Home Artificial Intelligence What we expect including iOS 18 updates, AI and more

What we expect including iOS 18 updates, AI and more

It’ll soon be Apple’s turn to talk about its next major operating system updates, giving developers a chance to get their apps ready ahead of a broad rollout this fall. The company’s Worldwide Developers Conference is right around the corner. Apple is sure to reveal some of the main features of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, as well as what’s ahead for the likes of watchOS, macOS and visionOS at WWDC 2024.

Given the current tech climate, though, it seems likely that Apple is about to follow its rivals by making a big leap into the realm of generative AI. That could be a major focus of the keynote, since those are the only two letters investors seem to give a hoot about hearing these days.

The Apple rumor mill never stops churning, so we’ve heard some bits and pieces about what WWDC will perhaps entail. It seems unlikely that we’ll get any major hardware announcements at the event, but you never truly know until Tim Cook wraps things up. After all, we did see the Apple Vision Pro make its first appearance at the last WWDC.

In any case, here’s what to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote:

WWDC 2024 starts on June 10 and runs through June 14. There will be a variety of events throughout the week, but the bulk of the attention will be on Apple’s keynote which is set for 1PM ET on June 10.

The keynote is where Apple tends to reveal many of the key features for the next major versions of its main operating systems: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and most likely visionOS. Apple has also used the WWDC keynote to unveil new hardware over the years, though we expect that to be less of a concern this time around.

As usual, you’ll be able to tune in to Apple’s presentation online. Apple used to restrict its streams to its own homepage and apps, but fortunately its grip has lessened over the years. You’ll be able to watch the keynote on apple.com, the Apple Developer app, the Apple TV app and Apple’s YouTube channel.

FILE - OpenAI's ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023. The rate of businesses in the U.S. using AI is still relatively small but growing rapidly, with firms in information technology and professional services, and in locations like Colorado and the District of Columbia, leading the way, according to a new paper from U.S. Census Bureau researchers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)FILE - OpenAI's ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023. The rate of businesses in the U.S. using AI is still relatively small but growing rapidly, with firms in information technology and professional services, and in locations like Colorado and the District of Columbia, leading the way, according to a new paper from U.S. Census Bureau researchers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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Even though Apple has largely shied away from uttering “AI” too often during its events, there’s no getting away from the big tech buzzword of the last two years. Generative AI is quickly seeping into more aspects of our lives and Apple seems primed to grab a piece of that pie.

It’s believed that Apple doesn’t yet have its own AI chatbot that’s ready for primetime. While it continues to beaver away on that, the company has reportedly reached a deal with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT into iOS 18. According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple is still interested in reaching an agreement with Google to offer that company’s Gemini AI assistant on iPhones too, but that may not happen until further down the line.

Siri, meanwhile, is expected to get an upgrade across compatible devices using Apple’s own large language models. Reports also suggest that you’ll be able to use the voice assistant to carry out many more specific functions in certain apps (like opening documents and sending emails), but it’s believed that Apple won’t roll out this Siri upgrade until early 2025.

Apple’s approach to generative AI in both iOS 18 and macOS 15 is said to be a practical one that’s based on helping regular folk in their everyday lives rather than letting them, say, quickly generate long reams of text they can sell as ebooks for a quick buck. Instead, you’re more likely to see GAI features like suggested email and message replies, TL;DR text summaries, voice memo transcriptions (finally!) and improved photo touchup tools in core apps.

Apple is expected to handle as much of the AI processing on-device as it can, with the remainder being sent to data centers. That raises questions about how Apple will ensure user privacy, one of the company’s core tenets. It will have to spell out how it’s keeping user information secure as it moves between the device and a data center.

iPhone 15 reviewiPhone 15 review

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

As ever, new features are coming to a swathe of iOS and iPadOS apps. Arguably the most notable is the expected introduction of RCS to Messages.

GMSA’s RCS, or Rich Communications Service, is a more advanced messaging protocol than the three-decade-old SMS. RCS is more secure than old-school SMS, since it offers end-to-end encryption. It allows for improved media sharing, with high-resolution images, video and audio clips. RCS allows for proper group chats and it supports Wi-Fi messaging too.

And yet for years, Apple refused to bring RCS to its platform — something Google had long been needling it to do — to keep iMessage more of a walled garden. Of course, iMessage itself has many of the same features as RCS. At one point, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s response to someone who asked for improved Android texting compatibility so they could share videos with their mother was to “buy your mom an iPhone.”

