Why iOS 18 could be a game changer for the iPhone

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(Image credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

Even though iOS 18 won’t be available on our iPhones for another year, it already seems like a significant release from Apple.

Apart from the Apple Vision Pro headset, which signifies the company’s debut in the mixed-reality space, one could argue that iOS 18 will be the most noteworthy release from Cupertino in 2024.

This is due to rumors that iOS 18 would introduce generative AI to your iPhone, marking Apple’s first significant foray into artificial intelligence. In particular, iOS 18 may bring an Apple-created chatbot to the iPhone. Imagine it as a more sophisticated Siri that can handle our difficult jobs with straightforward voice instructions.

There are still few specifics on Apple’s intentions. Though internal work on iOS 18 is still in its early phases, the business remains silent on future goods. The earliest possible time to see a sneak peek of the software upgrade is probably in June of next year, during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where major software releases for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch are typically unveiled.

Nevertheless, excitement is growing for iOS 18, which might be unlike any software upgrade for the iPhone that we’ve seen in a while. Here’s the reason why, even before the software launches, news about iOS 18 is already spreading.

Even while the newest updates, such as iOS 17 and iOS 16, appear like big changes, the previous iterations of Apple’s iPhone software have only seen modest improvements.

All of iOS 17’s major updates, such as StandBy Mode, Live Voicemail, and Contact Posters, are actually merely improvements to pre-existing features and applications. Not even recent additions like the Journal app included in the iOS 17.2 release are revolutionizing the way you use your iPhone.

To do that, you would need to revert to the iOS 14 update from 2020, which allowed you to rearrange your phone’s apps into an App Library and add widgets to the home screen. There were new methods to interact with your iPhone thanks to this upgrade.

From the little leaks of iOS 18 that we have heard so far, it appears that Apple is aiming for a similar release with its next iOS iteration. Sure, your iPhone does include some AI-powered functions, but not quite as many as the initial speculations about iOS 18’s feature set suggest.

Consider Siri, a feature of the iPhone that dates back to iOS 5. Siri can now handle consecutive requests without requiring you to reactivate the virtual assistant on Apple’s most recent release. For instance, you could ask Siri to remind you that you have an appointment tomorrow and then instantly follow up with a query on the weather.

Now compare that to some of the rumors we’ve heard regarding the usage of AI in iOS 18. According to a report in The Information, Apple’s AI implementation will enable you to start multi-step processes with just your voice.

It’s much more difficult to ask Siri multiple questions at once than it is to use a straightforward voice command to make a group of recently taken images into a GIF and then send them to a contact, as demonstrated in the example provided in that article.

Apple playing AI catch-up

The belief that Apple’s AI efforts lag behind those of other tech companies is another reason for the increased interest in iOS 18 and its possible AI-powered features. This perception is not unjustified.

Microsoft partnered with OpenAI in 2023 alone to introduce the Copilot AI assistant to Windows 11 and integrate ChatGPT into Bing and Edge searches. Google introduced Bard, a generative AI chatbot, and intends to include it in Google Assistant.

Samsung, Apple’s largest smartphone rival, has highlighted its own artificial intelligence initiatives. Galaxy AI is expected to make its debut on the Galaxy S24 models in the upcoming year. The phone manufacturer promises “universal intelligence on your phone as you’ve never seen it before”. The S24 models are anticipated to have a variety of AI-powered camera and photo processing features, as well as the ability to compose emails, summarize documents, and translate content on-device.

What is Apple’s response to all of this, then? According to reports, the corporation plans to invest $1 billion a year in generative AI research and development. We may get to witness the results of such efforts for the first time with iOS 18.

iOS 18 pushing more iPhone upgrades

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iPhone 16 Pro concept design (Image credit: Science & Knowledge/YouTube)
Additionally, it’s important to keep an eye on iOS 18, since Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggests Apple may be depending on the software update to play a significant role in iPhone upgrades next year. According to Gurman, the iPhone 16 hardware “won’t have any major advances next year,” therefore one way Apple might pique interest in its newest phones could be to introduce AI features to the operating system.
In light of this, some rumors suggest that iPhone 16 models may be specially positioned for on-device AI-driven functionality. These AI functions might instead be cloud-based for older phones running iOS 18. Among other advantages, that would mean quicker AI performance for iPhone 16 models potent enough to handle on-device AI.
It is common for an iOS upgrade to limit some of its functionality to specific iPhone models. For instance, the latest iOS 17 upgrade requires an iPhone 12 or later to enable a new FaceTime feature that uses hand gestures to control on-screen effects. However, it is quite common for features to be exclusive to a single generation of iPhones, which appears to be the case with iOS 18’s on-device AI activities.

iOS 18 outlook

There’s still plenty of time before iOS 18’s anticipated sneak peek at WWDC in the summer of next year, so more specific information regarding Apple’s AI intentions may surface in the interim.
However, even at this early stage, it’s clear that iOS 18 won’t be your typical iPhone upgrade. And it makes sense that people are curious to see what new capabilities iOS 18 will provide.

Read more at News Intercept:

iOS 18 could be the most ‘ambitious and compelling’ iPhone update in years

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