IOS 18 tipped to be “the biggest” update in iPhone history

This year's version of iOS is set to be one of the biggest iPhone upgrades ever. It'll be smarter and more sociable too

iOS 17 montage
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 17 (above) was a pretty big upgrade for iPhone users, but a new report says it's small potatoes compared to what we'll see this year. iOS 18, which is scheduled for release in the Autumn, promises to be a huge upgrade – and inside Apple it's apparently being described as the biggest iOS upgrade ever.

The news comes via old faithful Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, who told his Power On newsletter subscribers: "I'm told that the new operating system is seen within the company as one of the biggest iOS updates — if not the biggest — in the company's history." While he didn't go into any detail about what the update will include, we already know about two potentially very big changes: RCS support and an AI-enhanced Siri.

What to expect from iOS 18

RCS support is going to be a big deal, because it means Apple's Messages app on iPhone will be a lot nicer to Android users. While Apple's interpretation isn't going to include every feature that's available on Android, it will support the crucial ones: audio messaging, higher resolution photos and higher quality video, read receipts, typing indicators, better group chat and better encryption. While many of these features already exist in Messages they're for Apple-to-Apple sessions or exist in third party messaging apps. Rolling them out in Messages means iPhones will become a lot more sociable.

The other big deal is going to be Siri, which after years of falling behind the competition is expected to get a huge AI upgrade this year. As previously reported, Apple's Ajax – its equivalent to the likes of Microsoft's CoPilot and Google's Bard – is coming to Siri, as well as into core apps such as Pages and Keynote. The most obvious result is likely to be a more useful Siri that doesn't keep telling you to look things up on your iPhone, and that can better understand more complex queries. That should mean a big boost to things such as smart home control, and could help Siri catch up with other, more useful personal digital assistants.

We're expecting to find out much more in June, when Apple has its annual developer's conference. And no doubt we'll see a few more iOS 18 leaks before then too.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (