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iOS 18 Overhauls Home Screen, Messaging, Photos

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Jun 10, 2024, 1:01 PM   by Rich Brome
updated Jun 10, 2024, 1:06 PM

Updated: Added release timing info.

Apple just announced iOS 18 for iPhones. The update will bring a slew of new features, with the biggest changes coming to home screen icons, messaging, and the Photos app. You'll now be able to put app icons anywhere, even at the bottom of the screen. Icons also have a special dark mode appearance, and a monochrome appearance that lets you customize them all to the color of your choice. Other new features let you lock or hide specific apps (and their data) so they're unavailable when you hand your phone to someone else. Finally, there's a new option for extra-large app icons. A major new service is Messages by Satellite, which lets you communicate via iMessage or SMS over a satellite connection even in non-emergency situations. Like Apple's existing SOS service, it requires that you point your phone at a certain part of the sky, which it guides you through. This feature offers end-to-end encryption. As promised, Messages now supports RCS for rich messaging compatibility with Android phones. iMessage will also now let you Tapback with any emoji, and apply formatting and animations ("Text effects") to your text. Finally, Messages will now let you schedule messages to be sent automatically at a later time. The Photos app gets a complete redesign, with a single home screen that shows the photos grid in the upper half and Collections below that. New automatic Collections include Recent Day and Trips, as well as People and Pets to group photos by who's in them. The grid has date tools and filters. Maps gains topographical maps, including offline hiking maps. Tap to Cash lets you send money to someone else just be tapping your phones together. Apple Wallet also gains enhanced event tickets that automatically include venue info, including maps. The Mail app gains new automatic Categorization. A new Game Mode minimizes background activity for better performance, and improves audio latency. Control Center also gets a major upgrade with third-party Controls, multiple pages of controls, and the ability to re-arrange and even resize controls. Third-party Controls can be assigned to lock screen shortcuts or the physical action button on iPhones that have one. A new feature of macOS called iPhone Mirroring lets you wirelessly view and use your iPhone from your Mac. It also integrates your iPhone notifications with your Mac notifications. Apple also introduced whole new password manager called Passwords, that's available for iOS and many other platforms. A beta version of iOS 18 will be available to developers today. Apple promises a public beta next month, and the final version this fall.

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