If “Apple Intelligence” made you glance at your old iPhone model and sigh in disappointment, then you might want to comfort yourself with the iOS 18 preview instead. Unlike Apple’s scattered attempts at AI that will be restricted to the premium iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, the iOS 18 updates will arrive on a larger range of smartphones. From iOS 18’s scheduled messages to the customization opportunities, the details of the upgraded version of the software have a lot in store for users, promising to elevate your iPhone experience all at once. 

Just like Craig Federighi’s flashy, meme-able entry during the WWDC 2024 event, the Apple iOS 18 launch has our full attention.

iOS 18 features

iOS 18 Preview—All Things iOS at the WWDC 2024

WWDC 2024, or Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, was held on June 10, 2024, and it brought with it a rush of announcements that fans have patiently and impatiently waited for. The exact date for the Apple iOS 18 launch remains a mystery but reports suggest the developer program is already live and the public Beta version should become available around July. The five previous milestone iOS releases all took place in September so users might have to wait till then for the official iOS 18 launch. This should coincide with the iPhone 16 lineup but the exact date is still unconfirmed. 

Instead of leaving us in the dark about what to expect, Apple has given us an iOS 18 preview with a gift basket of features to wait for instead so let’s shuffle things around what it includes.

WWDC 2024

Image: Turn your apps to dark mode or set them to match your wallpaper

iOS 18 Features Bring Customization and Style

To start off the iOS 18 preview, we were handed a glimpse of how the aesthetic details of your Apple home screen are now going to be easier to customize. Just like Android, you now have the freedom to move apps around and place them in a layout that suits you best, arranging the apps for convenience and style. In addition to moving the apps around individually, you can also select an entire row to make it easier to place similar apps together where you want them to go. 

If the app rearrangement feels too basic for you, then the iOS 18 update will also allow you to change the app icons to a dark mode. Taking the recoloring one step further, at the touch of a button, you can open up a slider to change the icons to match the color of your background or pick a different shade to make them stand out in contrast. We love personalizing things to fit the mood of the month and the new update throws in a touch of personal style that was previously missing on the iPhone.

The Photo app has also been redesigned to change how you access your photos. The photo grid on top gives you all your images at a glance, with your collections at the bottom, from recent images to your folder of people and pets. You can reorder these collections according to what’s important to you. This is one of Apple’s biggest redesigns of the Photos app and while we’re not particularly moved by it, you might enjoy the detail more than we do.

WWDC 2024

Image: Personalize your Control Center and resize the settings to suit you

The Revamped Control Center Brings Everything Together Perfectly

As rumored, the iOS preview also introduced a revamped control center that you can pack with as many convenient shortcuts and tools as you’d like. Accessing the control center was already easy with just a swipe, but Apple has created room for more controls and settings to be added as you scroll lower into the settings.

Developers who seize the opportunity will be able to use the Controls API to create toggles for their apps and services and feature them in the menu. Not only that, you get to determine which controls sit where and how much of your screen’s real estate they take up depending on their relevance to you. 

You may miss out on AI with your older iPhone models but if developers create more segways into their apps this way, you may never feel the absence of an assistant, with every setting easily available to you. There are multiple avenues for customization for developers to explore with the API, so the hope remains that more of them get on board and try it out. 

Apple iOS 18 updated

Image: Information from locked apps will not appear in other areas like search and your notifications

Privacy Priorities with the iOS 18 Preview

It’s unbelievable how smartphone makers haven’t prioritized individual app locks for so long considering how important it might be to protect sensitive apps on your device. Now, Apple will allow users to lock up individual apps with barriers that will prevent others from opening up an app that they don’t want anyone to view. Locking apps with Face ID, Touch ID, or Passcodes is going to be much easier than downloading a separate app to do it for you. Data from within the app will not appear in other areas either, which will make it easier to prevent someone from glancing at a private notification or reading a dumb query you had for Siri.

Apple also mentioned that the new iOS 18 privacy feature will allow you to hide apps in a separate folder like you can on Samsung phones already, but we don’t know the full extent of how apps on this hidden folder will operate. 

Apple upgrade

Image: Add effects to your texts

iOS 18’s Scheduled Messages to Make Life Easier For You

If you’re a terrible friend who sets all the reminders to wish your friend a happy birthday and still forgets to say it on time, you can schedule messages to be sent out in advance. Don’t want your parents to know you were up at 3 am but still need to remind them you have plans tomorrow? You can now use iOS 18’s scheduled messages to send the text out in the morning. iOS 18 is also improving the range of emojis you can use via messaging Tapbacks and text formatting to underline or italicize specific segments of your text are now easier.

If you want to give your message some more personality, you can also use the new text effects to add some visual effect to your messages. This is an interesting feature that we’ll probably tire of using after the first few days, but it is still a fun way to spice things up in the group chat. 

iOS 18 launch

iOS 18 Previews “Messaging via Satellite”

Apple’s iOS 18 launch was scheduled to bring RCS support, which it finally did, but the company chose to emphasize its feature of messaging via satellite on iPhones 14 and above. If you are in an area without cell service or Wi-Fi, it is usually very difficult to get in touch with people, however, this feature will allow you to use iMessage and SMS to still communicate and send texts, emojis, and Tapbacks. Only the iMessages that are sent this way will be end-to-end encrypted, so there is still some disadvantage in communicating with Android via SMS. Regardless, improved connectivity is always good to see in any device.

iOS 18 launch maps

Apple Maps Gets More Detailed With iOS 18 but It Isn’t the Only App Upgrade

One of the more interesting announcements during the iOS 18 preview is the inclusion of topographical maps with detailed trail networks including all 63 of the U.S. national parks. These can be saved on your phone so you have a much easier time with your hike without any fear of getting lost. If you have your own personal trails to save for later, you can do that too. It’s a pretty nifty upgrade for those outdoorsy folk who make the most of their weekends becoming one with nature. 

Apple Wallet will now have tap to cash to make transactions easier and event tickets are being redesigned to make it easier to find all the relevant information at a glance. Your email inbox is set to receive better categorizations later this year and you won’t even need AI summaries to make the most of all the information related to a particular business or company’s email chain. 

Want to get into journaling to improve your state of mind? Apple is set to make that experience easier for you, with detailed insights into your writing journey as you master your own mind. These little app upgrades add to the bigger picture quite nicely.

iOS 18 launches gaming

Game Mode Is Coming to iPhone with the iOS 18 Updates

For gamers who prefer to buy a gaming phone instead of going over budget on an iPhone, you might soon see more value with the iOS device. The Apple iOS 18 launch will bring a game mode that restricts background activity on your smartphone to improve frame rates and responsiveness with your connected accessories. It’s not as groundbreaking as Apple made it sound, but it’s better than nothing for gamers who want to make the switch.

The iOS 18 preview has been well worth the wait and every element feels well planned and carefully designed. Does it do enough to take away the bitterness of being left behind from experiencing Apple’s AI features? Perhaps not if you enjoy experimenting with AI. But if you’re not someone who cares too much about Siri and AI technology, you most likely will not feel the absence of Apple Intelligence with the iOS 18 updates