New iOS 18 features prove Apple is changing its ways

Anurag Singh
iOS 18 features are shown on various iPhones.

Apple announced iOS 18 earlier this month at WWDC. It brings loads of new features, and while these features are appreciated, iOS 18 is the most out-of-character move I’ve ever seen from Apple.

Apple spends a lot on research and development, ranking fourth among companies with the highest R&D expenditures at over $27 billion a year. This investment is clear in Apple products, which stand out from the competition.

Apple’s famous for doing things its own way, designing everything from the software and chips down to the screens and batteries in their iPhones. Most other phone makers mix and match parts from different companies. But with iOS 18, Apple’s loosening its grip a little.

Image showing iOS Logo

The new version of iOS version lets you tap into ChatGPT. It’s not built directly into the system, but you can opt-in to have Siri consult ChatGPT for tougher questions. This is a bit surprising for Apple, since it usually likes to keep things in-house. Apple even (indirectly) acknowledged that ChatGPT can do some things better than its own tech.

Another change that’s a bit of a shift for Apple is the new home screen customization. You can now tweak your home screen by changing app icon colors and placement. It’s a welcome change, but honestly, the options themselves aren’t the most stylish. It’s strange to see Apple loosen its grip on how things look.

iOS 18’s ChatGPT integration is not like Apple at all

Apple unveiled an entirely new approach to artificial intelligence, even changing its name to Apple Intelligence during its WWDC keynote. These are things you’d expect from Apple, but what you won’t expect is that the company included ChatGPT as an opt-in to get more complex responses and analysis.

For tasks needing more AI power than Apple’s on-device or cloud models can handle, ChatGPT is available as an opt-in feature. Apple even mentioned it might add other chatbots in the future, like Google Gemini, which matches some pre-WWDC rumors.

This shows Apple doesn’t plan to launch its own large language model, even though the rest of the industry is all over it. According to a New York Times report, Apple is having trouble creating a solid AI strategy and struggling to hire and keep top AI researchers.

iOS 18 customizability options miss the mark

iOS 18 features

Apple never actually let users tweak the home screen too much, and that’s what kept it aesthetically pleasing. However, iOS 18 lets users change app sizes and move them to different parts of the screen after updating. It’s also possible to make further adjustments to the Control Center. These are all welcome changes. I, for one, wanted to see some customization options on iOS 18.

While Apple deserves credit for shaking things up, the new design choices in iOS 18 aren’t quite hitting the mark. The colored app icons, the odd-looking Siri icon, and that strange glowing background effect all feel a bit off – like Apple might have missed the mark on its usual design sense.

The Photos app redesign is a particular letdown.  Starting this fall, everything will be crammed into one big view instead of being spread out across separate tabs.  I get that Apple was trying something new, but honestly, this new layout doesn’t look good.

Apple might be taking inspiration from Android

iOS 18 can be considered the iOS version closest to Android. The customizability options that I discussed above have been on the best Android phones for ages. Plus, Apple has also added features like Rich Communication Services (RCS), App Lock, Game Mode, and more. Even though iOS 18 is not like other iOS versions, it’s good to see Apple bringing in features that have been much needed for a long time.

The unlike-Apple changes in iOS 18 might suggest that the Cupertino company is changing its ways and perhaps planning something bigger for the future. But, only time will tell if Apple continues on this trajectory, or if these integrations are just a blip for the storied tech giant.

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