iOS 18 has me excited for AI in a way I never expected

WWDC 2024
(Image credit: Apple)

AI is all over the tech industry right now, and at WWDC 2024, Apple has given us our first meaningful glimpse at how it'll work its way into everyday life.

At least, that's how it feels when you see how subtle and ubiquitous AI-like features are in iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia

When these operating systems arrive in the fall of 2024, they'll deliver a slew of upgrades, many of which have nothing to do with AI, but those aren't what have caught my attention at WWDC here in Cupertino.

I think Apple Intelligence is easily the most interesting thing the company has introduced in ages, and it could be what takes AI adoption to a new level. 

I've been tinkering with AI tools since Microsoft unveiled Bing with ChatGPT, and it's been unsettling to see how quickly we've gone from basic chatbots to using AI to create Super Bowl ads. But it always felt like a niche category of things you could do with your PC if you were really motivated to learn how — until now.

Now I think AI is about to become mainstream in a way I didn't expect. Apple hasn't been as fast or as vocal as its competitors when it comes to embracing AI, but the way it's subtly working AI features into everything from Messages to Photos to Siri is going to make AI commonplace in a way I never expected.

AI is about to go mainstream

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

We won't know for sure how well any of Apple's new AI features work in the wild until the final version of iOS 18 and its sibling software arrive late this year. But based on the demos I've seen at Apple, I'm uncomfortably excited about how they'll change my iPhone experience.

In short, I think they're going to make it a lot more fun. 

I think my friends and family are going to go wild with Genmoji, and I think my parents are going to be a lot happier asking their phones to do things if iOS 18 Siri really does work as well as it does here at Apple HQ. 

I bet my dad's going to have a ball asking the Photos app to generate custom Memories (like in the screenshot above), and that's probably going to be his first introduction to anything approaching an AI feature.

Which makes me wonder how many more people are about to have AI features enter their life in a big but subtle way. Asking Copilot to create cover art for your next solo album feels like using AI in a way that generating custom Genmoji doesn't, and I think we're about to see a sea change in public sentiment around AI.

Because I've been testing and using a lot of the most popular "AI" tools from Google and Microsoft for a year now, and I've never felt as excited about either as I do about creating dumb Genmoji for my friends. 

I get a sinking feeling in my stomach every time I stop to think about the privacy and security implications of the tech industry's ongoing AI craze, and in a way, I have to give Apple credit for offsetting that feeling a bit. 

If the company manages to deliver on its promises with iOS 18 and serve up a suite of AI-like features that work well, I think it could fundamentally change the way we use iPhones. I see real value in having features like iOS 18's audio transcription in the Notes app, because it will make my day-to-day life easier, and maybe that's worth trusting my data to Apple Intelligence.

That's not something I would have said before WWDC 2024, but Apple has been showing off features that make sense and saying the right things when it comes to privacy. 

Unfortunately, many of the most exciting Apple Intelligence features on iOS 18 won't be available until later this year, so we'll have to wait to see how well they work in the real world.

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.