Apple’s WWDC Presentation Changed My Mind About iOS 18. Here’s Why

Before Apple announced iOS 18 on Monday at their Worldwide Developers Conference, I wasn’t looking forward to the next iPhone operating system. I’ve tested dozens of iOS versions and numerous features, but the rumored iOS 18 features didn’t spark excitement for me. Leaks pointed to the implementation of generative artificial intelligence, which made me dread the OS. I hoped I was wrong about iOS 18 — that it would offer some useful new features people have been asking for — and it appears my wish came true.

Apple mentioned a few new features that I didn’t find compelling, or even necessary, because you could already do some of these things. But overall, when Apple’s iOS 18 presentation was over, I was impressed. I’m looking forward to the operating system’s fall release, because I’m sure I’ll use some of these changes for years to come.

Here are some iOS 18 features from the presentation that I’m looking forward to — and a few I probably won’t use much.

Home and lock screen customization


Apple Dark look for iOS 18 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Thank you, Apple, but also, it’s about time. I’ve wanted both of these options for a while, and I wasn’t anticipating getting them simultaneously.

I’ve always felt weird about setting my wife or dog as my background just to have the Instagram or Spotify icons plastered over their faces. I’ve grouped apps in folders and hidden some icons in the App Library so they wouldn’t obstruct my background. But with iOS 18, I won’t run into that issue, because I can arrange my icons around my background.

I’ve also wanted to change my lock screen’s functions since Android introduced this ability in 2023. I don’t need a camera function on my lock screen when I can just swipe right to access my camera. And I really don’t need my flashlight to turn on when I put my phone in my pocket. It wasn’t clear what functions would be available for the lock screen, but I’d probably get more use out of Quick Notes.

Control Center gives you more… control


ios 18 on iphone screen Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

Control Center is an iPhone feature that I would best describe as wonky. It feels crammed with controls I don’t necessarily need, and I can’t remove or adjust them. Adding controls is cumbersome and just makes the feature feel even more bloated.

But when Apple showed how iOS 18 lets you customize your Control Center layout and gives you additional Control Center screens, I was excited. I’ll be able to take the bloat from Control Center and spread it out across multiple screens. Easily adding controls also makes this a feature I’ll likely get more use out of moving forward instead of throwing my hands up in frustration.

Along with the home and lock screen, it feels like Apple is finally listening to people’s desires to customize their iPhone’s display features to better suit their needs and wants.

I’m so excited for these Messages upgrades


ios 18 birthday message on iphone Apple/Screenshot by CNET

I didn’t think I’d be thrilled for new and different ways of sending messages to people, but here we are. Apple announced that iOS 18 will let you schedule messages to send later, add text effects to emphasize words or phrases, and it’ll upgrade your Tapbacks — Apple’s version of Reactions. It’s like Apple read my mind about what I wanted in Messages and then sprinkled in a little more.

First, scheduling messages for later has been at the top of my wish list for years. I’ve done shift work and had an unusual sleep schedule for over a decade, so while most people are wide awake at 7 p.m. I’m in bed, and vice versa for 4 a.m. I don’t want to wake people up with messages, and I appreciate when people show me the same courtesy.

Next, I didn’t know I wanted text effects, but I really do. I have a lot of feelings and am easily excitable, and I want to make sure that comes across in my messages. I want to bold and italicize words to emphasize things. I want emojis to nod on screen to show my enthusiasm for something. And most of all, I want the person on the other end of my messages to feel how excited I am for something and sometimes caps lock JUST DOESN’T DO THE TRICK.

Finally, I welcome more Tapbacks. The six current reactions — heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, “Haha,” exclamation points and question mark — can be confusing for some people or signal the end of a chat for others. You can use stickers to access the full range of emojis to react to messages, but the sticker would usually block part of the message. More reactions will hopefully help communicate a person’s emotions quickly and succinctly and not leave as much up for interpretation.

