Image: An Apple Store in Shibuya, Japan. Flickr user Dick Thomas Johnson // CC 2.0 License

Apple is steadily progressing towards the public release of iOS 18, its next major iPhone operating system iteration. Following the introduction of the first developer beta in June, the company has unveiled iOS 18 Developer Beta 2, offering developers and enthusiasts a deeper look at upcoming features.

With the latest beta release, iPhone Mirroring is now available to beta developers. This feature, demonstrated at WWDC 2024, allows users to mirror their iPhone screen onto a Mac running macOS Sequoia Beta 2. This integration facilitates a more unified user experience across Apple devices, enabling users to receive calls, view notifications, control apps, and transfer files between their iPhone and Mac through a simple drag-and-drop interface. The mirroring function is particularly beneficial for professionals who rely on both devices for their workflow, as it allows for seamless transitions between different tasks. iPhone Mirroring is available on the beta of macOS Sequoia as well.

Another significant addition in iOS 18 Developer Beta 2 is the introduction of a new toggle for RCS (Rich Communication Services) Messaging in the iPhone settings. RCS is designed to replace traditional SMS, offering advanced features like typing indicators, high-resolution media sharing, and end-to-end encryption. However, this feature is currently only visible to users in the United States whose carriers support RCS, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Although the functionality is not yet activated, its inclusion signals Apple’s intent to enhance messaging capabilities on its devices.

Building on the Dark Mode features introduced in the first beta, iOS 18 Developer Beta 2 allows users to further customize their home screens. The update introduces a new dark-themed icon for the App Store and offers a wallpaper tinting option to darken the home screen background. These enhancements provide users with more control over their device’s appearance, contributing to a more personalized and visually cohesive user interface. The ability to hide app, folder, and widget names, initially rolled out in the first beta, continues to offer a clutter-free home screen experience.

In a move to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), iOS 18 Developer Beta 2 includes support for alternative app stores and allows users to download apps directly from websites. This compliance measure is a significant shift for Apple, which has traditionally maintained strict control over app distribution through its App Store. By enabling third-party app stores and direct app downloads, Apple aims to align with regulatory requirements (since the non-compliance has already landed it in hot waters in the EU).

iOS 18 Developer Beta 2 also introduces several other usability enhancements. A new widget for Connected Cards in the Wallet app provides users with quick access to their cards, enhancing the convenience of managing digital finances. The Passwords app now features a “+” icon, allowing users to save new entries swiftly, streamlining password management. Additionally, the Control Centre has been updated to offer enhanced feedback for the power button, improving the overall user experience.