New in iOS 18: Drive Formatting for iPhone and iPad

Apple is enhancing the user experience for iPhone and iPad users by introducing the ability to format external drives directly from their devices. This new feature, found in the latest iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 developer betas, eliminates the need for a Mac and offers greater convenience and flexibility.

Key Discoveries in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18

  1. File Format Options: Kaleb Cadle, writing in his ByteBits substack, uncovered new file format options in the Files app.
  2. User Interaction: Users can right-click or hold press on an external drive in the Files app and select “Erase” to access these new formatting options.

New File Format Options

  • APFS (Case Sensitive or Encrypted)
  • ExFAT
  • MS-DOS (FAT)

These formats align with those available in Disk Utility, excluding macOS-specific extensions.

Enhanced User Experience

  • Ease of Use: Users can now format external drives without a Mac, making the process more convenient.
  • Familiar Options: The inclusion of familiar formatting options from Disk Utility ensures a seamless user experience.
  • Beta Availability: iPadOS 18 and iOS 18 are currently in beta, with the second developer betas set for release soon.

Benefits for Power Users

  • Greater Control: Power users gain more control over file management and drive formatting.
  • Streamlined Workflow: Eliminates the need to switch between devices, streamlining workflows.
  • Expanded Capabilities: Reflects Apple’s commitment to enhancing iPadOS capabilities.

Key Points

Key PointDetails
New Formatting OptionsAPFS (Case Sensitive or Encrypted), ExFAT, MS-DOS (FAT) available in the Files app.
User InteractionRight-click or hold press on an external drive to access “Erase” and format options.
Enhanced FunctionalityMajor improvement for iPad power users, offering more control directly from the device.
Consistency with Disk UtilityOptions mirror those in Disk Utility, excluding macOS extensions.
ConvenienceUsers can format external drives without a Mac, simplifying the process.
Beta ReleaseiPadOS 18 and iOS 18 are in beta, with second developer betas releasing soon.
Future EnhancementsApple is likely to refine this feature throughout the beta cycle.
User BenefitsGreater control, streamlined workflow, and expanded capabilities for power users.
Integration ApproachSimilar to how Apple integrated Preview app functionality into the Files app via Quick Look.
Professional ApplicationUseful for professionals who require advanced file management on-the-go.
File ManagementImproved file management directly from iPads and iPhones.
Technology AdoptionReflects Apple’s strategy to enhance device functionality.
Ease of AccessNew options provide more accessible and user-friendly formatting tools.
System IntegrationHighlights integration of macOS features into iPadOS.
Beta CycleContinuous improvements expected during the beta cycle.

MacReview’s Verdict

Apple’s introduction of drive formatting options directly in the Files app for iPhone and iPad users is a significant enhancement. This feature reflects Apple’s commitment to improving user experience and device functionality. By integrating these options, Apple empowers users with more control and convenience, making iPads and iPhones even more powerful tools for both personal and professional use.

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