Apple recently started distributing internal builds of iOS 18 to factories and relevant vendors, according to credible information shared on X by a private account with a track record of sharing accurate details on Apple’s plans. The version of iOS that Apple provides at this stage is called “VendorUI,” and access to it is strictly controlled.

Sent out on an annual basis, VendorUI is a variant of iOS that is provided to factories for quality control testing. Because it has a pre-production version of the iOS user interface that Apple won’t publicly unveil until WWDC, Apple is careful about where it is distributed. VendorUI can include references to new features, new settings or changes in branding. Unlike the versions of iOS used by Apple’s software engineers, VendorUI often has certain apps omitted, ensuring that only the apps necessary for testing are present.

With every iOS release, Apple develops several different versions of iOS:

  • Release – Stock iOS intended for end-consumers.
  • InternalUI – Created for Apple’s software engineers, often contains pre-production version of the iOS user interface, with unreleased and unannounced features.
  • VendorUI – Designed for quality control testing in factories and can contain elements of pre-production iOS user interface.
  • NonUI – Developed for hardware engineers and calibration machines, does not feature the standard iOS user interface.
  • LLDiags – Intended for use in low-level diagnostics and has no user interface at all except for a simple diagnostics menu (Diags).

The distribution of the VendorUI version of ‌iOS 18‌ means that we could soon start seeing more iOS features leak because the operating system is available to a larger number of people.

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Even without VendorUI, information about iOS has started to come out. We’ve heard that ‌iOS 18‌ will have a heavy focus on AI, and there will be new Accessibility features, such as Adaptive Voice Shortcuts and Live Speech Categories. Internal versions of iOS can also contain hardware information, and back in December, we shared details on the iPhone 16 hardware sourced from ‌iOS 18‌ code.

To learn more about the features that are expected in ‌iOS 18‌, check out our dedicated rumor roundup page for iOS 18.

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