Apple eventually relented on its RCS stance last year, possibly to ensure it complies with strict EU regulations. The company said it would enable RCS support in 2024, so it makes sense that this feature would debut in iOS 18. That means messaging between iOS and Android should be much better in the near future (even if texts from Android devices will still appear as green bubbles on an iPhone). Meanwhile, Google just started allowing Android users to edit RCS messages within a 15-minute window of sending them.

Gurman also noted that Apple is likely to support custom emoji generation based on what you’re writing in text messages. It seems that you’ll also be able to change the colors of app icons on your home screen and no longer have to keep apps locked to a rigid grid system.

Apple Music may gain an auto-generated playlist feature, following an OpenAI-powered tool that Spotify rolled out in 2023. Custom routes and topographic maps (which debuted on Apple Watch last year) are said to be on the way to Apple Maps. In addition, Apple is rumored to be adding a voice-recording tool to Notes, which would dovetail nicely with the expected transcription function, as well as the option to display mathematical notation.

Other core apps are reportedly in line for some changes, such as generative AI functions in productivity apps like Keynote and Pages. Others like Mail, Fitness and Health are also expected to get new features, but the details haven’t been leaked as yet.

This long-expected update deserves its own section. That’s right, the Calculator app is said to be getting a major overhaul on iPhone and Mac. Snarkiness aside, the revamp actually sounds like it’ll be useful, with Notes app integration, improved unit conversions and a sidebar listing recent activity. The app is also said to be coming to iPadOS.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inchApple MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch

Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Let’s take a wild guess out of the gate here and declare that Apple will name the next version of macOS after a notable location in California. In all seriousness, that would be the least shocking thing Apple could possibly do on the keynote stage.

Many of the iOS app updates are expected to be replicated in macOS 15, such as the Apple Music, Notes and productivity changes. Rumors suggest that Apple is reorganizing the System Settings app based on importance and priority of the various categories, so the General tab is likely to be bumped up while Sound and Notifications are expected to drop down the list.

Elsewhere, Siri’s menu bar icon may get a new look with a flat monochrome design expected to supplant the current colorful version. There may be some welcome accessibility upgrades too, such as a Shortcuts option that allows users to trigger a certain setting or action using a custom spoken phrase.

Apple’s 13-inch iPad Pro, first released in 2024.Apple’s 13-inch iPad Pro, first released in 2024.

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Last year’s WWDC was a hardware bonanza, with Apple finally announcing the Vision Pro along with the 15-inch MacBook Air and the M2 Ultra-powered Mac Pro and Mac Studio. We’re not expecting much from Apple on the hardware front this time around, though.

The company just updated its iPad lineup and it’s likely a little too early for any new laptops given the MacBook Pro and iMac updates in October and MacBook Air refreshes in March. Of course, iPhones will remain under wraps until September, as will the next Apple Watches. However, Apple may take the opportunity to slot its M3 or even M4 chips into its other desktop systems, many of which remain mired in the M2 generation.

We could see some refreshed peripherals and other devices too. There’s always the possibility that Apple will unveil an (official) version of the AirPods Max with a USB-C charging port.

Back in January 2023, Gurman reported that a new Apple TV box would arrive in the first half of 2024. There’s still just enough time for that to happen. There’s a possibility that Apple may add a camera to the Apple TV as well. In that case, there’d be no need to use an iPhone or iPad for FaceTime chats on the biggest screen in your home.

Apple Vision ProApple Vision Pro

Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

One thing we are expecting on the hardware side is for Apple to reveal where the Vision Pro is going next. Until now, the headset has only been available in the US. That’s probably going to change in the coming weeks and months. Multiple reports have suggested that the next phase of the rollout will include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the UK. However, there hasn’t been much in terms of visionOS 2 leaks so far, so it’s unclear what kind of updates the mixed reality operating system will get.

The rumor mill has been quiet about watchOS updates too. There will surely be some notable changes to Apple’s wearable operating system, but we could be in for a relatively minor iteration of watchOS after last year’s massive overhaul.

It’s rare that tvOS gets much love during an Apple keynote, but it’s bound to get an update that we’ll learn about at some point during WWDC. You might have to wait until the Platforms State of the Union event at 4PM ET for the scoop. The same goes for CarPlay and HomePod.

Bear in mind, none of this is certain until the likes of Cook, Craig Federighi et al hit the WWDC keynote stage and start discussing what’s next for Apple’s products and services. But based on the reporting of several Apple-focused journalists with a strong track record of getting things right, we do expect to hear about many of the above updates and announcements.

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