iOS 18 won’t be like recent iPhone software updates, according to insiders familiar with Apple’s plans for next year’s big release. Lately, we’ve had relatively uneventful updates, marked by this year’s iOS 17 release. Sure, there were some significant changes in that update, but you wouldn’t call iOS 17 a major overhaul — more like a tweak that resulted in some new and improved features.
That’s not the approach Apple is taking with iOS 18, according to insiders familiar with the company’s plans for the next phone update cycle. No less an authority than Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman calls the iOS 18 update “even more critical than usual.” That’s because hardware updates for the iPhone 16 may not be as notable as what Apple introduced with this year’s iPhone 15 models, which included an upgraded main camera for the entry-level phone and a new titanium design and more powerful chipset for the iPhone 15 Pro models.
“Apple is banking on (iOS 18) to sell people on the new (iPhone) models,” Gurman wrote in a recent column.
Obviously, a key way to do that will be through AI, which promises to be at the center of some of the features planned for iOS 18. That leaves Apple hoping to answer Google, making AI-powered features central. of the experience with its Pixel phones and Samsung, as Samsung eyes AI features for the upcoming launch of the Galaxy S24.
Can Apple make its own unique mark with the planned features of iOS 18? We won’t know until we get the first iOS 18 preview halfway through 2024 at the earliest. But here’s what we know about iOS 18 and its planned features so far.
iOS 18: Potential release date
While Apple doesn’t release a schedule for its iOS updates, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the release of iOS 18 given the company’s predictable track record when it comes to scheduling iPhone software updates.
If past performance is anything to go by, the first we’ll hear about iOS 18 will be at 2024’s Worldwide Developers Conference, when Apple previews the software update alongside similar updates to its iPad, Apple Watch and Mac software. There is no set date for WWDC 2024, but Apple’s developer event usually takes place in early June.
A developer beta for iOS 18 would be available for iOS 18 at WWDC 2024, with a public beta following a few weeks after that. Previous iOS beta programs have been running all summer before 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 for download right when the iPhone 16 models hit stores. Usually it happens around the middle of September.
Reports surfaced in early November that Apple paused development of iOS 18 to eliminate bugs that had surfaced during the first milestone build of an internal version of the software. However, that break was only expected to last a week, so it wouldn’t have any impact on Apple’s normal release schedule for its iOS updates.
iOS 18: Supported devices
There’s no official word on which current iPhones will be able to run iOS 18 and which will be discontinued. For iOS 17 this year, 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 the five-year window, it would put phones released in 2019 on the chopping block for iOS 18 support. Starting next fall, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max will reach that five-year mark, meaning they will most likely be cut off from future iOS updates.
That said, we won’t know which phones are definitely supported until Apple announces it. It usually happens in the middle of the iOS preview during WWDC.
iOS 18: Rumored features
It’s far too early to talk about specific features coming to the iPhone with the iOS update. But a common theme is emerging in the first reports of Apple’s iOS 18 plans, and it’s all about artificial intelligence playing a central role in the update.
Over the past year, we’ve seen many tech companies introduce many AI-powered products from OpenAI’s ChatGPT to Google’s Bard chatbot and its Tensor G3-powered Pixel 8 flagship. For the most part, Apple has stayed on the sidelines, but that’s clearly going to change over the next 12 months, especially when it comes to the software found on their phones.
Specifically, Apple is said to be investing heavily in developing conversational AI, according to a report in The Information. The idea is that iPhone users would be able to automate tasks involving multiple steps with simple voice commands. Think of it as a smarter version of Siri, the built-in digital assistant on your phone.
Adding to these speculations, analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities expects Apple to launch its own AI chatbot by the end of 2024, citing the company’s plans to build AI servers to handle the expected workload. The late 2024 timing aligns with the likely release dates of the iPhone 16 and iOS 18.
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 it Apple will use large language modules (LLM) for its Siri innovation. For current iPhones, that means many AI functions will be cloud-based; However, the iPhone 16 should have the processing power to perform these AI functions on the device itself.
Much of this will likely be powered by the A18 family of chips destined 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 powering the iPhone 16 Pro models. Regardless of the model, there should be enough processing power under the hood to handle all the AI features that Apple develops, which not only helps with speed, but also with privacy, since none of your data or questions have to leave your iPhone.
You’ll notice a lack of detail in the talk about these AI-powered features coming to iOS 18. We expect more details to emerge between now and WWDC 2024, as we also hear about more conventional updates to existing apps .
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 tons of new features to your iPhone — even current models. We’re keen for more details to emerge about the update between now and mid-2024, particularly how Apple intends to expand the AI-powered capabilities of its phones.
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