Skip to content

How will Apple implement AI into iOS?

WWDC24 is right around the corner, with all signs pointing to Apple finally embracing artificial intelligence (AI) this year. But what could that mean, and how might Apple’s core sensibilities affect its implementation?

There are countless articles floating around the internet at the moment, dedicated to those exact questions. We read through them all so you don’t have to, and here are some key takeaways to consider ahead of iOS 18’s arrival later this year.

Apple’s approach to AI will be opt-in: with AI – especially morally gray generative AI – continuing to be a controversial topic with many people, it seems Apple will leave it disabled by default in iOS 18. That means users wary of the privacy implications, or who are simply creeped out by the concept of AI, can steer well clear. Others will be able to opt in to whichever features they like.

iPhone is likely to use on-device AI: in a similar vein, it has been reported that Apple will keep as much processing as possible on device, rather than “in the cloud.” That’s a boon to privacy, although it has its limitations: for one, it’s expected that Apple would use cloud processing as a backup.

AI for iPhone 15 Pro and later: those on-device constraints also limit which devices can handle these AI features, as older processing chips may struggle to keep up. In fact, it’s been reported that users will need an iPhone 15 Pro or newer to access the full power of AI in iOS 18. That gives Apple a strong reason to upsell customers to newer devices.

Siri, Search, and Text will all benefit: it looks as though Apple will bake AI deep into iOS to expand and improve upon existing features. It’s clear that Siri could become much smarter and more conversational, but we might also see better search results and instant text summaries for all kinds of things across the board.

Messages could add generative emoji: according to Bloomberg, Apple is considering adding a feature to the messages app to allow users to create custom, super-relevant emoji “on the fly” based on the current conversation. Something similar exists already with the app Newji, although its AI-generated emoji can be extremely hit and miss. We’d expect Apple to only commit to a feature like this if it felt it could really nail it.

Copilot inspired Apple to embrace AI: it’s no secret that Apple has been slow to hop on the AI train. Part of that is due to its history of taking time to perfect new features rather than jumping in first. According to the WSJ, another factor of Apple’s changing attitude is that exec Craig Federighi toyed around with the AI coding smarts in Github’s Copilot software over a Christmas break and was impressed by its potential.