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iOS 18 makes an 11-year-old iPhone feature exciting again

Someone holding an iPhone 14, showing the Lock Screen.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Following the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2024) keynote, developers are starting to dig into the first iOS 18 developer beta. Though this beta lacks Apple Intelligence and many of the other features demoed on Monday, it offers a surprising new take on an old iOS feature: the flashlight.

The built-in flashlight feature has been available on the iPhone since iOS 7, which was released in 2013. It hasn’t changed much at all since then, which makes sense, given its basic function. Interestingly, it has received a significant update in iOS 18.

Previously, iOS allowed you to change the brightness levels of your iPhone’s flashlight. Now, in iOS 18, you can adjust the beam pattern of the light — allowing you to make the flashlight beam wider or narrower. This slick trick was first mentioned by Snazzy Labs on X (formerly Twitter), although many others have discovered it, including Android Authority.

The iPhone 15 Pro has a super neat trick up its sleeve in iOS 18. Not only can you change the brightness, but even the beam pattern! pic.twitter.com/EZzPCmV5sD

— Snazzy Labs (@SnazzyLabs) June 11, 2024

If you have an iPhone with iOS 18 installed, you can find the flashlight icon in the Control Center. Tap on it to bring up a nicely sized flashlight icon at the top middle of the device. From there, you can change the brightness level of the light and, now, its radius.

The Apple beta season has just begun for the year. As a result, there may be changes to how the flashlight functions in future iOS 18 beta versions. It’s also possible, although less likely, that the company will remove the new feature before iOS 18 is released to the public in the fall. Nonetheless, the iOS 18 flashlight update came as a pleasant surprise, and it’s unlike anything currently available on Android.

During the WWDC keynote, Apple revealed iOS 18 alongside iPadOS 18, watchOS 11, visionOS 2, and macOS 15 Sequoia. It also announced updates for Apple TV and AirPods. The most significant announcement, however, was Apple Intelligence. The all-encompassing AI tool could change the game and affect (in a good way) each of Apple’s most important devices going forward.

If you want to check out the new flashlight tool and the rest of iOS 18, you can install the beta now on your supported iPhone. As a reminder, this is the first developer version, which lacks many new features and is likely to contain bugs. Apple recommends not installing iOS 18 on your everyday iPhone. If you want to wait, a better time to install iOS 18 is when the first public beta is released, which is likely to happen sometime next month.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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