Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Apple’s iOS 18, iPadOS 18 brings AI, customisation to iPhones, iPads

A new look for iPhones and iPads is on the way, as is something to give Siri a bit more help and even a way to customise the look and feel of your phone and tablet. What’s coming in iOS 18?

The middle of the year is officially here, and with it WWDC, also known as the Worldwide Developer Conference.

Officially, it’s Apple’s big event to inform developers about the fun stuff they have to work with for the next year or so, but for consumers, it’s also a chance to find out what’s coming for iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other Apple gadgets aplenty.

If you have one or many of those, WWDC is a time when you can get a preview of what’s to come, as the maker of the iPhone and iPad talks up the features expected to come to your devices later in the year.

Kicking WWDC 2024 off was exactly that, with news for what owners of recent iPhones and iPads could expect: AI, the obvious trend of 2024 on the lips of many.

AI aplenty

Apple is officially naming its take on AI as “Apple Intelligence”, which when you look at the capital letters still says “AI”, but spins it with a bit of a marketing edge for Apple’s benefit.

However you define AI — artificial intelligence or Apple Intelligence — it’s definitely a part of what Apple is bringing to iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, and will be one of the big drawcard for owners of iPhone and iPad.

In the iPhone, AI will be able to reach across more apps than just the ones Apple makes, allowing third-party developers to let Siri take a peek in what they show, and it’s a similar situation on iPadOS 18, as well.

Apple Intelligence will roll out to Safari across both, creating summaries of pages easily, while also summarising notes you write, pages, email, and even able to turn phone calls into transcriptions with summaries, as well. When you record a phone call, the person on the other end will hear that you’re recording it, which brings the vibe of “your call is being recorded”, but you’ll get a transcription and summary of the call, too.

Custom home screens

But AI is only one part of the iOS 18/iPadOS 18 package, with customisation key to what’s being offered.

A little like a full circle for Android users, iOS will now support deeper customisation of the home screen, allowing you to place icons and widgets with spacing, and not in the standard Apple grid you’ve probably grown accustomed to.

You can still keep to that grid, of course, but you also don’t have to, as Apple tries what Android has had since practically the beginning.

Apple is also supporting icon colours and tinting, as well as a more comprehensive Control Centre, the latter of which can take controls from third-party apps, as well, with an API for developers to build their own. Expect a few Control Centre shortcuts in the months ahead from apps you might rely on.

Plenty more, too

There are other features on the way for iOS 18 on the iPhone, including a better Photos app with a simplified look, improvements to Safari and Mail, and even a way to lock up certain apps behind extra security.

Don’t want the kids checking out your banking app? Stick it behind an extra lock, improving your privacy that little bit more.

SMS will improve, too, with Rich Communication Services (RCS) support rolling out across iOS 18, making it easier for Android owners and iPhones to have rich messaging without access to the iMessage network, which they don’t have. RCS is a standard to improve text messaging, and it will be supported by iPhone with the release of iOS 18.

iPadOS 18 will bring similar features — no RCS, but the other apps will be there — and it will finally get a native calculator, which is something Apple has missed all these years. The iPad Calculator app will include “Math Notes”, which will recognise mathematical expressions typed or written with an Apple Pencil and then solve them. You’ll be able to use it for solving equations, creating graphs, and it will work from the Notes app, as well.

Owners of an iPad will also get more fluid handwriting with Smart Script notes, while the tab bar has been redesigned, and Safari is bringing distraction-free browsing, too.

Both platforms will also gain a Passwords app that will connect Apple’s password keychain, making it easy for anyone with either device to get access to their passwords and keep them secured.

“We are thrilled to introduce iOS 18. It is a huge release with incredible features, including new levels of customisation and capability, a redesigned Photos app, and powerful ways to stay connected with Messages,” said Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple.

“There are so many benefits for everyone,” he said.

In terms of availability, both iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 are expected later this year, likely in September alongside the iPhone 16 range, but a public beta release will be available beforehand for people to experience both on their phones ahead of time.

Homescreen customisation on iPhone is about to support more playful changes, similar to what Android has supported for years.
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