iOS 18: Possible release date, new features, supported devices and more

ios 18
(Image credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)
iOS 18 latest news

Updated May 5
• Apple introducing AI-assisted transcribing and summarizing with iOS 18

Apple's on-device AI could summarize text messages and web pages as well as generate simple replies.
• The Calendar and Reminders apps should have tighter integration in iOS 18.
Safari may get upgrades to its design in iOS 18, including some AI-enabled additions.
• Apple could have a couple of big upgrades in store for the Notes app in iOS 18.

iOS 18 could be the most significant update for the iPhone in a long time. In fact, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that iOS 18 will be "one of the biggest iOS updates — if not the biggest — in the company’s history."

The reason why has everything to do with AI, which promises to take center stage in some of the features being planned for iOS 18. This includes a revamped Siri assistant. That puts Apple in the position of hoping to answer Google, which makes AI-driven features a centerpiece of the experience with its Pixel phones, and Samsung, which made Galaxy AI tools a centerpiece of its recent Galaxy S24 launch.

Can Apple make its own unique mark with the planned features in iOS 18? Here's what we know about iOS 18 and its planned features so far.

iOS 18 cheat sheet: Biggest rumors

  • Release date: Preview at WWDC 2024 on June 14, followed by a beta; a full version arrives in the fall
  • Supported devices: All phones that can run iOS 17 should run iOS 18
  • AI features: Revamped Sir, generative AI are the highlights, with AI features expected to run on the phone and not the cloud
  • Interface redesign: Expect a more customizable home screen
  • App improvements: Custom routes in Maps, Calendar/Reminders integration, recording capabilities for Notes app, AI assisted transcription and summaries 
  • Other features: RCS messaging support, accessibility features

iOS 18: Potential release date

WWDC 2023

iOS 17's preview at WWDC 2023 (Image credit: Apple)

Though Apple doesn't release a schedule for its iOS updates, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the iOS 18 launch given the company's predictable track record of scheduling iPhone software updates.

We're expecting Apple to showcase iOS 18 at WWDC 2024, as the annual developer conference usually features previews of all the big software releases coming later in the year. We now have a date for that event — WWDC 2024 gets started on June 10, with a keynote kicking off the big event.

A developer beta for iOS 18 will likely get released during WWDC 2024; a public beta should follow a few weeks after that. Past iOS beta programs have run all summer-long in the past with frequent updates for bug fixes and new features. It should all culminate just before the start of fall when a full version of iOS 18 becomes available to download right as the iPhone 16 models arrive in stores. Usually, that occurs around mid-September.

iOS 18: Supported devices

iPhone XR vs iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max

iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There's no official word on which current iPhones will be able to run iOS 18 and which will see the end of support. For iOS 17, Apple dropped support for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — all devices that came out in the fall of 2018. That's in line with Apple's habit of providing five years or so of software and security support for its phones.

Should Apple stick to that five year window, that would place phones released in 2019 on the chopping block for iOS 18 support. As of this fall, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will be hitting that five year mark, meaning they're the most likely to be cut off from future iOS updates.

However, a post on X — the website that used to be known as Twitter — listed iPhone models likely to feature iOS 18 support, and it included those 2019 phones. Likewise with a more recent leak, which names the iPhone XS and iPhone XR as the oldest iOS 18-compatible models. If true, that would mean the same phones that can run iOS 17 will be able to upgrade to iOS 18.

We really won't know which phones are definitely supported until Apple announces it. That usually happens amid the iOS preview during WWDC.

iOS 18: AI features

Siri presenting 'Go ahead, I'm listening' in text on iPhone screen.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A general theme is emerging in the initial reports about Apple's iOS 18 plans, and it all centers around artificial intelligence playing a central role in the update. It's why a number of Apple sources have told reporters that iOS 18 figures to be one of the more important releases in Apple's history.

In the past year, we've seen a lot of tech companies introduce a lot of AI-powered products from OpenAI's ChatGPT to Google's Gemini chatbot and its Tensor G3-powered Pixel 8 flagships. The latest company making AI news is Samsung, which made AI features the centerpiece of this year's Galaxy S24 launch. Samsung's latest phones now support photo editing tools that use generative AI, and they include features like live translations during phone calls, auto-summary features for Notes, and the ability to search for things just by circling an image on your phone screen.

For the most part, Apple has stayed on the sidelines, but that's apparently changing, particularly when it comes to the software found on its phones. Specifically, Apple is said to be investing heavily to develop conversational AI, according to a report in The Information. The idea is that iPhone users would be able to automate tasks that involve multiple steps using simple voice commands. Think of it as a smarter version of Siri, the built-in digital assistant on your phone.

The iPhone 16, in particular, could benefit from Apple's AI efforts. Leaker Revegnus took to the social network formerly known as Twitter to proclaim that Apple is going to use large language models (LLM) for its Siri revamp. For current iPhones, that means a lot of AI features could be cloud-based; the iPhone 16, however, should have the processing power to carry out those AI features on the device itself. Subsequent reports have suggested that on-device AI is key to Apple's plans, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman now says that generative AI features in iOS 18 will run on the phone's neural engine, not the cloud. (It's possible some cloud services may play a role in more advanced features, reports say.)