There was also a short mention of RCS coming to iPhones. I know a lot of people are excited about the feature, but personally I’m indifferent to it. My messages go through without RCS. I know a lot of Android users are happy about this change, but I could have gone another five years without it on my iPhone, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

State of mind in Journal

The Journal app open on an iPhone Your iPhone’s Journal app gets a few upgrades with iOS 18. Patrick Holland/CNET

I regularly journal, and it wasn’t until Apple’s mention yesterday of this new feature in the Journal app that I realized I only really recount what I did during the day. My entries are mostly a way to remember what I did. But rarely have I ever delved into how I felt during those moments I’m writing about. So I’m excited about this Journal upgrade that allows me to more meaningfully reflect on my own mental state by asking me how I’m feeling. Yeah, it’s not the most flashy or intuitive in any way, but I’m hoping it will help me keep track of my internal and external well-being.

Game Mode was a welcome surprise

game-plus-charge Jeff Carlson/CNET

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started gaming more and more on my iPhone 14 Pro. Subscriptions to Apple Arcade and Netflix Games, as well as connecting my Xbox controller to my iPhone, have made this transition to mobile gaming easy.
With Game Mode, background activity is minimized, which means I can hopefully play a little longer without fear of my iPhone dying or my game being interrupted by a slew of notifications. That also means better frame rates and lower latency for Bluetooth connected devices, like controllers, all of which should make gaming smoother on my iPhone.

I’m not going to say your iPhone will be your new favorite gaming console, but it could be a great travel companion if you want to game on the go but don’t have extra room for a Switch, Steamdeck or other handheld console.

iOS 18 features I probably won’t use much

There were a bunch of features Apple announced at WWDC that I don’t think I’ll get a whole lot of use out of, but others might.

New app privacy features

Keeping apps off your home screen feels redundant since you can already remove apps from your home screen and find them in your App Library. Locking your apps could provide an extra layer of security in case your iPhone gets stolen, but having to unlock your phone and then your apps might feel cumbersome. I could also see locking apps being useful for people with children who want to keep their kids out of certain apps, but then we wouldn’t get those fun videos of babies running around with their parent’s phone, and I’m not willing to give up those national treasures.

More Mail categories

I see the utility in having separate categories for your emails to keep newsletters, ads and other messages neatly organized, but I don’t get enough emails on a daily basis to make this a big deal for me. I could see this being useful for someone with a work phone, though.

Topographic maps in Maps

If I were a hiker, or lived in a hilly region, I’d probably be more excited about this. But the extent of my hiking experience is walking trails in Gatlinburg, Tennessee every few years, and my neighborhood is flat. Yeah, hiking is fun every now and then, but I like my home. It’s where my things are.

Tap to Cash

Apple Tap to Cash iPhone iOS 18 Screenshot by CNET

This makes me nervous because what happens if someone takes my iPhone and quickly sends themselves money from my Apple Cash? It’s unclear what kind of safeguards will be in place to prevent someone from doing this, but hopefully Apple’s thought of this and is ahead of me.

Revamped Photos app

I don’t take enough photos for this to affect me, but I’m also unsure if this was necessary. People can already create their own albums, the Photos app already creates memories around things like events and places you visit, and the app already organizes photos based on days, months and years. While Apple said it redesigned and retooled the app, it sounds like the company just rebranded the app’s features.

Apple Intelligence

I have no desire to use any of these features outside of trying them once to see what they do. Creating Genmojis sounds like a novelty. I don’t use Siri regularly nor do I anticipate using it more in the future, and why would I want my iPhone to summarize messages or generate a message to send? If my line of work didn’t give it away, I like reading and writing.

iOS 18 can’t get here soon enough

Despite not being thrilled by some of iOS 18’s new features, I’m still counting down the days until its release in the fall. And I’m so excited for it because it upgrades the things I use regularly, and I can see myself using those new features for a long time.

I’m always looking at my home or lock screen, so being able to customize it — while not novel — will give me more of a sense of ownership over my iPhone. I use Messages almost every day, and it sounds like the upgrades to the app will positively impact the way I communicate with others. Even Game Mode is a welcome addition for my iPhone as I rely on it more for gaming.

And while I don’t regularly use some of the features being upgraded in iOS 18, others will likely enjoy those features and upgrades and get plenty of use out of them.

Here’s hoping iOS 18 lives up to the hype.

For more on Apple, you can check out everything the company announced at WWDC 2024, all the features in iOS 18 and how to download the iOS 18 developer beta now.

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