Apple's iOS 18 AI plans set out in new report – here are 9 new features to expect

An iPhone on a blue background showing the Siri logo
Siri could be at the center of an iOS 18 overhaul (Image credit: Apple)

We've been hearing rumors for months about how iOS 18 will be a major upgrade – perhaps one of the biggest in its history – and a new report adds some more details about what we should expect when the software is officially unveiled next month.

These details come courtesy of Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, usually one of the most reliable reporters when it comes to accurately predicting Apple's future plans, and leaking its software and hardware announcements ahead of time.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman outlines some of the AI-infused upgrades rumored to be heading to iOS 18 (and macOS 15 in some cases). Here's what we think might be coming, based on his latest update – and why some on-device AI features could be exclusive to recent iPhone models.

1. Voice memo transcribing

Using AI to turn voice memos into text is common practice these days – the Google Pixel Recorder app does it, for example – and this is apparently one of the features heading to iOS 18. It could well be built right into the Voice Memos app that's included with iOS.

2. Photo retouching

This is also something we're now familiar with: see the generative AI editing tools available on the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, for example. Options could include moving or erasing objects, or optimizing colors (the Photos app has already been tipped for an upgrade).

3. Better searching

According to Gurman, searches across iOS 18 and macOS 15 will become "faster and more reliable" thanks to AI. As previously rumored, we might see search results from more apps, and improved support for natural language queries when you're looking for something.

4. Automatic replies

It sounds as though you'll soon be able to generate smart AI responses in the Apple Mail and Apple Messages apps, if you want to hand over writing duties. These will be suggestions though: you'll still be able to review and edit them before sending.

5. Safari improvements

Safari is in line for a pretty hefty upgrade this year. Gurman follows up on earlier leaks to say Safari will get an improved web search with the help of AI – this should mean more relevant results, alongside the ability to get quick summaries of the websites you visit.

6. A more natural Siri

As previously reported, Siri is going to get easier to talk to, as well as coming up with better responses – more like a person and less like a bot. Siri will offer more "natural-sounding interactions based on Apple's own large language models" according to Gurman's article.

7. AI-generated emojis

One AI-related feature mentioned in Gurman's report that we haven't heard about before is an AI emoji machine. Apparently this will bring up custom emojis instantly, based on what you're typing – so you'll never be stuck looking for an emoji to match your message.

8. Smart summaries

Expect smart summaries to be everywhere in iOS 18: Emails, webpages, messages, and more. This is something that has leaked before, and which may well cover notifications too. If it works like it sounds like it will, the feature should save you a lot of reading time.

9. Home screen customizations

This isn't strictly speaking AI related, but following up on what he's said previously, Gurman states that iOS 18 home screen app shortcuts can be arranged any way you like – not just in a grid – and that their colors can be changed to match a particular theme.

There's likely to be more besides, once iOS 18 finally sees the light of day – tighter integration between Calendar and Reminders, improved math functions in Notes, smoother song transitions in Apple Music – but the features listed above are the ones Gurman specifically refers to in his new report.

Apple AI and OpenAI ChatGPT

The WWDC 2024 Logo

We'll hear a lot more at WWDC 2024 (Image credit: Apple)

Gurman's new report also sheds some light on Apple's rumored partnership with OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT and Dall-E. Apparently, Apple's own AI models – both stored on the iPhone and in the cloud – will be used to handle the core AI tasks listed above, but they won't extend to powering a fully fledged AI chatbot.

For that, Gurman says, Apple will partner with OpenAI to give users the option of ChatGPT on the iPhone. It's not clear how this will differ from simply using the ChatGPT app for iOS, but deeper integration with the iPhone software is presumably on the way. The partnership will be announced at WWDC 2024 on June 10, Gurman says, alongside all these new features for iOS and macOS.

However, Apple doesn't want to rely on OpenAI exclusively, according to Gurman – so talks are still ongoing to offer Google Gemini as an AI chatbot option too. That won't be talked about at the WWDC 2024 event in June though. Other chatbots could also be added further down the line.

This new report also states that Apple will emphasize the privacy of its AI tools – both on-device and in the cloud – compared to those offered by the likes of Google and Meta. Finally, Gurman mentions that the AI features in iOS 18 might come with a 'preview' label attached, to indicate they're still in development.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.