Five iOS 18 features I’m most excited about at WWDC 2024, and AI is just the beginning

Adam Breeden/ZDNET

We are just one night away from Apple announcing its iOS 18 update in its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Over the past few months, rumors have emerged about Apple’s plans for the next version of its mobile operating system. Many reports suggest that artificial intelligence will play a pivotal role in the software, helping Apple reimagine how iOS operates and interacts with users. Although Apple hasn’t confirmed any of those reports, considering how important AI has become in Samsung’s Galaxy UI and Google’s Android, it makes sense that AI will be fully integrated into iOS 18 this year.

Also: What to expect from WWDC 2024: Apple Intelligence, Siri, iOS 18, VisionOS and more

However, AI may not be Apple’s only focus with iOS 18. There is reportedly a good chance that a new level of customization is coming to the operating system, allowing it to do much more than before. Plus, with several outlets suggesting that Siri could become really useful this year, there’s a lot to look forward to in iOS 18.

Read on to learn more about Apple’s upcoming operating system and the five rumored features I’m most looking forward to seeing in this year’s iOS 18.

1. AI everywhere

Apple is planning fully bake AI in iOS 18according to various reports.

For one, Apple plans to offer AI-generated emojis that appear in text messages as users type. according according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Apple’s AI features in iOS 18 could also automatically retouch photos, help you find websites more easily using a smart search feature in Safari, and help you find content on your device using Spotlight. Even Apple Music could get a boost by creating AI-generated playlists automatically based on your song preferences.

Also: Apple Photos app gets AI-powered editing feature to eliminate photobombers

Here’s the big question: Which AI vendor will Apple partner with for power? iOS 18 AI Features? Some reports have said that Apple is closing in on a deal with OpenAI; Other reports have suggested that the iPhone maker is also talking to Google about using Gemini, as well as Anthropic. Which vendor Apple chooses could significantly affect how AI features work in iOS 18.

2. Serious customization

One of the hallmarks of Apple’s design philosophy over the years has focused on not allowing you to customize your operating system experience too much. That is changing now.

According to Gurman’s sources, Apple will allow full customization of iOS 18 this year. The feature would allow you to change the colors of app icons and, perhaps most notably, ditch the apps’ grid layout in favor of a free-form option of your choosing. Apple’s iOS has fallen behind Google’s Android in allowing home screen customization, so it’s good to see the company considering opening things up.

3. RCS

Although it has already been announced, Apple this year will adopt the Rich Communication Standard (RCS) for messaging. When iOS users exchange text messages with Android users, they will all have the same features available in Apple’s iMessage, including the ability to send photos and videos, hold group chats, and more.

Also: Here are all the iPhone models that will support Apple’s upcoming AI features (for now)

Apple said earlier this year that it would release RCS support for communication with Android later in 2024. It will most likely be released in iOS 18, and eventually communication with Android users will be simplified for iPhone users.

4. A boost from Apple Maps

According to several reports, Apple is planning a pretty major update to Apple Maps in iOS 18, and I’m all for it.

On the one hand, Apple reportedly plans to offer users the opportunity to create custom routes, so they can decide for themselves whether they want to take the scenic route or try to reach their destination in the shortest time possible. The company may also add a topographic mapping feature, but it’s the ability to create a custom route (a feature Google Maps has long offered) that might be the most compelling improvement.

5. Smart summaries anyone?

Trying to stay on top of everything during the day is extremely difficult. And all too often we are inundated with notifications.

Also: The best iPhone models of 2024: tested and reviewed by experts

In iOS 18, Apple is trying to fix this issue with the rumored Smart Recaps feature. Smart Recaps will reportedly give you a complete overview of all the notifications (emails, text messages, app updates, and more) that you may have missed. Apple’s artificial intelligence will offer you the option to respond to those notifications with the help of artificial intelligence or ignore them. Either way, maybe you don’t need to log into apps and waste time when AI can give you updates with ease. Nice.

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