From iOS 18 to Siri Upgrades, New AI Features to Expect on the iPhone

At WWDC, we're expecting to learn more about Apple's AI plans for the iPhone.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
6 min read
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Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference is coming up on June 10, and we're expecting to learn about how Apple could bring generative AI to the iPhone.

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Generative AI, or AI models trained on large volumes of data that create content in response to prompts, has exploded in popularity following the success of ChatGPT. Tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Amazon, among many others, have introduced gen AI into their biggest products over the past year. Apple, however, has been quiet about its plans for gen AI, although CEO Tim Cook teased updates for 2024. 

"But we've got some things that we are incredibly excited about that we'll be talking about later this year," Cook said in response to a question about gen AI on an earnings call

Between Cook's comments, new research papers and the acquisition of AI startups, Apple is clearly on to something. Here's what Apple's AI plans for the iPhone might look like based on reports that have circulated in recent months. 

Read more: Why the iPhone's Home Screen Is in Need of a Shakeup

iOS 18 will likely be full of AI features


Apple's expected iOS 18 update will likely bring a bunch of new AI features, according to reports. 

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Apple's next major iPhone operating system, which will probably be called iOS 18, is expected to introduce a ton of new AI features to the iPhone. It could be the most significant update since the original iPhone in Apple's eyes, according to Bloomberg

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, has been tasked with implementing a bunch of new tools into iOS fueled by the company's large language model, Bloomberg reports

New AI features coming to the iPhone could include providing summaries of news stories and notifications, voice memo transcriptions, photo editing tools and improvements to app recommendations and the way events automatically appear on your calendar, according to a separate Bloomberg report

AI will also be implemented into a variety of Apple apps including Safari, Photos and Notes as part of an initiative the company is calling Project Greymatter, Bloomberg also reports. Both Safari and Spotlight search are expected to get an AI-powered boost, and suggested replies to emails and texts will also be part of upcoming updates, the report says. 

These features generally sound similar to what we've seen from Google and Samsung so far. But one highlight could be the ability to automatically generate unique emojis based on text messages, reports Bloomberg. 

The company is planning to deliver a mix of features that are processed on-device and in the cloud, the report says. Simpler features will be executed on-device, while more complex ones will require extra power from the cloud. On-device AI is generally considered to be more secure and private since data doesn't have to leave your device but typically requires more powerful processors. That's why Siri is only capable of answering health-related questions on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, which run on the company's newest smartwatch chips.

Watch this: Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal

It's also possible that Apple will wait until September to announce new AI features alongside its next-generation iPhone, expected to be called the iPhone 16. That's what Bernstein analysts Toni Sacconaghi and Daniel Zhu predict, according to a research note reported by the financial news website Seeking Alpha

"We expect most AI features to be unveiled with the iPhone in September, as opposed to at WWDC, consistent with other key software features like Dynamic Island, Siri and FaceTime, all of which were introduced at the time of phone launch," the note said, per Seeking Alpha. "We see the timeline for AI features such as a multimodal Siri and an AI wellness coach as less clear."

Samsung and Google have already provided a glimpse into how generative AI is changing smartphones. Both companies offer features that can rewrite text messages in a different tone before hitting the send button and photo editing tools that can refill blank spaces in a photo after moving an object. During its I/O developers conference in May, Google also showcased how its Gemini AI assistant is playing a bigger role in Android phones. It's possible Apple could take a similar approach, although we won't know for sure until iOS 18 arrives. 

Apple may be partnering with OpenAI

Open AI logo on a purple background

Apple may announce a partnership with OpenAI, according to Bloomberg. 

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Apple is said to be working with OpenAI to integrate the ChatGPT-maker's tech into iOS 18, Bloomberg reported. It's unclear exactly how OpenAI's tech would appear in iOS, but Bloomberg said the deal could result in an AI-powered chatbot arriving on the iPhone. The two companies are reportedly planning to announce the collaboration at WWDC. A more recent report from Bloomberg reiterates that Apple and OpenAI may have an announcement planned for the iPhone-maker's upcoming developer conference. 

Apple has also held similar talks with Google regarding its Gemini AI system, according to reports from BloombergThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, although Bloomberg's more recent report says those discussions haven't resulted in a partnership. 

Based on those earlier reports, it sounds like Apple is focusing its efforts on new AI models designed to run locally, while seeking a partner for cloud-based AI. That wouldn't come as too much of a surprise; Apple prides itself on creating new features and technologies that take full advantage of how hardware and software work together. It's much easier to do that when you don't have to rely on a third-party for data processing. But Bloomberg has since reported that Apple's AI cloud features will be carried out in data centers running on its own processors. 

It also wouldn't be the first time Apple has partnered with another company on certain technologies and components. Google already pays Apple billions of dollars to be the default search engine on iPhones, for example, and Qualcomm supplies Apple with 5G modems for the iPhone. 

Read more: Dreaming Big: Our Experts iOS 18 Wish List for Apple's WWDC 2024

A smarter Siri

Siri on iOS 17

Siri may get a performance boost. 

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Siri seems like a natural area for Apple to apply any AI advancements, and reports from The Information and Bloomberg suggest it may do just that. The Information reported last year that Apple has doubled down on efforts to make Siri better at automating tasks. The report cites the ability to ask Siri to create GIFs from your last five photos and then share it as an example of the types of use cases Apple has in mind. A newer Bloomberg report also suggests Siri will sound more natural, thanks to Apple's large language models.

We won't know what Apple's plans are until it announces them. But automation features like those mentioned above would feel like a fitting evolution for Siri that builds on its existing Shortcuts functionality.

Watch this: If Apple Makes Siri Like ChatGPT or Gemini, I'm Done

An AI App Store


The logo for the iPhone's App Store.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple may launch a new AI App Store, according to Ben Reitzes, head of technology research at Melius Research, who spoke with CNBC

"In June we should start to see them lay the groundwork for this new app store, for how it's going to work with AI, how you can buy AI apps through the App Store, " he said during the CNBC interview.

Read more: Best iPhone to Buy in 2024

There are a lot of unanswered questions, such as whether this supposed AI app store would be for the iPhone, the Mac or all of Apple's products. It's also unclear if Reitzes is referring to a separate App Store entirely, or a new section in the current App Store focused on AI apps. The latter seems more in line with Apple's usual approach. Either way, emphasizing AI in the App Store would be a testament to the technology's importance from Apple's perspective. 

A new chip with more AI processing power

a17 on iphone 15 pro

Apple's A17 Pro chip, which powers the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

Apple/Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

Apple's next iPhone processor, presumably called the A18, is expected to offer better AI performance for the iPhone 16 lineup, according to Taiwanese news outlet Economic Daily News and analyst Jeff Pu, as MacRumors reported. AI has been a big area of focus for years, with Apple increasingly expanding the capabilities of the neural engine inside its A-series chips. But given that Apple is expected to develop new AI-powered iPhone features that rely on local processing, it wouldn't be surprising to see more significant upgrades.

Apple isn't usually first to market with new product categories. Instead, it's known for popularizing technologies, as it did with smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Regardless of Apple's approach, all eyes will be on the company to do the same with AI and generative AI.

Editors' note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you're reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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