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iOS 18 coming soon with artificial intelligence, new interface and accessibility: what to expect at WWDC 2024

iPhone in a crystal ball

Apple is just a few months away from showing off its iOS 18 update, which will arrive in the fall. According to rumors, this is exactly what will happen in the next version of the iPhone operating system.

WWDC, Apple's annual developer meeting, which runs from June 10 to 14, will be where the tech giant will showcase some of its plans for the future. Announcements during the keynote and throughout the week typically cover a variety of areas, but the main focus is on changes to the operating system.

With the iPhone being the company's main source of revenue, Apple's changes to iOS are being closely watched by developers and industry observers. The next version, destined to be called iOS 18 unless Apple makes major changes to its naming system, will be just as important.

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After many rumors and reports that Apple itself is working on artificial intelligence, iOS 18 may face serious scrutiny in an industry that is increasingly embracing generative artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The following is a selection of rumors surrounding iOS 18, which should give an idea of ​​what to expect from Apple this summer.

Boosting Siri AI

With the advent of ChatGPT, Google Gemini and other LLM programs in B It's clear to the tech industry that quite a lot of Apple rumors revolve around artificial intelligence. This includes how it may affect iOS 18.

Considering that Apple's SVP of Marketing Greg Joswiak has pushed quite hard on social media that AI will be unveiled at WWDC, and that CEO Tim Cook has said that more news about AI will come in 2024. It's fair to say that iOS 18 will include some of these in its fall release.

Siri changes in iOS 18 may be demonstrated at WWDC.

In February, a report claimed that the A18 chip, intended to upgrade the 2024 iPhone, would use a Neural Engine with more cores, allowing it to handle machine learning tasks more easily.

Although AI competitors have released chatbots, don't expect an Apple chatbot to appear anytime soon. Instead, Apple's changes will be functional, as well as a major update to its Siri smart assistant.

A January mix of job announcements, artificial intelligence investments and research papers shows Apple is poised to make big changes to Siri. This includes 21 acquisitions and investments in the area since 2017, and half of the job postings at that time include some mention of artificial intelligence, machine learning or deep learning.

In Siri, this could translate into more personalization and naturalness of the conversational process, in addition to the existing slightly stilted conversation style.

The iOS 17.4 beta also appeared to include signs of AI changes to Siri, as well as evidence that four different AI models were being tested. Two versions of AjaxGPT, Apple's own LLM, emerged: one used on-device processing and the other used external servers.

More artificial intelligence features

Siri is not a universal solution All of Apple's work on artificial intelligence has already incorporates machine learning capabilities into various parts of its operating systems and applications.

A January 7 leak listed AI changes to iOS 18 apps, including the addition of auto-summarizing and autofill tools for Pages and Keynote. Apple has also added “iWork.ai” to its list of domain names, fueling speculation about iWork.

Apple Music will also apparently get more artificial intelligence elements, such as automatic playlist creation.

While not specific to iOS 18 apps, Apple could also make it easier for developers to use the technology. There have been rumors about an Xcode update that includes code completion features.

Example from Apple's Keyframer test application

Although not directly associated with real-world functionality, Apple is also associated with other AI developments, including generation images.

In February, Apple and the University of California released an artificial intelligence-based image editing model called MGIE. Other Apple researchers have also published a research paper on creating a test generative AI application called Keyframer, which allows users to describe an image and how it should be animated.

It is reported that in addition to its own work, Apple was also interested in the possibility of using Google and Baidu technologies to one degree or another.

There has even been speculation that Apple will open an AI App Store, although it could easily be included as a section in the main App Store rather than as a separate entity.

Interfaces

AI is expected to be a big part of iOS 18 when it launches, but there will almost certainly be a number of other changes. This may include how users actually interact with the operating system.

On March 24, a newsletter claimed that Apple would make it much easier for users to customize their home screen in iOS 18. However, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman did not go into detail about this change.

iOS 17

There have also been dubious rumors that Apple will change the design of iOS 18 to be more inspired by the Apple Vision Pro, which launched in early February. Later that month, Gurman wrote that Apple would update the design of iOS, but would use glass textures or 3D buttons like VisionOS, as the aesthetic was made for headsets.

In November, reporting a week-long development pause, Gurman noted that internal descriptions from Apple's senior management said the updates would be “ambitious and compelling.”

Maps and freeform

In addition to AI-powered features, some Apple features have been rumored applications that should appear during WWDC.

Freeform, Apple's infinite canvas app, will get a new Scenes feature to help users navigate large boards. Users will be able to select specific sections of a free-form board by embedding anchor points that can be quickly navigated to when selected in the UI.

These scenes, like the canvas itself, can be edited and synced with others via iCloud.

Golden Gate Bridge in Apple Maps

Apple Maps may also be getting a brand new route planning feature. The code, found in late March, indicates the presence of an internal file called “CustomRouteCreation.”

Taking it at face value, this could be a feature that allows users to create their own routes when planning a trip. Currently, users can only select from a group of specified routes and then have to manually add stopping points.

RCS finally

After years of campaigning by Google, Apple announced in November that RCS messaging will come to iPhone next year. 2024. Although Apple hasn't said when this will happen, it appears that the best time will be in iOS 18.

Support for the universal RCS profile published by the GSMA will “provide a better interoperability experience compared to SMS or MMS” , Apple said in a statement.

RCS support for iMessage is likely coming in iOS 18.

While this is good news for text message users, the announcement doesn't exactly announce the reduction and -dry support. Apple will not use proprietary extensions for its implementation, such as Google's extension that adds end-to-end encryption, as it prefers to work with GSMA to add encryption to the core profile itself.

Android users hoping RCS will end the iMessage blue text bubble snobbery are out of luck. Apple will still use blue bubbles for iPhone users and green bubbles for Android, even under RCS.

Accessibility

As with other previous iOS releases, Apple will be improving accessibility features in iOS 18 to make it better for users.

Features like voice shortcuts are rumored to be coming on March 7th. This feature, vaguely similar to Siri Shortcuts, may work without asking “Hey Siri” first, and may end up being limited to activating other accessibility features.

Live Speech, which allows users to create phrases that can be spoken on the iPhone, will be complemented by an update to the organization. Category shortcuts and 20 available icons will make it easier for users to choose what they want to say on iPhone.

Some existing accessibility features in iOS and iPadOS

Although users can already control font size for each app in iOS, this requires apps to support it. With a new and improved font size control system, users will be able to control font size in more apps, including some system apps that don't yet offer this functionality.

Availability changes could also impact AirPods Pro, with iOS 18 rumored to have a new hearing aid mode in the works. While it already offers assistive features like Listen Live or Conversation Boost, this feature might just make AirPods Pro a viable hearing aid alternative for some users.

Supported iPhones

One of the leaks at the end of February showed that the list of iPhones that will support iOS 18 will be the same as those using iOS 17.

The list includes all models from the iPhone XS and iPhone XR generations to modern models. It is expected that the second and third generation iPhone SE will also support this operating system.

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