Apple could bring AI to iPhones this summer - here’s what it means

Apple website displayed on a laptop screen and Apple logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on June 5, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Apple's WWDC happens in June this summer (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Apple is widely expected to unveil new AI features for the iPhone this year at its Worldwide Developers Conference on 10 June.

The features are likely to be ‘on device’ (i.e. they'll work without an internet connection), according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, meaning that Apple’s Large Language Model (similar to ChatGPT) won’t use cloud-based processing.

AI could be added to everything from Siri search to the Messages app. The new functions are expected to be part of Apple’s new iOS 18. Gurman suggests that there may also be cloud-based features powered by other AI chatbots (possibly Google’s Gemini).

Why is Apple adding AI to its phones?

Apple is lagging behind competitors such as Google and Samsung which have both added extra AI-powered features to their flagship smartphones this year.

Investors are closely watching for updates on artificial intelligence development at Apple, which has so far spoken little about incorporating AI technology into its devices.

Smartphone shipments for Apple - lost its crown as the world’s most valuable company to Microsoft in recent months - dropped about 10% in the first quarter of 2024, hurt by intensifying competition by Android smartphone makers (including Samsung) aiming for the top spot, according to data from research firm IDC.

Why does ‘local’ AI matter?

By keeping its own tools on-device, Apple will safeguard user privacy - Apple has historically kept many functions on the iPhone.

Doing local AI means user data never leaves the device, and is safer and more private - as well as being less vulnerable to weak internet connections.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on June 5, 2023. Apple on Monday is expected to show off pricy mixed-reality headgear at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, challenging Facebook-owner Meta in a market that has yet to sizzle. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last year. (Getty)

But Gurman’s report suggests that other AI tools on the device will be provided by another generative AI provider (possibly Google) and that these will be cloud-based.

What functions will the iPhone have?

Rumours suggest that Apple will add AI features to Siri, Safari, Apple Music, Messages, Pages and Keynote, as well as to its Spotlight search function.

Bloomberg’s Gurman previously suggested that AI would allow Siri to answer more complex queries, and auto-complete messages in the Messsages app.

Phones such as Google’s Pixel 8 and Samsung’s S24 have majored on AI features this year - and the features tend to be broadly similar.

Both the Pixel 8 and S24 offer AI-generated wallpaper, AI note-taking and summaries, AI picture-improving functions for photos.

Both phones also allow users to rapidly summarise webpages using AI.

When will this happen?

The new iOS 18 is expected to be unveiled at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10-14 this year.