iOS 18: Release date, Apple Intelligence features and all you need to know

Described as 'personal intelligence', the new AI upgrade is expected to attract more customers and add to the company’s bottom line

Apple has unveiled its long-awaited plans to bring generative AI tools to its products, promising to make tools 'personal' to users, and will integrate ChatGPT into the iPhone and other devices. Photo: Apple
Powered by automated translation

Apple has announced sweeping plans to integrate generative artificial intelligence into nearly every aspect of its ecosystem with the launch of Apple Intelligence at the Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California this week.

The move comes as it competes with technology giants such as Microsoft and Google, which are among the first to take a bite of the burgeoning industry.

Described as a “personal intelligence” system for iPhone, iPad and Mac that combines the power of generative models with personal context, Apple Intelligence is expected to attract more customers and add to the company’s bottom line.

Industry analysts consider it a "smart move" by the company that is strategically expanding its services division and gradually reducing its reliance on hardware products.

Here, The National looks at what users can expect from Apple Intelligence and iOS 18, the coming operating system for the company’s main product, the iPhone.

iOS 18 release date

The developer beta version of iOS 18 became available on Monday and a public beta will be available next month, Apple said.

It will be available later this year as a free software update for iPhone Xs and later models.

Excitement around Apple Intelligence

Apple has come prepared with its generative AI offerings and the company has been thorough in addressing the privacy issue with on-device capabilities and, hence, is likely to gain more traction, Tarun Pathak, research director at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, told The National.

“We believe some of the use cases were similar to what we have seen in the industry like chat assisting, photo editing, summarisation, but the real strength lies in the execution and experience ... and Apple has scored points there.”

Apple’s emphasis on protecting users’ personal data could be a “game-changer” as it adds to users' confidence, said Thomas Monteiro, senior analyst at Investing.com.

“It's not just about AI tools that operate in the open-data market, but about tools that understand and protect your personal preferences and data.

“In a world where AI will be used millions of times per second, this perspective could shape the future of personal AI use, offering a more secure and tailored experience,” Mr Monteiro told The National.

Will OpenAI partnership overshadow Apple’s generative AI plans?

Though Apple has also announced its partnership with Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, analysts said it has been successful in creating its own niche.

“Despite OpenAI partnership they ensured that their own capabilities were not overshadowed and they successfully positioned their AI capabilities,” Mr Pathak said.

Apple has teamed up with OpenAI to integrate its generative AI tool into virtual assistant Siri. ChatGPT will be available free of charge in iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia – the next version of the desktop operating system – later this year.

OpenAI partnership

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk has warned that he will ban Apple devices at his companies if the iPhone maker integrates OpenAI’s AI software at the operating system level, calling it a security breach.

The partnership also raises concerns among analysts.

Apple is making AI accessible and practical for billions worldwide, Aaron Rafferty, chief executive of AI and machine learning firm Standard, said.

The range of AI-powered features, from call transcription to email summaries to an upgraded Siri, will boost productivity and ease everyday tasks, said Mr. Rafferty, who is concerned about users’ data privacy given Apple's partnership with OpenAI.

“By building it right into the OS, it will drive unprecedented adoption and use of AI in daily life. The issue though is privacy given their partnership with OpenAI. “While relying on OpenAI, given past issues with their data practices, warrants ongoing scrutiny, Apple's thoughtful privacy-preserving strategy positions it well to responsibly democratize AI's benefits,” Mr Rafferty told The National.

New language capabilities

Apple Intelligence introduces new language capabilities in the company's upcoming operating systems – iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia – boosting user communication and writing capabilities.

Integrated systemwide, the new writing tools will allow users to rewrite, proofread and summarise text across various apps such as Mail, Notes and Pages. The rewrite feature offers different versions of text, adjusting tone as needed, while proofreading checks grammar and suggests edits. Summarise creates concise recaps.

Mail enhancements include priority messages for urgent emails and notifications are improved with priority alerts and quick summaries. Notes and Phone apps can now record, transcribe and summarise audio, aiding users in recalling key points from calls.

Privacy in AI

The Cupertino-headquartered company said Apple Intelligence relies on on-device processing of data.

To run more complex requests that require more processing power, Apple’s Private Cloud Compute technology will ensure the privacy and security of devices into the cloud.

With Private Cloud Compute, Apple Intelligence can “flex and scale its computational capacity and draw on larger, server-based models for more complex requests”, the company said.

These models run on servers powered by Apple chips, providing a foundation that allows Apple to ensure that data is never retained or exposed.

When can users access Apple Intelligence?

Apple Intelligence will be free for users and will be available in beta (trial) version as part of iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia in September or October in English language.

“Some features, software platforms and additional languages will come over the course of the next year,” Apple said.

It will be available on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac with M1 chip and later versions, with Siri and device language set to US English. Wider availability of public version in more languages can take months but Apple did not disclose any timetable.

Passwords app with iOS 18

The new Passwords app makes it easy for users to access their passwords and verification codes. It will also include alerts for users regarding common weaknesses, such as passwords that are easily guessed or used several times and those that appear in known data leaks.

The latest operating system also aims to give users more control with tools to manage who can see their apps, how contacts are shared and how their iPhone connects to accessories.

Users can now lock an app and for additional privacy can hide it too, moving it to a locked, hidden folder. When an app is locked or hidden, content such as messages or emails within the app are hidden from search, notifications and elsewhere across the system, Apple said.

The new software will also introduce new accessibility updates including eye tracking, a built-in option for navigating iPhone with only the eyes.

AI-powered services to boost bottom line

Industry analysts expect the launch of Apple Intelligence will enhance the company's offerings, attract a larger global user base and potentially boost sales.

Last month, Apple reported an annual drop in its March quarter net profit and revenue. It reported a 2.2 per cent annual drop in the 2024 fiscal's second-quarter net profit to more than $23.6 billion.

Revenue during the January-March period dropped more than 4 per cent to $90.8 billion, slightly exceeding analysts’ estimates of $90 billion.

Apple's stock, which closed 1.91 per cent down at $193.12 on Monday, jumped on Tuesday morning. It surged 5.77 per cent to trade at $204.26 a share at 8.35pm UAE time (12.35pm New York time), giving the company a market valuation of $3.13 trillion.

Updated: June 12, 2024, 12:14 PM