Fast Charge: I can’t wait for these five rumoured iOS 18 features

OPINION: WWDC is right around the corner, with the big opening keynote scheduled for Monday at Apple Park. But like in previous years, we’ve seen plenty of leaks in the run-up to WWDC that give us a good idea of what Apple has got up its sleeve.

That’s particularly true of iOS 18 this year, with an absolute bevvy of leaked features doing the rounds online that point towards a particularly transformative update for the iPhone focused on, yes, you guessed it, AI smarts.

It’s the big feature in 2024 with a growing number of phones capable of running on-device GenAI tasks like voice note transcription, real-time translation and more. If Apple wants to compete with the Android competition, it has some catching up to do.

With that in mind, here are five of my favourite features rumoured to be coming to the iPhone with iOS 18 ahead of its official reveal early next week. 

An AI-powered Siri experience

Siri is a bit of an oddity; despite being one of the first virtual assistants to launch, well ahead of Amazon’s Alexa et al, it has lagged behind the competition in recent years. While competing smart assistants are capable of more advanced tasks in 2024, like looking up search results to answer your query, the same can’t be said for Siri.

Well, that looks like it’s about to change with iOS 18. The rumour first came ahead of the iOS 17 launch early last September, with The Information claiming that Apple wants Siri to be way smarter in iOS 18, able to handle complex multi-step tasks and more. 

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The publication gave the example of Siri possibly being able to take a series of five photos, stitch them into a GIF and send the GIF to a friend, all with a single action. It’s said that Siri will be more deeply integrated with the Shortcuts app to make this possible, though a more recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims it goes way further than that.

Standby Mode on iOS 17Standby Mode on iOS 17
Image Credit: Apple

Per the report, Apple is said to have completely re-engineered Siri’s underlying code with LLM support, the tech that powers chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Gemini. In fact, Apple has been rumoured to partner with ChatGPT creator OpenAI and Google to bring AI elements to the iPhone experience, though it’s expected that Apple will use its own LLM to power the Siri experience.

Gurman claims that the upgraded Siri will be able to perform tasks like opening specific documents, moving a note from one folder to another, deleting emails, summarising articles and more. It’s also said that the iPhone will be able to analyse what users are doing on their devices and automatically enable features to make life a little easier.

The only disappointment is that Gurman claims the functionality won’t be ready in time for the launch of iOS 18 in September. Instead, Apple is rumoured to launch the overhauled Siri as part of a smaller iOS 18 update sometime in 2025. 

RCS support in Messages

Getting Apple to adopt RCS support has been somewhat of an uphill battle, with companies like Google campaigning for Apple to adopt support for some time – it even had a website set up outlining all the benefits, including improved security compared to regular SMS texting, to help make its case.

Well, Apple finally relented in late 2023, confirming that the iPhone would support the cross-platform messaging standard in the Messages app “later” in 2024, suggesting that it’ll be an iOS 18 feature.

iPhone 15 Plus on a tableiPhone 15 Plus on a table
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

As someone who regularly communicates with Android users, it’s a real boon as I’ll no longer need to rely on third-party services like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to send high-res photos and videos, audio messages and more. 

It’ll also bring functionality like typing indicators, read receipts, Wi-Fi messaging and improved group chat support, allowing me to bring all my messaging needs into the Apple Messages app for the first time. It won’t get rid of that horrible shade of green that iPhone users see when messaging an Android user, but hey, we can’t win them all right?

Redesigned control center

Mark Gurman has also claimed that iOS 18 will include updates to the Control Center, suggesting that both the music widget and smart accessory controls will get upgrades that make them easier to use – though he hasn’t gone into detail about what exactly we should expect.

It’s a long time coming in my opinion; the Control Center is a handy feature for iPhone users, but it’s full of shortcuts and icons that don’t really make a lot of sense. 

That’s especially true of the music widget, which can display media not only from your iPhone but other Apple devices currently playing media. It can get frustratingly complicated if you want to control playback or change output from your iPhone to AirPods. 

An overhauled widget should hopefully make multi-device control much easier, but we’ll have to wait and see for now. 

New AI-powered Health features

The Apple Health app is one of the unsung heroes of the iOS experience in my opinion. It brings in data from most fitness apps, as well as your Apple Watch or other compatible wearable, allowing you to get a holistic overview of your health and fitness, as well as tracking health trends over time.

Well, it’s about to get even better in iOS 18 with rumours that it’ll boast new features powered by on-device AI – though we’re yet to hear the specifics of these alleged new features.

A brochure displaying multiple images showcasing features of Health applicationA brochure displaying multiple images showcasing features of Health application
Image Credit: Apple

I’d love to see Apple’s AI be able to analyse all the data within the Health app and then not only summarise that for you on request, but give you actionable intel on how to improve your health and fitness based on said data. 

Something similar is already avaialble in the form of the ChatGPT-powered Whoop Coach on the Whoop Band 4.0, a feature I use regularly to gain a deeper understanding of my metrics and trends over time. If that could see data from all health and fitness apps, not just Whoop, that’d be a game-changer – and that’s what I’m hoping for from iOS 18. 

AI-generated notification summaries

If you’re anything like me, your iPhone notifications are completely out of control. eBay missed item notifications? Check. Random game notifications trying to get me to log in for free gifts? Check. Emails, social media notifications, reminders? Check, check, and check again. 

This means that, especially in the mornings, I wake up to an absolute wall of notifications on my iPhone. It usually takes me a few minutes to go through them, clear the junk, and leave those I want to interact with – after my morning cup of tea, of course. 

Apple should make things a little easier to digest in iOS 18, with Siri rumoured to be able to generate handy notification summaries that give you a quick overview of your missed notifications. There’s no word on how exactly that’ll happen, but anything that’ll help me take control of my sprawling notifications is a welcome addition in my book.

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