iOS 18 Will Have AI Features Running On-Device for Privacy: Report

Published on 22 Apr, 2024, 9:11 AM IST
Updated on 22 Apr, 2024, 9:12 AM IST

Jamshed Avari
3 min read
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Apple is currently seen as trailing in the AI race, but safe and private on-device processing could give it an edge.

Apple is gearing up to unveil its next software platforms at its annual WWDC conference, which kicks off on June 10, and AI is expected to have a huge presence this year. iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 are expected to gain significant new AI-based features, though it is not yet clear whether these will run on some of Apple’s current hardware, or will be aimed at next-gen devices. This means Apple could also preview some unreleased hardware or at least disclose details about its upcoming mobile, laptop and desktop processors at WWDC, as AI capabilities will be closely tied into their development. iOS 18 is also rumoured to introduce a major UI design overhaul, with elements from visionOS, which powers the Apple Vision Pro headset.

Given Apple’s focus on privacy and data security as major platform selling points, iOS 18 is expected to gain AI-powered features that do not require data to be sent to a remote server for processing. Instead, operations will be handled on device, without even needing an Internet connection, as per reports from trusted analyst Mark Gurman. On-device processing would also speed up responses and reduce latency. 

Apple is said to be developing its own Large Language Model (LLM), possibly codenamed Ajax, in order to enable these features. It is also likely that devices will gain additional AI capabilities that do require an Internet connection, meaning that the on-device features will be only a part of the AI landscape that Apple envisions. The giant was also said to be in talks with OpenAI and Google to license their LLMs, which was seen as an admission that it had fallen behind in the race to launch AI features.  

Specific details of what sort of AI features Apple might implement have not yet leaked, and Apple is unlikely to put out official teasers before its WWDC keynote announcement. The most obvious guesses are improved accuracy and speed for the Siri voice assistant, advanced media editing and manipulation tools, image and video generation, background noise reduction in recordings, object identification, and smart text composition tools, which several competitors have already demonstrated or launched.

Previous rumours have suggested that Apple’s upcoming A18 smartphone SoC, which will power the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro models, will have significantly boosted AI processing capabilities with larger Neural Engines. This is in line with industry trends. However, it is not yet known whether all four expected iPhone 16 models will have the same SoC or variant, and whether this means that all on-device AI features will not be able to run on the iPhone 15 series and earlier models. 

This also aligns with recent rumours that Apple’s M4 SoC series will also have much improved AI processing capabilities, and will debut in refreshed Macs as early as this year, which is sooner than previously expected. The company could skip M3-based versions of some products including the Mac mini, while new MacBook Pros could also land in late 2024, less than a year after the release of their M3-based equivalents.

iOS 18
macOS 15
WWDC 2024
iPhone 16
iPhone 16 Pro
Apple A18
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