5 apps that should be really worried ahead of WWDC

Tim Cook on stage at WWDC 2023
(Image credit: Apple)

Next week’s WWDC 2024 event will generate a lot of excitement, but, for many third-party software creators, the developers' conference may come with an air of trepidation. 

In recent weeks, rumors of the kind of software updates Apple has waiting in the wings have emerged, and some of them potentially spell trouble for third-party rivals, possibly encroaching on features that they already offer with a little help from artificial intelligence.  

Here are some apps that should be worried by Apple’s possible AI moves — and why.

 Google Photos 

Google Photos icon on phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Back in April, Google caused a bit of a splash by announcing that Google Photos would be getting AI tools on more compatible devices, including the iPhone. Most of these are free, though Magic Editor only allows 10 saves per month — if you want more, then you’ll need to subscribe to the 2TB Google One plan, which will set you back at least $100 a year. 

But no sooner is such AI trickery rolled out to iPhones than Apple may reveal its own alternative in iOS 18. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is planning on rolling out its own generative AI for images. The well-connected reporter says it offers a ‘Clean Up’ feature that will automagically remove unwanted objects from images, just like Magic Eraser.

Obviously that won’t necessarily stop iPhone users from using Google Photos, but it perhaps means that iCloud Photos will look like a more appealing place to store images going forward, and could help push Apple One subscriptions. 

 Spotify 

Apple Music and Spotify logos on two iPhones

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Despite the strength of Apple Music, Spotify has doggedly clung on in the popularity stakes, as the original music streaming solution. Plenty of people with Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches still prefer the little green app to Apple’s alternative.

One of the reasons for that is Spotify’s excellent playlist creation and discovery tools, but with iOS 18, there’s talk of Apple leveraging AI to bring automatic playlist generation based on your past listening habits.   

With Apple Music also set to introduce smart transitions and a mysterious new feature called “Passthrough”, Spotify certainly shouldn’t be resting on its laurels — especially with its lossless HiFi tier still MIA, three years after it was promised

Evernote

Evernote app icon

(Image credit: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock)

Evernote is one of the best note taking apps around, and it has a very loyal following as a result. However, the basic plan has a limit of 60MB of uploads to sync between devices, making a paid account essential for all but very casual users.

Apple’s Notes, meanwhile, has historically been a simple, no-frills solution that does the basics very well. But according to Gurman again, it could be getting a huge upgrade with iOS 18. 

Generative features are coming here too, and while it’s not clear if this will apply to text or images, if it’s implemented well, it could make Notes a far more compelling proposition — especially without any subscription charges.

Otter

Screenshot of Otter app running on an Android phone.

(Image credit: Otter)

Speaking of the Notes app, its imminent AI upgrade could cause problems for another piece of subscription-based software: Otter.

If you’re unfamiliar, Otter can automatically transcribe audio recordings (or even meetings in real time) saving you hours of listening back to old recordings. It’s not infallible, but it’s pretty good and a real timesaver.

With iOS 18, both Notes and Voice Memos are rumored to be getting AI transcription. Obviously, these kinds of auto-transcription apps live and die by their accuracy, but given Otter’s free offering has some tough restrictions, something built into every iPhone could be a game changer for those who spend several hours a day transcribing. 

 Every iPad calculator app 

iPad 10th generation in the hands browsing the iPad OS home screen

(Image credit: Future)

Over 14 years of iPads, Apple has yet to include a Calculator app — which is odd, because the iPhone has had one from the get-go. 

That is reportedly set to change with iPadOS 18. A Calculator app is coming to all models that can make the upgrade, and will apparently resemble the iPhone version, complete with round buttons.

That’s potentially bad news for the likes of PCalc, Calculator84 and Calzy, which have all filled the gap in the absence of first-party software.

 The waiting game 

To be clear, we’re not saying that Apple’s imminent software upgrades are definitely going to make these apps redundant. Not only do we not know how good Apple’s implementation of these hypothetical features will be, but some of these apps have big, loyal followings who won’t switch easily.

What we are saying is that Apple has a huge advantage with its first-party apps, installing them on every iPhone and iPad sold, and able to integrate the experience with the operating system in a way that third-party developers simply can’t. For that reason, app makers working in the same areas as Apple should beware of complacency.

We’ll find out how threatened these app makers should feel next week. Here’s how to watch WWDC 2024 if you want to see it all unfold in real time. 

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.