An extensive AppleInsider report gave us more details about the kind of AI-powered features for iOS 18 Apple may be working on. The update could let iPhone and iPad users summarize long text messages using AI, similar to the Humane AI Pin's "Catch me up" command, as well as generate simple text responses. To that end, it'll be able to communicate with the Calendar app and take into account events when drafting a response. But while Apple's on-device AI will be able to generate simple text-based responses, more advanced replies or summaries will still need server-side processing, according to AppleInsider. 

For what it's worth, Apple is reportedly in talks with Google about bringing the search giant's Gemini AI models to the iPhone. Presumably, this would be done in conjunction with the AI efforts surrounding iOS 18.

A lot of this will likely be powered by the A18 family of chips slated for the 2024 iPhone lineup. All iPhone 16 models are expected to run on an A18 system-on-chip of some sort, with the more powerful silicon fueling the iPhone 16 Pro models. Whatever the model, there should be enough processing power under the hood to handle any AI features Apple develops, which not only helps with speed, but also with privacy, as none of your data or queries has to leave your iPhone.

You'll notice a lack of specifics in the talk about these AI-driven features coming to iOS 18. We expect more details to emerge between now and WWDC 2024.

iOS 18: App improvements

Apple RCS messaging support.

(Image credit: Future)

Apple has already confirmed one feature coming to the iPhone this year, and most people seem to think it will be part of iOS 18. Last November, Apple confirmed that RCS support was coming to the iPhone via a future software update sometime in 2024. We expect that to come to Messages in iOS 18.

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a texting protocol used by Android messaging apps. Apple has made it clear that its own iMessage platform isn't going anywhere — it remain the way that iPhone users communicate with one another. What is changing is support for texting from your iPhone to Android users. While the green bubble/blue bubble divide that currently exists will remain, it should mean improved inter-platform communication. It's assumed that features like typing indicators and read receipts will now be supported when texting with Android devices.

Apple's pledge to support RCS is an about-face for the company, with Apple previously telling Android users who wanted less clumsy texting experiences with iOS devices to "buy an iPhone." Apple's change of heart may be inspired by the possibility of regulation in Europe, much like how EU rules drove Apple to adopt USB-C connectivity for the iPhone 15.

The iPhone Notes app may get a significant upgrade. One source claims it'll be able to make recordings that can be embedded in individual notes (and be shared between your devices via iCloud), and offer better support for mathematical notation.

A report claims there will be tighter integration between the Calendar and Reminders apps in iOS 18. Specifically, AppleInsider says that you'll be able to create and organize reminders from within Calendar in the software update.

Safari is in line to get several improvements, according to rumors, with most of the new features powered by AI. An Intelligent Search feature will reportedly offer summaries of web pages, while Web Eraser can apparently remove parts of a web page such as ads or images. 

The iPhone has had a Calculator app from the get-go, but that's been missing from the iPad. Reportedly, iPadOS 18 — a modified version of iOS 18 for Apple's tablets — will change this, adding a native Calculator app for the iPad.

It appears that Apple will release updates for several core apps that will allow the on-board AI to transcribe and summarize audio clips, these features are included in the Voice memo and Notes app to name a few, and will work with iPadOS 18 and iMacOS 15.

Here's a look at some of the other rumored updates coming to built-in apps in iOS 18.

iOS 18: Accessibility features

Separate reports point to Apple adding new accessibility features while also enhancing some existing ones introduced in previous iOS versions.

The most extensive news on this subject comes from Mac Rumors, citing industry sources. The report claims Apple is focusing on some accessibility improvements in the coming versions of both iOS and macOS. Specific features include:

  • Adaptive Voice Shortcuts, where you can create a spoken phrase that ties into an accessibility setting, effectively controlling that setting with your voice.
  • LiveSpeech improvements, which will take the feature introduced in iOS 17 and add the ability to create categories for better organization.
  • An extension of the Adjustable Text feature that adds support for changing text sizes in  Books, News, Tips, Weather and Stocks.

Separately, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that iOS 18 is adding a Hearing Aid Mode to the AirPods Pro Gen 2 earbuds. This new feature would build on the Live Listen capabilities introduced in iOS 12, that transmit audio captured by the iPhone's microphones to the earbuds.

iOS 18: Redesign

iPhones showing off Apple iOS 17 Features Highlight.

(Image credit: Apple)

Another possible iOS 18 change has emerged, and it stems from another Mark Gurman column at Bloomberg. The Apple watcher has claimed a redesign could be in the works for Apple's iPhone software, though additional details aren't really provided. All Gurman has said is that the new look for iOS 18 won't draw on the Apple Vision Pro's visionOS software for inspiration.

That said, an iOS 18 leak published at MacRumors reportedly shows off a redesigned camera app for the upcoming software update. And it looks a lot like what you'd get from Apple's visionOS.

ios 18 camera app design leak

(Image credit: MacRumors)

What Gurman has teased is that Apple will be improving home screen customization. We hope this means you'll be able to put apps where you like within the grid, rather than having everything trying to auto-align upwards and leftwards, but it's not clear what exactly this alleged customization entails yet. We have some suggestions on possible iOS redesign changes as well as some thoughts on home-screen customization.

iOS 18 outlook

Even without a lot of the finer details at this point, iOS 18 sounds like a very significant update that will deliver plenty of new capabilities to your iPhone — even current models. We're eager for more details to emerge about the update and the next several months leading up to WWDC 2024 on June 10, particularly how Apple intends to expand the AI-driven capabilities of its phones.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.