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Home / Features / Apple iOS 18 free upgrade preview: release date, features, and everything we know so far

Apple iOS 18 free upgrade preview: release date, features, and everything we know so far

All you need to know about Apple’s next-gen iPhone software update

OS-18

Are you gazing wistfully towards the horizon, dreaming of a world where your iPhone runs iOS 18? If so, then we admire your passion for phone operating systems. To help pass the time, we’ve rounded up everything we know about Apple’s upcoming phone update, so that you can have something to look forward to come release day. Enjoy!

iOS 18 release date

There’s no official release date for iOS 18 at the time of writing. But we can provide a very reasonable estimate, based on past events. Given that we tend to hear about iOS directly from Apple during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, we will almost certainly get our first glimpse of it in early June.

It’s very likely that a developer version of iOS 18 will launch at WWDC 2024, with a public beta releasing to the masses a few weeks later. This beta will be updated with new features and bug fixes all the way through to the final release date, which tends to coincide with the release of the next-gen iPhone (in this case, the iPhone 16), in September.

iOS 18 features

Details on iOS 18 features remain scarce for the time being, but there are a few scraps of information available, courtesy of the never-ending Apple rumour mill. One of these, unsurprisingly, is an increased AI presence. We say unsurprisingly because AI is the trend that keeps on growing, with giants like Google and Samsung incorporating more and more photography, search, and conversational AI smarts into their flagship handsets like the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro.

According to a report in The Information, Apple is heavily invested in developing conversational AI, providing, in essence, a turbo-charged Siri experience. Imagine automating complex tasks with multiple steps with simple voice commands, and you’re on the right track. This tracks with rumours that Apple is planning to launch its own AI chatbot later this year, which would, coincidentally, coincide with the expected release window of the iPhone 16 and iOS 18. Combined with leaks pointing to Apple using large language models for its Siri refresh, it could be a rather major change to the way we interact with iPhones in future.

With the new iPhone 16 expected to be the most powerful series to date (courtesy of Apple’s unreleased A18 silicon), this updated AI functionality is expected to run seamlessly on-device, while older iPhones that have upgraded to iOS 18 will likely have to rely on cloud processing, if at all.

Another likely (and welcome) iOS 18 feature is RCS support, which is a feature that Apple has already confirmed will be landing on the iPhone at some point this year. Without diving too deeply into the details, RCS (or Rich Communication Service) is a texting protocol used by Android messaging apps, which should mean better, smoother communication experiences between the two platforms — though, of course, those green and blue bubbles aren’t going anywhere. We’d like to think this is a rare and generous act of collaboration and goodwill on Apple’s part rather than the potential EU regulation that’s on the horizon, but who knows?

There have also been rumours that Apple will enable even greater customisation of the home screen in iOS 18 – not exactly groundbreaking but welcome all the same. Although you can currently choose icons and widgets, the screen is still locked to quite a rigid grid system. The iOS 18 update is said to enable you to have greater choice over arrangements and even create blank spaces, something that’s only been possible using third-party apps so far.

That’s all the info we have on iOS 18 for the time being, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted on more updates as they come in.

Which devices are likely to get iOS 18?

Of course, we don’t currently know which devices will get iOS 18. But based on recent evidence we can predict a list. Of these, we wonder whether Apple will drop support for the iPhone SE (2nd gen) as well as the iPhone XS/XR generation. However, we’ve kept them here for now as current leaks suggest that the iOS 17 supported devices will also receive the update to iOS 18. Obviously the upcoming iPhone 16 series will also be running iOS 18.

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)

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About

Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.

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