps with detailed trail networks and hiking routes with iOS 18. The new update includes all 63 US national parks. It can be saved to your phone and accessed offline while you're in a remote area. It offers turn-by-turn voice guidance to give you directions along the way.

Apple Intelligence

Apple will be integrating a much-anticipated generative AI system into iOS 18. The new technology "harnesses the power of Apple silicon" to "create language and images, take action across apps, and draw from personal context to simplify and accelerate everyday tasks," Apple said in a statement.

The update will give Siri a new look that has an "elegant glowing light" that wraps around the edge of your screen. The tool will have better language understanding capabilities. It will also add systemwide Writing Tools and Image Playground, which lets users create playful images and use them in messages.

Apple also announced its partnership with OpenAI, which will let users opt into integrating ChatGPT into Apple's software. This will allow users to use ChatGPT through Siri or when completing tasks within apps on their iPhone.