June 23, 2024

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What to expect at WWDC 24: Big changes to iOS, more Vision Pro, and lots of AI

What to expect at WWDC 24: Big changes to iOS, more Vision Pro, and lots of AI
Zoom in / WWDC24 conference logo.

apple

Apple’s annual WWDC developers conference kicks off in Cupertino, California, next week. As always, he will begin with a live stream keynote on Monday morning at 10am PT and 1pm ET. We’ll be there to report on the event, so let’s take a moment to take stock of what we expect to see next week.

But first, let’s note something we no I guess we’ll see: Given some idiosyncrasies around Apple’s upgrade cycles, as well as the trend toward the M4, we don’t actually expect any major hardware announcements at WWDC this year.

That’s okay, because it looks like it’s going to be a big event for software news. iOS has seen relatively modest updates in the past couple of years, but that’s about to change.

Artificial intelligence in the spotlight

Most of the rumors leading up to WWDC were about Apple making plans to announce a lot of generative AI features for its platforms. Part of this is because AI is the hot topic at the moment, so anything related to this is bound to get some coverage. However, according to leaks published by Bloomberg, The Information and others, it seems that Apple will make a conscious effort to reposition itself as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence.

Apple was already doing great things with machine learning in iOS and elsewhere, like features that make photo editing easier, smart recommendations, and more. But there have been major new developments in models recently that allow for many new options, as we’ve seen from other companies like OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft.

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We don’t know many details about what exactly Apple will do here other than focus on it. The company has published several papers regarding new large-format chat models, major Siri improvements, image generation, and more, but it’s hard to know what will become user-facing features.

Capabilities include automatically generated summaries in apps like Mail, new ways to block ads or interact with websites in Safari, help with editing code similar to GitHub Copilot in Xcode, creating clip art for iWork documents, and more conversational and wide-ranging answers from Siri, New photo editing features, expanded accessibility features, new copy capabilities, and more.

Apple is said to be in talks with companies like OpenAI and Google (it appears a deal has already been reached with OpenAI) about enhancing Siri and other parts of the iOS or macOS experience with an external AI-powered chatbot. Apple is said to be trialling its own chatbot, but one of these is unlikely to be a solid alternative to the likes of ChatGPT. At the very least, expect Apple to partner with at least one company (perhaps OpenAI) as a provider of out-of-band answers to queries posed by Siri or in Spotlight.

There have been rumors that Apple could offer users a choice between several AI providers or launch an AI App Store, but we don’t know for sure how that will all take shape.

iOS and iPadOS 18

iOS 18 (and its close sibling, iPadOS 18) will be released later this year alongside the new iPhones, likely in September or October. But WWDC is the first time we’ve gotten a look at the major features Apple has planned.

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Typically, Apple announces most new iOS features during the upcoming keynote, but it may save some yet-to-be-announced iPhone-related features for later.

This year, rumors point to a major overhaul of both the Control Center and Settings, in addition to the aforementioned inclusion of several new machine learning, LLM, or image creation features. One famous example of how AI is being used in iOS described a new home screen that allows users to quickly recolor app icons to create a consistent color palette across their phone. Apple may also allow users to place icons wherever they want, addressing the annoying “wobble mode” home screen management we’ve criticized in our iOS reviews for years.

Expect big new features for Messages as well New text effects And formatting options. There’s also a strong possibility that Apple will go into detail about RCS support in iOS. Generative AI could allow users to create custom emojis or stickers as well.

There have also been some rumors that Apple will make some visual changes to iOS, borrowing a bit from the visual language we saw in VisionOS this spring.

And one more thing: iPadOS finally got a calculator app. We’re not sure why it’s taking so long, but it is.