All the AI features headed for iPhone, Mac and iPad [Updated]


An iPhone with the words
New artificial intelligence features are coming to many of the standard iPhone and Mac applications.
Photo: Andrea De Santis/Unsplash License/Modified by Cult of Mac

New artificial intelligence features are likely to make iOS 18, macOS 15 and iPadOS 18 the biggest upgrades to Apple’s platforms in many years. Leaks say AI enhancements are coming to most of Apple’s standard apps, helping users write, summarize information, clean up images and more. At their announcement coming at next week’s WWDC24, these will all come under the heading of “Apple Intelligence.”

Plus, Siri reportedly will get a significant intelligence upgrade.

Apple AI features: What to expect

While Microsoft, Google and Samsung rushed artificial intelligence products to users in recent months, Apple seems behind the curve. But that’s expected to change soon. Apple CEO Tim Cook strongly hinted recently that new features in all the company’s operating systems will heavily focus on AI.

“We believe in the transformative power and promise of AI,” said Cook in early May. “And we believe we have advantages that will differentiate us in this new era, including Apple’s unique combination of seamless hardware, software and services integration, groundbreaking Apple silicon, with our industry-leading neural engines, and our unwavering focus on privacy, which underpins everything we create.”

Table of contents

Apple Intelligence (mostly) runs on the device

Artificial intelligence requires demanding software. It needs a fast processor and significant storage. Nevertheless, many iOS, macOS and iPadOS AI features reportedly will run directly on users’ devices.

This will allow user interactions to be faster but also more private — Apple frequently touts its commitment to privacy. In contrast, ChatGPT, Google Gemini and other rival generative AI systems run on remote servers where there’s no realistic hope of privacy.

Technology for making AI systems more efficient, acquired along with DarwinAI earlier in 2024, should make this easier. However, tasks that are beyond an iPhone or Mac supposedly will depend on data centers with servers running on Apple’s own processors. Still, the company will reportedly take pains to protect user privacy, and won’t use AI to build profiles of users.

Those nervous about AI won’t have to use it because Apple Intelligence will be optional. But it also won’t be available to all users — these advanced features will reportedly require an iPhone 15 Pro or an upcoming iPhone 16 series handset. For Mac or iPad, an M1 processor or better is necessary.

Safari ‘Intelligent Search’

Some of the AI changes to Apple’s Safari web browser seem indicative of what can be expected all across iOS 18, macOS 15 and iPadOS 18 when they arrive later this year. The browser reportedly will get “Intelligent Search,” an option to summarize the contents of a web page so the reader can quickly get the gist.

A more controversial feature is Safari’s “Web Eraser.”

“Apple is preparing to include an AI-based privacy feature in the Safari browser in the next iOS 18 software update that will remove ads or other unwanted website content,” according to Financial Times. However, a later report indicates the plan has been dropped after significant pushback from online advertisers.

Apple Photos ‘Clean Up’

An AI-powered “Clean Up” feature reportedly coming to the Apple Photos application could let users eliminate unwanted objects from images.

In addition, Apple researchers created a system that allows users to alter images with spoken or written commands. Another team of researchers built a system to turn an image into a video based on user instructions. Either AI feature might be incorporated into iOS 18 and macOS 15.

AI enhancements in other Apple apps

Apple Notes can already correct spelling and some grammar mistakes. The upcoming version of the app is expected to use artificial intelligence to become better at both things. In addition, it could recommend complete rewording of what the user wrote to make communication clearer.

It’s Apple Mail will reportedly be able to summarize emails, a standard AI feature in rival apps. The Messages app also should be able to summarize a chaotic sequence of text messages.

As a fun feature, generative AI might allow users to create their own custom emojis.

Making Siri smarter

Siri with AI artificial intelligence
Siri supposedly will start showing some signs of intelligence.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Nadezhda Moryak

When Apple launched Siri back in 2011, the voice-driven assistant showed real potential. But new AI systems based on large-language models leave Siri in the dust.

This fact has not escaped Apple’s attention, fortunately. Unconfirmed reports indicate Apple and OpenAI made a deal that will build some version of GPT into iOS and macOS. This could be GPT-4o, a new version of the company’s artificial intelligence chatbot that’s a real step forward in natural-language communication. Apple also supposedly talked with Google about licensing Gemini. That could provide the artificial intelligence behind Siri’s upcoming upgrade instead.

Whoever provides the tech, Siri reportedly will deliver “proactive intelligence” — the ability to summarize notifications coming in from the user’s iPhone. It should be able to summarize news articles, too.

The voice assistant will be upgraded so it can control individual apps. This will enable, for example, opening a specific document or sending or deleting an email with a spoken command.

Given Apple’s desire to keep AI functions running on users’ iPhones or Macs as much as possible, the plan might be for an on-device AI system to handle basic Siri commands. More complex requests could go to data centers. Apple is building software to determine when to use which option.

We’ll know more about Apple AI at WWDC24

How else will Apple inject AI into its operating systems and apps? We’ll find out in just a few days at WWDC24. Apple’s annual developer conference kicks off June 10. And the new AI capabilities of iOS 18 and macOS 15 will surely be high on Apple’s agenda.

Don’t miss our roundup of everything expected at WWD24.

Non-AI features in iOS 18 and macOS 15

Not every change in iOS 18 and Apple’s other operating systems is related to artificial intelligence. There will reportedly be new Home Screen personalization options, and Settings is getting its first significant redesign in many years. The Messages app will supposedly be able to animate individual words in a message.

This article was originally published May 21. It has been updated with fresh leaks on Apple AI plans.


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