iOS 18: new features, predicted release date, and everything we know

iOS 18
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple officially announced iOS 18 at WWDC 2024, with the company's next major software update set to roll out to the best iPhones later this year.

Major upgrades are coming to core iPhone apps including Mail, Messages, Photos, Maps and Wallet, while entirely new AI tools are headed to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, exclusively, via Apple's new Apple Intelligence feature suite.

Below, we've detailed the key iOS 18 features announced at WWDC 2024, as well as the iPhones set to be supported with the new software update.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next major iOS release
  • When is it out? "Later this year", likely September
  • How much will it cost? It will be a free upgrade

iOS 18: release date

Vision Pro, iOS 18 and Apple Watch shots from WWDC 2024

Apple announced iOS 18 at WWDC 2024 (Image credit: Apple)

At WWDC 2024, Apple confirmed that iOS 18 will launch "later this year". Based on past form, that means the new update will almost certainly begin rolling out in mid-September 2024 (every major iOS release from iOS 6 onwards has started rolling out between September 13 and September 20).

iOS 18's full release will likely coincide with the launch of the iPhone 16 line and the Apple Watch 10. Members of Apple's Developer Program can, however, download the first iOS 18 beta right now (here's how to download the iOS 18 beta on your iPhone).

iOS 18: confirmed features

Below, we've detailed the biggest and best iOS 18 features, as confirmed by Apple at WWDC 2024, along with some additional features that have surfaced in the first iOS 18 betas. As mentioned, Apple also teased a series of Apple Intelligence features at the same event, but you'll find a rundown of those tools in a dedicated hub.

Redesigned Photos app


(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 18 will bring the biggest redesign to the Photos app ever. Essentially, it's being unified into a single view, comprising a photo grid and a dates grid, to better help you find the photo you're looking for. You'll be able to filter photos by categories, too, like screenshots and groups.

Advanced Home Screen customization


(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 18 will grant users the ability to rearrange app icons and widgets. For the first time, you'll be able to position apps at the bottom or side of the screen, freeing up real estate for the wallpaper behind them. You'll also be able to trigger a new dark mode for app icons in iOS 18, as well as add color tints.

Control Center upgrades


(Image credit: Apple)

Like the Home Screen, Control Center is also being upgraded in iOS 18. You'll soon be able to separate the Control Center into distinct function groups, like Media and Home, and you'll be able to resize Control Center widgets, too.

For the first time, iOS 18 will also allow you to edit which Control Center widgets appear on the Lock Screen.

Messages upgrades

iOS 18 will let you react to messages using any emoji, and you'll be able to schedule messages to send at a convenient time in the future. Apple is also adding new text formatting to the Messages app, so you'll be able to underline, strikethrough and bold your messages, as well as add new text formatting like ripple effects.

The Messages app will support the RCS standard in iOS 18, too. This should facilitate a richer messaging experience when you're communicating with someone who doesn't own an Apple device. 

Oh, and Apple is also expanding the satellite capabilities of compatible iPhones to let you send messages via satellite when cellular and Wi-Fi connections aren’t available. Neat!

Mail categorization

iOS 18 will leverage the power of Apple's new-and-improved on-device processing to categorize emails into four folders: Primary, Transactions, Updates and Promotions. The Mail app will soon be able to provide easy-to-read digests, too, helping you to quickly scan for what’s important in the moment.

Wallet upgrades


iOS 18 adds a new 'tap to cash' feature to the Wallet app (Image credit: Apple)

The Wallet app is being upgraded with a new 'tap to cash' feature in iOS 18, which should help make paying friends easier. Event tickets will also feature a more dynamic design.

ID-authenticated app locks

iOS 18 will introduce optional Face ID authentication for all iPhone apps – not just Notes and banking apps. You'll also be able to hide apps in a new Hidden Apps folder.

An upgrade for Power Reserve

Although not announced by Apple, the first iOS 18 beta has revealed that the iPhone 15's Power Reserve feature (which lets you access cards and locate your iPhone when the battery is otherwise out of juice) also now displays the time, though oddly this only currently works on the iPhone 15 line.

Math in any text field

You might not ever need to use a calculator with iOS 18, because if you enter a math problem in any text field, the operating system will solve it for you.

Choose your Home hub

If you have multiple devices that could serve as a Home hub, then one iOS 18 feature you'll probably really appreciate is the ability to select which you want to use as your Home hub, so you can make sure the best, fastest option is selected.

iOS 18: Compatibility

iPhone 15 Pro review front flat angled handheld

Apple Intelligence features will be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Apple has confirmed that any iPhone newer than the iPhone XS will be compatible with iOS 18 (in other words, any iPhone with the A12 Bionic chipset or newer). Incidentally, that’s also the same device requirements as iOS 17.

It's worth noting, though, that Apple Intelligence features will be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which both boast the A17 Pro chipset.

The full list of iOS 18-compatible iPhones is as follows: 

  • 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)
  • iPhone SE (3rd generation)

You might also like

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.