iPhone with iOS 18
Adam Breeden/ZDNET

On Monday, Apple kicked off its third developer beta of iOS 18, bringing several new tricks and a host of bug fixes. Designed for iPhone users who register as developers, the latest update adds greater carrier support for RCS messaging, changes to the Photos app, tweaks to the emoji keyboard, and new visuals for the flashlight.

First on the list continues to be RCS messaging, a long-awaited feature that Apple started rolling out with iOS 18 Beta 2. Thanks to RCS (Rich Communications Service) support, iPhone users can send their Android friends messages with read receipts, high-res photos and videos, audio clips, cool emojis, and more.

iOS 18 Beta 2 limited carrier support for RCS to Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in the US, but Beta 3 expands support to more providers. This includes carriers such as Videotron, Telus Mobility, and Bell in Canada, as well as Telefonica in Spain, SFR in France, and O2 in Germany, according to 9to5Mac.

Also: The best iOS 18 features that will make updating your iPhone worthwhile

Next on the list is the Photos app. During the iOS 18 beta period so far, the new version of the app has triggered concerns from some beta testers, who’ve given a thumbs down to the new interface. Changes in Beta 3, however, show that Apple isn’t done tweaking the app.

With the latest update, the handy Select button is visible all the time, allowing you to easily run commands on multiple photos. You can also now pinch to zoom in and out of your photo views. Like other beta testers, I’ve been concerned about the new look and layout for the Photos app, so I hope Apple continues to fine-tune it.

The emoji keyboard is another feature that Apple has improved in Beta 3. When choosing this keyboard from the Messages app, the emoji icons are a tad larger. For me, this is a welcome change, as I sometimes have trouble seeing the finer details on an emoji I want to use in a text.

Another tweak in Beta 3 affects the wallpaper for your Home screen and Lock screen. If you choose one of the new iOS 18 wallpaper images, the colors change as the day progresses. You can start off by selecting a specific color or tone and then watch it gradually morph over time. The wallpaper seems like such a trivial feature, but considering how often you look at your phone’s screen, the right visuals can make a difference.

The flashlight is another seemingly minor feature, but how often do you use it when you don’t have a real flashlight? In the previous iOS 18 developer beta, Apple tweaked the flashlight to give iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro owners a way to vary the brightness and adjust the width of the beam. With iOS 18 Beta 3, the flashlight now displays a curved line to indicate the width and brightness of the beam, as well as the peak intensity.

Also: How to use and customize your iPhone’s new Control Center with iOS 18

Also in Beta 3, Apple is trying to drum up more interest for its Journal app. Designed to prompt you to record thoughts about your daily events and activities, the new version lets you log your journaling time to the Health app as Mindful Minutes. You can also journal based on walks or runs, as well as people and pets from the Photos app. I have to confess that I used the Journal app for a few weeks, but then lost interest. I still think a journal is a good idea, so I hope Apple continues to refine the app.

To try out the new features, you’ll need to install the latest developer beta of iOS 18. Remember that any beta release can be buggy and unstable. For that reason, don’t install this on your primary phone or one you need for regular work and other important tasks.

I’m running the beta on a secondary iPhone that I use solely for testing. If you want to check out iOS 18 and don’t have an extra iPhone to spare, consider waiting. A public beta of the new OS is due sometime this month, with a general release expected in September 2024.


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