iOS 18 brings Home screen customization, new control center, RCS support and more

At its WWDC 2024, Apple previewed iOS 18, a major update bringing new customization options and the introduction of Apple Intelligence.

This new feature combines generative models with personal context for a smarter, more relevant experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

New Customization and Capabilities

iOS 18 allows iPhone users to customize their Home Screen, Lock Screen, and Control Center more freely.

  • Home Screen: Apps and widgets can be arranged anywhere, including above the dock. Widgets can have a dark or tinted look and can be resized for a personalized feel.

  • Control Center Redesign: Easier access to daily controls, with customization options for media playback, Home controls, and connectivity. Users can add controls from third-party apps, such as unlocking a vehicle or capturing social media content.

  • Lock Screen Customization: Users can now switch or remove controls at the bottom of the Lock Screen and use the Action button on iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max for quick access.

Photos App Improvements

The Photos app has been redesigned for easier browsing and reliving special moments.

  • Unified View: A simplified grid view and new collections help users browse by themes without organizing content into albums.
  • Carousel View: Highlights favorite people, pets, places, and more, with autoplaying content throughout the app. The app is customizable for organizing and pinning collections.
Enhanced Messaging

iMessage now features dynamic text effects, allowing users to animate letters, words, phrases, or emojis.

  • Personalization: Formatting options include bold, underline, italics, and strikethrough. Tapbacks now support any emoji or sticker, and users can schedule messages.

  • RCS Support: Richer media and more reliable group messaging for non-Apple contacts.
  • Messages via Satellite: For when cellular and Wi-Fi connections are unavailable, allowing text, emoji, and Tapbacks over iMessage and SMS with end-to-end encryption.

Mail Enhancements
  • On-device categorization sorts emails into Primary, Transactions, Updates, and Promotions.
  • A new digest view compiles relevant emails from businesses for quick scanning.

Safari Updates

Safari offers easier information discovery with Highlights and a redesigned Reader experience. Machine learning surfaces key webpage information, like summaries, locations, and music tracks.

Passwords App

The new Passwords app, built on Keychain, provides easy access to passwords, passkeys, Wi-Fi passwords, and verification codes. It includes alerts for weak or reused passwords and those in known data leaks.

Privacy Features

iOS 18 enhances user control over app visibility, contact sharing, and accessory connections.

  • Locked and Hidden Apps: Users can lock or hide apps, keeping notifications and content private.
  • Selective Contact Sharing: Users can choose to share specific contacts with apps.
  • Accessory Privacy: Seamless third-party accessory connections without revealing all devices on a network.

Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence enhances writing and communication across iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia.

  • Writing Tools: Systemwide tools for rewriting, proofreading, and summarizing text in various apps.

  • Image Playground: Create playful images with Animation, Illustration, or Sketch styles.

  • Memories in Photos: Generate storylines with selected photos and videos, removing distracting objects.

  • Advanced Siri: More natural, contextually relevant interactions with text and voice options.

  • Private Cloud Compute: Balances on-device processing and server-based models, ensuring privacy.
  • ChatGPT Integration: Access to ChatGPT for expertise and image/document understanding.
Additional Features of iOS 18
  • Apple Maps: Browse hikes in national parks, create custom walking routes, and save favorites offline.

  • Game Mode: Consistent frame rates and responsive accessories for a better gaming experience.
  • Apple Pay: Redeem rewards, access installments, and use Tap to Cash for quick transactions.
  • SharePlay with Apple Music: Shared music control for a more engaging listening experience.
  • AirPods Enhancements: Personal interactions with Siri, improved call quality, and better audio latency for gaming.
  • Notes App: Instant solutions for formulas and equations, collapsible sections, and highlighting.

  • Journal App: Insights view, search and sort entries, mindful minutes tracking, and a Journal widget.

  • Calendar: Integration with Reminders, updated month view, and task management.
  • Health App: Redesigned Medical ID, better pregnancy data understanding, and emergency SOS live video.

  • Home App: Guest access control, hands-free unlock with home keys, and energy usage insights.

  • Accessibility: Eye Tracking, Music Haptics, and Vocal Shortcuts for enhanced user experiences.

  • Developer Beta: Available through the Apple Developer Program.
  • Public Beta: Available through the Apple Beta Software Program next month.
  • Full Release: iOS 18 will be available this fall as a free update for iPhone Xs and later.
  • Apple Intelligence Beta: Available on iPhone 15 Pro, Pro Max, and M1 iPad and Mac devices with U.S. English Siri.