AI, especially generative AI, has been a growing area of interest in the tech world, and that includes within smartphones. With the Google Pixel 8 already promoting itself as a top-class AI experience in your pocket, and the rumored Samsung Galaxy S24 tipped to market its AI features hard when it launches next year, it seems natural that Apple's next phone will try and compete under similar terms.
There's still the best part of a year to go until the iPhone 16 series launches, but thanks to the generous crop of rumors already available for the phone, it's not hard to see ways Apple could be preparing to go all-in on AI. Take a look at our five biggest reasons below, and you'll see what we mean.
Siri upgrades and new microphone
First up, the recent rumor that Apple's working on adding a new microphone to the iPhone 16 series to help Siri understand your requests. Siri itself is allegedly getting upgrades of its own too, although those have yet to be revealed by the tipsters.
Apple apparently foresees its digital assistant as an iPhone user's primary way of interacting with its AI features, with the Siri and AI arms of Apple's staff supposedly all part of the same wider team. We hope you don't have to use the iPhone 16's AI solely via voice command but it's an encouraging sign of Apple's development.
Unique on-device functionality in iOS 18
Next summer we should see Apple's iOS 18 software appear. Rumors about specific features are currently quiet, except for the fact that those in the know believe AI's going to be a huge part of iOS 18's offering.
What's more, while iOS 18 will likely come to all recent iPhones, it's been tipped to offer more on-device processing for the iPhone 16, with older models instead having to rely on cloud processing instead. That would make the latest iPhone, unsurprisingly, the best way to experience whatever flavor of AI Apple adds in its next generation of iPhone interface.
Action button for all iPhones
The iPhone 16 should see the iPhone 15 Pro's Action button added to all iPhone 16 models. This customizable button has several pre-set functions to choose from, plus the option to run Shortcut automations.
We've observed that Apple's not really making full use of this button's potential right now, and the recently added live translation feature for the Action button has whet our appetite for other sophisticated AI-based functions. With the Action button apparently coming to all iPhone 16 models, perhaps we'll finally see it come into its own for quickly launching new AI functions.
Apple's AI development
Some news you may have missed is that Apple just launched its MLX AI framework to developers, giving them access to tools to help build AI features for Apple Silicon chips. This is designed for Macs, but some trickle-down towards the iPhone 16 feels inevitable.
While Apple's AI activities beyond MLX are a bit of a mystery, it's reportedly spending $1 billion a year on AI research, including an alleged AppleGPT chatbot. With such heavy investment, the company is all but bound to use the fruits of this research on the iPhone 16, the latest edition of its most popular product.
Performance upgrades across the phone
Running more powerful AI features requires a more powerful device, and fortunately we may see plenty of under-the-hood changes to the iPhone 16 that would help it out here.
Rumor has it that the new iPhones will benefit from bigger batteries, a stronger A18 (or A17 depending on who you believe) or A18 Pro chipset, and more RAM, and the same faster type of RAM across all models.
This should all help the iPhone 16 complete AI tasks on-device, Apple's preference over sending data to be processed on the cloud. But for any AI functions that take place in the cloud (perhaps via third-party apps), that'll be able to take advantage of the rumored Wi-Fi 7 compatibility, which would ensure the new iPhones are compatible with the latest, fastest internet routers.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.