iPhone 16 AI features: All the biggest rumors so far

Siri
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Ever since ChatGPT burst onto the scene last year, companies have been tripping over themselves to add AI to their products in a way that makes the virtual assistants traditionally found in smart speakers look like dunces by comparison.

Apple has been a little slow out of the traps on this, but behind the scenes, the wheels are in motion to help the iPhone 16 unleash the full power of artificial intelligence. 

Indeed, there’s reportedly an “edict” at Apple to ensure that iOS 18 is packed “with features running on the company’s large language model”, and just this week Tim Cook told shareholders that the company will “break new ground in generative AI” later this year. 

What will that look like in practice? Here’s what we’ve heard so far.

iPhone 16 AI features: What we’re expecting

iPhone 15 Pro Max Dynamic Island

(Image credit: Future)

The most obvious improvement for Apple’s artificial intelligence is an upgrade to Siri. The virtual assistant has always felt a touch behind Google Assistant and Alexa in the smarts stakes, but powered by large language models, Siri 2.0 could be a huge leap forward.

Back in January, the iOS 17.4 beta revealed references to a private framework called “SiriSummarization” that makes calls to the ChatGPT API. While the link to ChatGPT seems to be for sense-checking purposes (Apple testing its own model against the competition, in other words), the functionality feels similar: the code suggests you can use phrases like “please summarize”, “please answer this question” and “please summarize the given text.”

The same code dive also revealed inputs relating to iMessage, suggesting integration with the Messages app. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has previously suggested that Apple’s AI will work with Messages to “field questions and auto-complete sentences” so that’s not a huge surprise. It might also end up baked into AppleCare for iPhone support, too. 

Another interesting AI benefit to the average iPhone user could well be an indirect one. Apple is reportedly close to releasing a generative AI tool for developers to make it easier to build apps for the iPhone, according to Gurman. The same report mentions a couple of other more accessible features, though: Apple Music playlists could be automatically created with AI, for example, and there’s talk of similar automation for slides in the Keynote software.

One area where Google and Samsung have excelled on their smartphones is AI image editing, with Magic Editor and Generative Edit respectively, so it seems inevitable that Apple is thinking along similar lines. On that score, the company recently partnered with UC Santa Barbara researchers to develop an AI model that can edit images based on user instructions. Hopefuly this is a taste of what’s to come in a future iPhone.

Of course, some of these possible AI features may not be exclusive to iPhone 16 if they come as part of iOS 18, given Apple’s historical commitment to backward compatibility with software updates. 

But the iPhone 16 will still be at an advantage thanks to its upcoming A18 processor, which reportedly has an upgraded Neural Engine for improved machine learning and AI tasks. In other words, while the iPhone 16 might perform exclusive AI tasks on device, older handsets may instead be reliant on an internet connection to Apple’s cloud servers.

Whether this is enough to push people to upgrading to the iPhone 16 in September is another matter of course. We expect to hear more about Apple’s AI plans at WWDC 2024, so everything should become a lot clearer then. Since 2007, it’s always fallen in June, so not too long to wait.

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.