iOS 18 — all the new AI features coming to your iPhone

ios 18
(Image credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

When it comes to AI, Apple needs to play catch up, especially if the company intends on impressing people with new features coming to its iPhone 16 later this fall. Naturally AI, or Apple Intelligence, was a major talking point during the WWDC 2024 keynote speech — 

Obviously the pressure is on for Apple to make AI on the iPhone a success. These comes after the industry saw a surge in AI-powered features on board phones like the Google Pixel 8 and Samsung Galaxy S24. Apple can’t afford to sit back any longer, especially since many of these AI features in phones have proven to be helpful and practical to use.

While Google showed off even more impressive AI tools and features during Google I/O 2024 last month, Apple can’t afford to let Android 15 win out the AI wars against iOS 18. We’ll break down all the biggest iOS 18 AI features that are accompanying the latest update to the iPhone’s software.

Smarter Siri actions

Gif animation of new Siri with Apple Intelligence animation.

(Image credit: Apple)

Not surprising considering all the rumors around this topic, but a new AI-infused Siri is on the way. This new Siri is confirmed to be getting more natural language skills, and will be better able to hold a conversation and understand contextual clues. So if you stumble mid-sentence or ask follow-up questions, Siri will be able to remember what you were talking about and respond accordingly.

This Siri also features a brand new visual animation that switches the traditional circular icon with a glowing light bar around the edge of your phone.

Other features on the way include the Type to Siri, which does what the name suggests, and on-screen awareness that clues the AI in to what you might be talking about based on whatever's on screen. The new Siri will likewise be able to perform actions in specific apps on your behalf — saving you the hassle of doing it yourself.

Finally there's Siri's integration with ChatGPT. This is a totally opt-in feature and means Siri can detect when ChatGPT may be able to help with a particular query. It asks permission first, and means you can communicate with OpenAI's chatbot from your phone without making an account. This also includes being able to ask questions with images.

Genmoji

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Adding a bit of playful charm to messages, iOS 18 is set to offer AI-generated emojis called Genmoji. Even though there’s a healthy catalog of emoji to choose from with the iPhone keyboard, there are still times when you can’t find an emoji that best represents your feelings.

These AI-generated emojis can created by using a text-based prompt where users describe the emoji they want to create. While this isn’t technically new — many third party apps offer a feature similar to this through paid subscriptions — iOS 18 is offering this as a native feature this capability natively.

Smart replies

Although it remains to be seen if Apple’s ripping off Samsung and Google here, messaging in iOS 18 could introduce contextual quick reply options. This wasn't mentioned in the WWDC keynote, but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't be available in iOS 18.

Obviously, AI would analyze the conversation in message to provide users with relevant responses to choose from, but this again highlights the time-saving qualities of having AI in phones.

While convenient, we’re curious to see how iOS 18 generates these smart replies — when testing Samsung’s version, Galaxy AI Chat Assist, it was painfully obvious that someone else wrote the response.

Summarizing in Safari

Sometimes you just need a tl;dr summarization when it comes to those endless articles on a web page. iOS 18 is planning to offer such a function by tapping AI to summarize content in mobile Safari. That way, you’ll spend less time reading while being presented with the most important points about the article. This feature can also cut out distractions on the webpage to help convey that information.

If this AI-assisted summarizing feature may sound familiar already because the Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 do it with their respective summarizing features.

Smarter notification recaps

a list of notifications on an iphone screen

(Image credit: Future)

At one point or another, you’ve probably been inundated by a slew of notifications on your iPhone that you’ve yet to look over, but iOS 18 will help out in a big way with smarter recaps. 

Rather than being overwhelmed by all of those notifications just chilling in the Notification Center on your iPhone, this AI-assisted feature would highlight only the most important notifications that deserve your attention. With this feature, users can feel more confident and relaxed that they didn’t overlook an important notification.

AI photo editing

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Ask anyone who’s used the Pixel 8 Pro or Galaxy S24 Ultra, and they’ll probably tell you that the most impressive AI features center around photo editing. Apple’s undoubtedly going to be investing heavily in the AI photo editing features of iOS 18, and the first of those is called the "Clean up" tool — which looks like a similar feature to Google’s Magic Editor.

This allows anyone to quickly and easily edit their snapshots through the Photos app on iPhone. In addition to being able to remove unwanted objects in photographs, generative AI will then help to fill in any gaps. 

Apple is also set to offer something called Image Wand in the Notes app, which can take your rough sketches and create a cleaner image. It'll also be possible to create images from scratch, based on your prompts, with the help of ChatGPT.

Auto generated playlists in Apple Music

Apple Music logo in white on a red background

(Image credit: Apple Music)

Finding new music to listen to can be exhausting all on its own, which is exactly where AI could lend a hand by making it easier to find music that’s tailored to your tastes. In iOS 18, Apple Music is tipped to gain auto generated playlists. Why spend the time fetching new tracks to listen to when you can have AI do it all for you? Naturally, this feature would aggregate these playlists according to your preference.

Transcribing voice memos

An iPhone with a voice memo

(Image credit: Future)

And finally, another useful implementation of AI in iOS 18 is helping to transcribe voice memos recorded by an iPhone. As we’ve seen in other phones that use AI for voice recordings, this should bring much-needed features like the ability to distinguish multiple voices, summarize the entire recording, and even intelligently format the summarization complete with bold headings and bullet points.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.