Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Apple unveils iOS 18: Enhanced customization, redesigned Photos app, and new Apple Intelligence

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At WWDC today, Apple took the wraps off iOS 18, a major update to the iPhone operating system that offers a wealth of new customization options, a comprehensive redesign of the Photos app, improved communication tools, and the introduction of Apple Intelligence, the company’s “personal intelligence” system.

With iOS 18, users gain greater control over their Home Screen, Lock Screen, and Control Center. Apps and widgets can be arranged in any open space on the Home Screen and users can customize buttons at the bottom of the Lock Screen. The redesigned Control Center offers quick access to frequently used controls, such as media playback, Home controls, and connectivity options. Users can also add controls from supported third-party apps.

The Photos app receives its most extensive redesign, making it easier to find and relive special moments. A simplified single view displays a familiar grid, and new collections help users browse by themes without organizing content into albums. Collections can be pinned to keep favorites easily accessible.

iMessage introduces new text effects and formatting options. The app now supports RCS for richer media and better group messaging when communicating with users not on Apple devices. Satellite messaging allows users to send and receive messages via satellite when no cellular or Wi-Fi connection is available, which could come in very handy indeed.

Mail now features on-device intelligence to sort emails into categories for a more organized inbox. Safari introduces Highlights and a revamped Reader experience for distraction-free reading.

The new Passwords app consolidates access to passwords, passkeys, Wi-Fi credentials, and verification codes. Users receive alerts about weak passwords and those exposed in data leaks, enhancing security. Other new privacy features include allowing users to lock and hide apps to keep their information secure. Apps can be locked with Face ID, Touch ID, or a device passcode, ensuring private information remains unseen by others.

Apple Intelligence, which is unquestionably Apple’s biggest innovation in years, offers tools for creating text and images, performing actions across apps, and simplifying daily tasks while, Apple says, prioritizing user privacy. Writing tools for proofreading, rewriting, and summarizing text are available within apps like Mail, Notes, and Pages. The Image Playground feature allows users to create animated, illustrated, or sketched images easily.

“We are thrilled to introduce iOS 18. It is a huge release with incredible features, including new levels of customization and capability, a redesigned Photos app, and powerful ways to stay connected with Messages. There are so many benefits for everyone,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “This release also marks the beginning of a tremendously exciting new era of personal intelligence with Apple Intelligence delivering intuitive, powerful, and instantly useful experiences that will transform the iPhone experience, all with privacy at the core. We can’t wait for users to experience it.”

The developer beta of iOS 18 is available now, with a public beta launching soon, and a full release expected this fall for iPhone Xs and later.

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