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WWDC24: what will AI functionality on iOS 18 look like?

WWDC24: what will AI functionality on iOS 18 look like?

WWDC24 is supposed to be the moment Apple breaks out with AI developments. There is no telling if they will keep up with the competition, as updates for the upcoming iOS 18 are limited compared to competitors’ offerings.

AI is gaining prominence in our lives. Smart technology will become something we carry with us at all times via our smartphones. This has already taken some shape in Samsung‘s devices and those from other competitors, but there was little news from Apple’s corner. WWDC24, which takes place on June 10, promises to be the go-ahead for the iOS operating system to add AI functionalities.

ChatGPT or something else?

The event would be a good time to unpack a partnership with OpenAI. The company is reportedly in the works to integrate the technology behind ChatGPT into iOS 18, for which a partnership with OpenAI is crucial. Those plans, by the way, are not set in stone. For example, the company is also said to be in talks with Google. The company would be interested in using the LLM Gemini, which could also be the foundation for an iOS chatbot. Mark Gurman, a journalist at Bloomberg who closely follows Apple developments, indicates that Apple is probably even in talks with three companies. Finally, Anthropic, for example, is said to be in the race to offer the underlying LLM.

With negotiations underway on three different AI models, we may expect Apple to announce at least one collaboration during WWDC24. In any case, the company already seems to be taking enough time to adequately weigh all the pros and cons of partnering with OpenAI, Google, and Anthropic. OpenAI’s recent blunder with the Voice Chat functionality in ChatGPT, in which the robot assistant’s voice would be almost identical to actress Scarlett Johansson’s voice, may have an influence on this decision.

In-house development

Apple has not been eager to roll out AI developments in the past. The company blames that on challenges around privacy and security. Both conditions must be met before Apple can roll out AI. In that story, Bloomberg reports there are plans to address those challenges by running cloud-based AI functions on data centres equipped with Apple processors. That way, no third party is needed and the risk of user data collected by AI functions getting into the wrong hands is reduced.

Moreover, the information will also be inaccessible to Apple. Various sources shared details about this with The Information. Data would end up in a virtual ‘black box’. This is possible because the company retains control over both hardware and software. AI processes can, therefore, be executed faster than if this is done locally on the iPhone, and customers do not lose out in terms of security. Because of the black box, the data remains inaccessible to everyone, including the eyes of potential hackers.

Such challenges are remedied by issuing AI to the iPhone. That is known as the MM1 model, a multimodal model that can handle text and images. Little is known about the model’s role on iOS 18. At least light AI tasks should be handled on iPhone devices, while hardware-burdening tasks are sent to data centres.

Summaries and writing suggestions

Predictions for AI functionalities for iOS 18 already state that iPhone users should expect AI-driven summaries and search results.

Information regarding these functionalities is limited to that distributed by Gurman. ‘Smart recap,’ as the Apple reporter calls the feature, would provide short summaries to users regarding all missed notifications, websites, news articles, and documents. The Voice Memo app would also get an update, adding AI summaries. The app serves as a recorder and thus will soon automatically create summaries of these recordings.

Another interpretation of what should improve with AI is search results. That will take effect in Apple’s search engine, Safari and in Spotlight, which should help users find files, apps or other information on the device.

Finally, there appear to be features coming that will automatically further write an e-mail or message based on AI. For texts, the technology would also generate images based on what the user writes to spice up a message with personalized items.

On June 10, Apple will reveal the shape of iOS 18 and which AI features are coming to the operating system.

This text was updated on 30/05 to add new information regarding the processing of user data in data centres.