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What iPhone owners need to know about ChatGPT-4o

You may have seen OpenAI’s recent ChatGPT update, offering an all-singing, all-dancing new intelligence model called GPT-4o. The new model improves ChatGPT’s voice commands and image input, leading to more seamless conversations – as shown off by some rather cringey demo videos that seem to echo Scarlett Johansson’s vocal stylings.

Ignoring that minor controversy, there are several exciting new capabilities for iPhone users to explore, including an improved feature set for users on the free tier. Let’s dive into how to get the most from ChatGPT in its most recent form.

Get the right app

First, be sure to download the official ChatGPT app. Beware of copycats and clones, which often look similar to the real deal but are crammed with ads and shady subscriptions. For the real deal, tap here or search the App Store for the app below with OpenAI listed as the developer.

More free stuff

One of the most significant updates is the rollout of more advanced tools to ChatGPT’s free users. This includes GPT-4 level intelligence, responses from the web, data analysis, photo-based discussions, file uploads, and more. Free users can now access custom GPTs from the GPT Store, which is a huge change.

While there will be a limit on the number of messages free users can send with GPT-4o, ChatGPT will switch to the older GPT-3.5 model when the limit is reached. Also, some of these changes are being added slowly, with paid users getting first access. If anything we mentioned isn’t available to you yet, hang tight. It’s coming.

Background chatter

Back-and-forth voice chat has been available in the ChatGPT app for a while – tap the Headphones button to kick off a session – but you can now continue a conversation with the app running in the background.

Return to the Home Screen or lock your device, and ChatGPT will continue to listen and respond, even if you lock your device or leave several minutes between queries.

This gives you the option of instant, easy access to ChatGPT throughout the day in an always-listening style similar to how other voice assistants operate. Unlike Siri and Alexa, there’s no wake word – just start talking. It’s our favorite feature.

When active, you’ll see the ChatGPT logo in the status bar, Dynamic Island, or as a Live Activity widget on the lock screen. You’ll also see an orange dot signifying the microphone is being used, and confirmation of just that in Control Center too. It’s hard to miss.

Even so, bear in mind the privacy and battery life implications of keeping this feature running indefinitely. By default, ChatGPT can use conversation logs from free users to improve its models, so be sure to check the privacy policy and settings if that concerns you.

To finish a conversation, you’ll have to reopen the app and tap the X button. There’s no way to end it from any of the widgets or with your voice.

Images and video

GPT-4o is now even better at understanding various media types, too. Snap a photo in the app and you can ask questions about its content. If there’s something specific you want to draw its attention to, use the built-in pen tool to circle it.

You can upload other things too, and ask ChatGPT to analyze them for you. It supports text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. It’s pretty good at summarizing, rewriting, comparing, giving feedback, and data analysis. You can even ask it to make charts based on what you’ve uploaded.

Stay tuned for more updates, too. In the near future, OpenAI will add the kind of real-time video chats it showed off in those creepy tech demos we mentioned earlier. Not long after that, perhaps a full “do my job for me” mode.