Apple’s WWDC 2024: Company's AI pivot likely to take centre stage

Tech major could announce partnerships with OpenAI and Google during the event next week

Apple is expected to unveil the first official look of iOS 18, the latest operating system for iPhones, on Monday. Getty Images
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Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, beginning on June 10, is to be keenly watched as the company is anticipated to outline its plans for generative artificial intelligence.

While last year's conference saw the launch of Apple’s first augmented- and virtual-reality headset, Vision Pro, this year’s WWDC is set to focus less on hardware.

The company is expected to announce the latest iPhone operating system, iOS 18, and reveal its plans to integrate AI into its devices and services, including a rumoured partnership with Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

The online event will be live-streamed on the company's website and other platforms from its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Developers can attend the event in person at Apple Park on Monday.

Apple does not confirm product names and services ahead of its events, but here is what the iPhone maker is expected to announce during its first major launch event this year from June 10 to 14.

Will Apple go big on AI?

Industry apprehensions about Apple lagging in generative AI compared with Microsoft and Alphabet prompted the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, to hint at major plans during shareholder calls in February.

Mr Cook assured investors that Apple would “break new ground” in generative AI.

“We believe it will unlock transformative opportunities for our users,” he said.

In November, he said the company was “investing quite a bit” in AI.

Next week, Apple is predicted to unveil the incorporation of generative AI features in its operating systems for iPhones, smartwatches, TVs, laptops and desktops.

Additionally, potential AI updates to its digital assistant Siri, including the introduction of enhanced capabilities, are also expected.

Will Apple reveal OpenAI and Google deals?

Apple is in discussions with OpenAI and Alphabet-owned Google to integrate their AI chatbots in its operating systems, according to various media reports.

However, Apple has not confirmed these deals yet.

A partnership with Apple will offer OpenAI, the company behind generative AI tool ChatGPT, access to millions of the tech giant's users and new funding.

Meanwhile Apple can integrate one of the most widely tested generative AI technologies into its services and products without any delay.

However, Dag Kittlaus, co-founder of Siri before it was acquired by Apple in 2010, expects any such partnership to be short-lived.

“You can bet that they [Apple] will be working hard building out their own competencies here,” Bloomberg quoted Mr Kittlaus as saying.

Apple is also reportedly exploring a partnership with Google to use its generative AI tool, Gemini, in its products.

Should we expect Apple’s own AI chatbot?

Some industry rumours also suggest that Apple might bypass any potential deal with Google and OpenAI and announce its in-house AI chatbot called Apple GPT.

After the collapse of its electric car project, Apple reportedly reassigned several employees to work on its internal generative AI initiatives and is currently using Apple GPT internally.

AI-powered iOS18 for iPhones

Apple is expected to unveil the first official look of iOS 18 on Monday.

The new operating system for iPhones is expected to feature major AI upgrades, such as on-device processing of data, refurbished Siri, and smart integration among messages, Apple Music and other apps.

Some other features will include real-time transcription for voice memos, response suggestions for calendar and mail, custom route creation for maps, improved home screen customisation, AI-powered photo editing and AI-generated playlists in the Apple music app.

Apple historically releases the first developer beta (trial) version within few hours of the announcement while the first free public beta version will be available after nearly a month.

The official public release is usually scheduled in September or October after the new iPhone announcement.

Apple Watch, iPad and Vision Pro software updates

The latest iPadOS 18 is expected to come with a new hands-free feature that will allow users to control their tablet using eye tracking, similar to what the Vision Pro offers.

Apple is also expected to introduce watchOS11 with minor upgrades. The new version is anticipated to introduce new ways to process or analyse workout-related data and tools to improve sleep tracking and stress management.

VisionOS 2 for Vision Pro is also expected to debut at WWDC.

All the updates will be followed by a round of beta testing before they are officially released later this year.

How can you watch the conference?

Live streaming will be available through Apple's website, the Apple Developer app on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV and YouTube.

Users can also access the on-demand playback available after the conclusion of the live stream.

Mr Cook is expected to begin the keynote at 10am Pacific Time on Monday (9pm UAE time).

Updated: June 10, 2024, 3:50 PM