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Apple iOS 18 Cheat Sheet: Release Date, RCS Integration and More

Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 18, was unveiled during WWDC ‘24 on June 10, 2024, and features many niceties that users have been wanting for years. From AI integration with Siri and throughout the system to a standalone Passwords app, to being able to send messages via satellite when your iPhone doesn’t have service, there’s a feature that will likely appeal to someone.

Whether you’re using an iPhone or an iPad, let’s explore everything that business pros need to know about iOS 18, including release date and other key features.

What is iOS 18?

iOS 18 is the 18th major version of the mobile operating system Apple releases for distribution on iPhone models. Apple’s iOS 18 adds intelligence features to Siri and — through the operating system powered by Apple Intelligence and ChatGPT — offers the ability to fully customize Home Screen and Lock Screen experiences and increases on-device security and privacy features.

SEE: Previous iterations of iOS in these TechRepublic cheat sheets: iOS 17, iOS 16, iOS 15, iOS 14, iOS 13.

When will iOS 18 be released?

Apple is expected to release iOS 18 to the general public in Fall 2024. This is Apple’s standard operating procedure of announcing the latest iOS version during WWDC and then releasing it in September of that year alongside new hardware such as iPhones.

Apple released a beta for developers to install on their test devices on June 10, 2024, after the WWDC keynote address. While not yet announced, we anticipate that Apple will release a public beta of iOS 18 in the next month, based on the company’s previous release cycles.

How can I install the iOS 18 beta?

The iOS 18 developer betas should only be installed on development-specific hardware because features may not be fully implemented at this time, and bugs are common in beta releases. Using this beta on production accounts and devices may result in data loss.

Registered developers should follow these steps to download and install the iOS 18 beta on development devices. Note: Apple requires that any device the beta is installed on is part of the Apple Developer Program.

  1. Log into your Apple Developer account.
  2. Select Downloads and then iOS 18.
  3. Download the profile, and AirDrop it to your iPhone, or perform steps one and two on your device.
  4. Install the profile onto your iPhone and then restart when prompted.
  5. After restarting, navigate to the Settings app | General | Software Update. You will get a prompt to download and install the latest version of the iOS 18 beta.

There are steps non-developer users can take to prepare for when Apple releases a public beta of iOS 18.

  1. Sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program.
  2. Enroll your device: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, HomePod mini, HomePod 2nd generation or Apple Watch.
  3. On your device, go to the Settings app | General | Software Update.
  4. Select the iOS Public Beta in the Beta Updates section.

Artificial intelligence runs deep in iOS 18

During this year’s WWDC keynote and iOS 18 introduction, Apple spent a significant amount of time talking about the Apple Intelligence features that are coming throughout the operating system. Beginning with Siri, Apple is making the voice assistant more contextually aware of tasks that you’re currently working on so it can aid those specific tasks and provide information on those tasks compared with other data stored on your iPhone. This feature can help answer questions by surfacing results from Calendar, Messages, Mail and even third-party apps eventually.

The best part is that awkward conversations with Siri don’t have to be voice activated; instead, you can type to Siri by double-tapping the home bar on the iPhone. A window will appear where you can type to your newly smarter virtual assistant in iOS 18.

A new generative AI feature in iOS 18 is the ability to custom make an image that is fully generated by Apple Intelligence in a standalone app or in first- and third-party apps.
A new generative AI feature in iOS 18 is the ability to custom make an image that is fully generated by Apple Intelligence in a standalone app or in first- and third-party apps. Image: Apple, Inc.

Some additional AI implementations in iOS 18

  • Apple is beefing up Mail’s ability to sort messages and generate a summary of a long email.
  • A Photos upgrade allows you to easily sort and filter photos and videos.
  • Messages will allow users to generate their own emoji using the Genmoji feature to generate AI-crafted emojis that can be shared with others.

Customization in iOS 18

In iOS 16, Apple began embracing more user customization support with new user-generated wallpapers; with iOS 18, Apple is kicking up the customization game thanks to new features that let you rearrange the Home Screen completely and in any way you want. The Home Screen icons will no longer snap in place; instead, they can be placed anywhere you would like on the screen, freeing you up from the old grid system that’s been around since iOS 1.0.

Control Center can be fully customized as well, complete with additional third-party actions thanks to a small “widget” style interface that allows users to drag and drop to rearrange icons and further customize the experience within Control Center. The best part is that these Control Center changes migrate to the Lock Screen, where traditionally there has been a Light and Camera button in the lower left and right corner of the Lock Screen; now users can pick which Control Center feature they want to appear in those action button spots.

The new Control Center in iOS 18 is fully customizable so you can view just the settings and features you’d like.
The new Control Center in iOS 18 is fully customizable so you can view just the settings and features you’d like. Image: Apple, Inc.

Security and privacy in iOS 18

Apple’s iCloud Keychain revolutionized the ability to securely sync passwords and passkeys between your devices. Now Apple is changing the game again by releasing a new Passwords app that is available outside of the Settings app on all its platforms. This allows you to more easily manage your passwords, see passkeys and 2FA codes, and even see which passwords might have been compromised thanks to Apple’s checking of your passwords against known hacking databases. The new Passwords app works on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Vision Pro and Windows, thanks to iCloud sync integration.

