iOS 18 is expected to be released in the second half of this year, and Apple is expected to take the wraps off its next iPhone operating system update in the coming months at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024. The maker of the iPhone is releasing an early version of the iOS 18 update to factories and other partners for quality control testing. It is said to be a limited version of Apple’s iOS operating system, with inappropriate apps and features removed from the user interface (UI) before being distributed by the company.

According to MacRumors report which cites a private X (formerly Twitter) account that is said to have a good track record of leaking Apple-related details, the iPhone maker has begun sharing a version of iOS 18 called “VendorUI” in a controlled manner with ” factories and respective sellers’. This version contains some iOS elements that are expected to be unveiled by the company in the coming months at WWDC 2024.

Apple develops five different versions of iOS each year, according to the report. Two of them — LLDiags (a low-level diagnostic version) and NonUI (a version for hardware engineers and calibrators) are prepared without the iOS UI. Meanwhile, VendorUI (used in testing factories) and InternalUI (used by Apple engineers) contain pre-production versions of iOS. Apple’s “Release” version is the one that finally rolls out to users with all the visuals, apps, and features of iOS.

Since most apps and features that are not compatible with factories and their respective vendors are not included in the VendorUI image, we can expect to learn more about some parts of the iOS 18 user interface in the future, before WWDC 2024. Previous reports indicate , that Apple is working on redesigning the mobile operating system interface with the upcoming iOS 18 update, including some visual elements from visionOS, Apple’s operating system for the Vision Pro mixed reality headset.

According to previous reports, Apple is expected to focus on bringing many new AI features and functionality to eligible iPhone models with the iOS 18 update. Bloomberg’s Mark German previously stated that the company hopes the iOS 18 update, inspired by artificial intelligence, expected to arrive later this year, will convince more customers to upgrade to the iPhone 16 series of smartphones. The next-generation iPhone lineup and iOS 18 software update could be released in the third quarter of 2024, based on on the company’s launch schedule in recent years.

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