iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, focus on customization

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At its Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple unsurprisingly unveiled iOS 18, the next iteration of its iPhone operating system, which should become available this fall for a lot of iPhones.

Apple Intelligence

As expected, Apple Intelligence was the key new addition, which is the company’s own AI push, available for devices powered by the A17 and all M series chips. It’s all about personalized AI tools that help with your daily tasks – things like prioritizing notifications. There are also writing tools, available in all apps, for rewriting (with multiple versions), proofreading, or summarizing text. The Mail app also gets Smart Reply suggestions, and the ability to surface priority emails at the top of your Inbox.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Apple was keen to point out its AI is “grounded in your personal information and context” and it can reference what you’re looking at on your screen. But with Apple AI comes “powerful privacy”, thanks to on-device processing – this means the AI is aware of your personal data but not collecting your data.

Apple’s AI also lets you create images, fitting for your conversations based on your friends’ profile pictures. Sketch, illustration, and animation are the three styles in which you can create images using Apple’s Image Playground, which is built into many native apps but also available as a standalone tool. Every image is created on the device.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

“Genmoji” are also a thing. Yes, it means generative AI emoji, and it’s exactly what you think. You can create genmoji based on someone’s picture and AI lets you search for images and videos using natural language. The Clean Up tool is Apple’s AI eraser, helping you get rid of unwanted people and objects in photos.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Memories lets you create a video story by simply typing a description. This uses language and image recognition to pick the best photos and videos based on the description. It will even give you song suggestions to match.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

You can record, transcribe, and summarize audio in the Notes and Phone apps. If you record a phone call the participants will be notified, and once it ends you’ll get a summary.

Apple Intelligence uses large language and diffusion models. Private Cloud Compute allows it to draw on server-based models for more complex queries. The servers “offer the privacy and security of your iPhone”, as they never store your data. These promises will apparently be independently verifiable.

A big leap forward is coming to Siri, which was definitely in dire need of one. The assistant has a new look, and it promises to understand more natural language. Siri also remembers the context of your conversation, and you can now type to it. You can ask it questions about iOS features too.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Over “the course of the next year”, Siri will get on-screen awareness, and you will be able to use it to operate apps.

Apple’s rumored deal with OpenAI is real too, so now you get ChatGPT in iOS 18, which you can access through Siri. ChatGPT is also integrated into the systemwide writing tools.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Your requests and info won’t be logged. If you already subscribe to ChatGPT you can sign in so you get your premium features. ChatGPT is coming “later this year” so it may not be available upon launch – or at least not when the first iOS 18 beta comes out.

Other iOS 18 features

iOS 18 also comes with more customization features than ever before. You can customize your home screen more, including putting things on the grid in any order, changing app icon colors to complement the wallpaper (or not), and the Control Center is now more customizable too – with multiple pages and an API for developers to be able to offer you controls of their own for their third-party apps.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

You can now lock apps to keep them from prying eyes, and you can select which contacts apps can see so they don’t have to have access to all of them when you share your iPhone with them.

The new Passwords app is the place for you to access your passwords, but also passkeys, Wi-Fi passwords, and verification codes, all in the same place. The app will alert you regarding common weaknesses like passwords that are easily guessed or used multiple times, as well as those that appear in known data leaks.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Messages get “tapbacks” (which Apple really wants to be a word) with any emoji or sticker – don’t call them Reactions. There’s also support for scheduled messages, as well as text formatting with bold, underline, and italicizing, and effects like jitter, shake, and bounce. Oh, and on that front, the company has also confirmed that RCS support will be baked into iOS 18. Two-way satellite messaging will be a thing too, with end-to-end encryption no less.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

The Mail app gets on-device categorization with Primary, Transactions, Updates, and Promotions categories – yes, this is reminiscent of what Gmail introduced many, many years ago. There are also ‘digests’ of each category to quickly skim through them.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

Maps has new topographic maps with hiking routes that can be accessed offline, Wallet gets Tap to Cash as a way to exchange Apple cash just by holding two iPhones together. Journal gets an Insights view, and you can search for past entries. Game Mode is coming to iOS, minimizing background activity during play sessions, and dramatically improving responsiveness with game controllers and AirPods.

Photos has gotten a redesign, which Apple dubs its biggest ever. It reminds us of Sony’s Xperia Album from 2016, but maybe that’s just us. The app now opens up as a grid, with the library at the bottom. You get “collections” (which you can pin to the top) for things like people and pets, and you can filter out stuff like screenshots. The app also sorts images by faces, for quick access to shots of your friends and family.

iOS 18 is official with Apple Intelligence, more customization than ever

iOS 18 will be available as a public beta in July and will be released to the public in the fall. A developer beta is already out for those keen to test their apps on the new platform.

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