The standalone Passwords app will allow users to more easily manage their passwords without navigating to the Settings app thanks to iOS 18.
The standalone Passwords app will allow users to more easily manage their passwords without navigating to the Settings app thanks to iOS 18. — Image: Apple, Inc.

Apple is also allowing users to lock down specific apps that might be more sensitive than others. Any application can now be locked behind Touch ID or Face ID thanks to this new App Lock feature. When enabled on a specific app, that app must be authenticated before you can use it; plus, any data within the app will not be surfaced to system features like Spotlight or Siri when it is locked.

Messages in iOS 18 includes RCS integration and new satellite feature

The two biggest Messages app features that weren’t mentioned much during the WWDC ‘24 keynote are the ability to send messages via satellite when you don’t have cellular service and the integration with Rich Communication Services.

With RCS integration, your iPhone will be able to send and receive higher quality photos and videos, and long-form messages with Android users and other devices that support the RCS standard over SMS. This is a great addition that will greatly improve interoperability with other platforms.

The Messages via Satellite feature builds on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15’s ability to send emergency messages via satellite. This feature will allow your iPhone without a cellular connection to reach out to your contacts via iMessage or text message by connecting to a satellite instead of cellular connection. This is an impressive feature that will leave many world travelers, hikers and other off-grid users happy.

In addition, Apple’s new features with the Messages app include the ability to generate your own emoji with AI. These so-called Genmoji can be used to create new emojis or profile pictures automatically within iOS 18 and are available to implement in third-party apps as well.

Another new and notable feature is the ability to schedule a message to send later inside of Messages, letting you pick the date and time a specific message or reply should be sent.

Messages in iOS 18 will have the ability to schedule messages for later. This is a feature users have been wanting for a long time.
Messages in iOS 18 will have the ability to schedule messages for later. This is a feature users have been wanting for a long time. Image: Apple, Inc.

Other notable iOS 18 features

  • The Phone app now lets you record and transcribe a live call directly.
  • Mail has a new AI-enabled ability to categorize messages into certain folders, letting you see email in a new way, sorted by type or by sender.
  • Mail will group receipts, marketing emails and newsletters by sender in order, so you can easily read them.
  • Writing Tools is a contextual tool that can be used in first- and third-party apps to proofread, write, summarize and more using Apple Intelligence. It can be invoked by selecting a block of text.
  • Hands-free Siri integration with AirPods Pro lets you shake your head yes or no to answer calls or activate questions from Siri about notifications.
  • A new Notes feature transcribes live audio and summarizes your audio for meetings.
  • Notes has the ability to solve math equations just by typing them into a note followed by an equal sign. Then, Notes will solve it for you.
  • New formatting options in Notes include the ability to highlight text with a specific color and collapse certain sections of a note.
  • Redesigned Privacy and Security Settings view in the Settings app lets you more easily see what apps have access to what type of privacy setting.
  • Eye Tracking makes it possible for people to control iPhone with just their eyes in a new Accessibility mode.
  • Home Screen app icons can be easily customized for light or dark mode, or tint them yourself with a new feature that lets you create monochromatic icons or have them all tinted to your favorite color.
  • Control Center features a widget-like gallery for browsing available controls that can be used within the new Control Center interface or Lock Screen action buttons.
  • Control Center’s actions can be rearranged and resized to your liking.
  • Photos automatically organizes your photos based on the content contained in them with AI. You can now filter or sort your photos to find the ones you’re looking for.
  • Messages supports the ability for text to be changed to bold, italics, underline and strikethrough.
  • Messages can animate particular parts of text for emphasis. iOS 18 can automatically suggest specific animations or pick one of your favorites.
  • Messages tapback feature can work with any emoji, allowing you to express messages more effectively than with the built-in tapbacks.
  • Safari will use AI to detect specific elements on a page and surface things like directions, quick links, people, music, movies and TV shows.
  • Reader in Safari has been infused with AI and can summarize a web page for you without needing to read an entire article. Great for on-the-go quick catch ups.
  • Maps features trail information, trail maps and directions for all 63 U.S. national parks. These maps and trail information can be downloaded for offline use.
  • Game mode on iOS 18 and iPhone lets your iPhone suspend background tasks and focus solely on providing the screen with the best and most performant graphics output.
  • Wallet has been upgraded with the ability to display loyalty points and accounts for merchants.
  • Event tickets inside of the Wallet app features a new design that includes important information like directions and weather for the event.
  • Wallet lets you easily send money to someone without the need to exchange contact information. With Tap to Cash, just tap your iPhone to another user’s iPhone to exchange money via Apple Cash balance.
  • Emergency SOS live video lets you stream your camera with a compatible dispatcher in emergency situations.

What devices will iOS 18 run on?

iOS 18 is compatible with the following devices, though some features may require the latest devices, such as the satellite functionality and some machine learning functionality:

  • iPhone 15.
  • iPhone 15 Plus.
  • iPhone 15 Pro.
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max.
  • iPhone 14.
  • iPhone 14 Plus.
  • iPhone 14 Pro.
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max.
  • iPhone 13.
  • iPhone 13 mini.
  • iPhone 13 Pro.
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max.
  • iPhone 12.
  • iPhone 12 mini.
  • iPhone 12 Pro.
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • iPhone 11.
  • iPhone 11 Pro.
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max.
  • iPhone XS.
  • iPhone XS Max.
  • iPhone XR.
  • iPhone SE 2nd generation or later.

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