Apple’s iOS 18 AI plans starting to take shape — here’s what to expect

iOS 18
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It's no secret that artificial intelligence figures to be a major focus for this year's iOS 18 update from Apple. And it pretty much has to be — with Galaxy AI features taking center stage on the new Galaxy S24 devices from Samsung and Google's Pixel phones emphasizing AI capabilities in recent years, Apple finds itself falling behind the competition.

But Apple hasn't exactly been standing still, at least based on the details coming out in a new Financial Times report that makes it seem even more likely that AI will be a big part of Apple's iOS 18 focus.

According to the report, Apple has been making small AI acquisitions, publishing research papers, and quietly hiring staff with AI experience in the past several months. Indeed, nearly half of Apple’s current job openings mention “deep learning,” according a Morgan Stanley research report reviewed by the FT.

All signs point to that culminating in an iOS 18 preview at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference this summer that will be a showcase for the AI capabilities of Apple's updated iPhone software. And those could include generative AI and an updated version of the Siri assistant that's powered by a large language model (LLM). Some Apple research papers have also suggested the company has developed technology that would allow AI to “see” what a person is looking at and identify the object, turning it into a powerful virtual assistant.

But the true focus of Apple's efforts appear to be running generative AI directly on the iPhone, rather than relying on servers running LLMs. That would bolster both privacy and processing speed. It may also require faster processors in the form of the A18 system-on-chip reportedly in development for all of this fall's iPhone 16 models.

It’s no surprise Apple is looking at the possibility of deeply embedding AI into its iPhone. Google and Samsung are the most prominent Apple rivals to highlight AI capabilities on their phones, but they surely won't be the only device makers making that push. Apple is also keenly aware that the future of tech will be solidly focused on AI and its opportunities to improve the user experience.

Last year, in fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company “has been doing research across a wide range of AI technologies,” and said it would continue to invest in the technology. 

Of course, Apple isn’t talking about its future AI plans. But this isn't the first time we've heard about the importance of AI to iOS 18. And it certainly doesn't seem like this new report will put an end to that chatter.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.