All the New Features in iOS 18: An Unmistakable Taste of Android in a System That Finally Brings AI to iPhone

iOS 18 looks more like Android than ever: It has custom icons, a game mode, and a gallery reminiscent of Google Photos.

Apple's iOS 18 new features
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Seeing OpenAI CEO Sam Altman walking around Apple Park could only mean one thing: The era of artificial intelligence had arrived at Apple. The company has just officially released iOS 18, which comes hand in hand with a gigantic deal with OpenAI. This partnership will be an essential pillar—though not the main one—for a new era at Apple with its “Apple Intelligence,” the name of its new AI.

AI is the protagonist, but there are also changes in native apps and design. These are all new features of Apple’s newest operating system, which you can install in beta if you aren’t afraid of instability on your iPhone.

Let’s Talk About Something Familiar: Customization


The first new feature in iOS 18 is all about customization: Icons and widgets are getting a second life. Finally, we can place them wherever we want, including the bottom of the screen.

Now, you can customize the icons with the color of your choice, use dark mode, and place them anywhere on the screen.

You can now use dark mode for icons and even change their color, just like in Android with its custom themes.

Control Center is also evolving, with a swipe gesture that allows us to quickly access our most-used features. In other words, we now have multiple pages by swiping down.

One new feature is the ability to add third-party apps to the Control Center. As always, this will depend on the developers that integrate their products into this feature using Apple’s APIs.

New camera icon on iOS 18

Finally, it will be possible to change the two accesses on the lock screen: the mythical ones for the flashlight and camera. In iOS 18, we can quickly configure the apps we want to access from the lock screen.

Apps Improvements

In terms of security, iOS 18 will allow you to lock and hide apps. This feature is remarkably like Android 15’s Secure Folder. Using FaceID, we can hide apps on the desktop in a folder that we can only unlock with the biometric system.

There are also improvements in native apps, such as Messages, with new text effects and more emoticon options. Relatedly, Apple announced that iPhones with satellite connectivity can use now iMessage without being connected to a cellular network.

The Mail app is also evolving and now displays categories differently: Main, transactions, news, and promotions, all accessible from the top of the app. As such, all emails are automatically categorized more efficiently than in the current app.

Appl's Tap to cash feature

On the other hand, Tap to Cash is one of the new features of iOS 18 that allows you to pay one of your contacts with Apple Pay. To send money from one wallet to another, all you have to do is bring your iPhone close to the person's device, activate this option, and double-click with the power button, like any payment with Apple Pay.

In addition, game mode has finally arrived on the iPhone, although Apple didn’t provide many details about it.

iOS 18 new gallery design

The company has also improved the organization of the Photos app. It states that we’re looking at the most significant redesign in its history, with a major change at the interface level to make it more accessible. From now on, we can use new bottom views to search for photos by month or year and new categories to explore images more efficiently.

Apple also made changes to passwords, which now have their own app. It moved them from System Preferences to Passwords, an app that stores passkeys, app passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and verification codes.

Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence, Apple’s new AI, will be available in iOS 18. Specifically, these are the four categories where this AI will work:

  • Language: The iPhone will be able to prioritize notifications by analyzing their content and offer innovative writing features to rewrite or review user texts. These improvements will be available in Mail, Notes, Safari, and even third-party apps.
  • Pictures: We can now use AI to create images using information from our photo library. For example, users can create drawings, illustrations, and Midjourney-style animations using photos from their contacts.
  • Actions in apps: “Show me the files they sent me the other day.” The iPhone can now analyze the phone’s content.
  • Personal context: With iOS 18, the iPhone can process relevant data from emails, contacts, calendars, and information on our screens to give us valuable tips.

Due to these improvements, we’ll finally be able to delete subjects in the Photos app, receive notifications grouped according to the system’s priority analysis, and create content summaries in any app.

What about security? This is one of Apple’s pillars, and processing will be primarily local. Apps can fetch data for context but won’t be able to store personal information.

Apple devices will need Apple A17 Pro (the processor in the iPhone 15) to process this local model as it requires significant processing power. If you need to use models based on more complete queries, you'll have to connect to servers built for Apple Silicon.

Apple Intelligence features will arrive this year. Initially, they will be completely free, although we'll have to wait until they’re all rolled out.

Siri Improvements

iOS 18

Along with Apple Intelligence come the expected improvements to Siri. The app is now more integrated at the UI level, including in the iPhone’s bezels. The assistant will now better understand the context of conversations based on the local data within your apps. In addition, if you don’t want to talk, you can now type your questions or commands to Siri.

The assistant will also be able to analyze the contents of your screen and the functions you typically perform with your apps. For example, it will be able to show users the pictures from that trip to the beach in 2019 when they ask, add that photo to a personalized message in Notes, and, in short, interact with the system’s own apps and third parties.

And the icing on the cake: Siri will have ChatGPT-4o built in. If Siri determines that it can provide better results with GPT, it will automatically invoke call the 4o server to use it. Users will be able to access it for free without creating an account. If you've have paid for a subscription to paid versions, you can log in to access the models within Siri.

When Will I Be Able to Download iOS 18?

Apple has just presented the first version of iOS 18, a beta you can already download (if everything goes according to plan). Since this is a beta version, experts recommend against downloading it yet if your iPhone is your primary device. In addition, these may not be all the new features in iOS 18.

Following the usual schedule, iOS 18 should arrive in September along with the iPhone 16.

Images | Apple

Related | A Brief Look at Apple's First WWDC in 1983: An Event With Many Questions About How to Use a Mouse and the User Interface Revolution

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