Updated March 28th, 2024 at 19:06 IST

Will Apple spring a surprise with ‘biggest’ iOS 18 update?

The introduction of new AI features aligns with Apple's focus on advancing AI technologies, as hinted by CEO Tim Cook in the last investors meet.

Reported by: Anirudh Trivedi
Apple iOS 17 | Image:Apple

Apple iOS 18 update: The upcoming iOS 18 could potentially mark the ‘biggest’ update in the iPhone's software history, according to Apple Analyst Mark Gurman citing Apple software engineers. The expectations surrounding iOS 18 were outlined in a recent report focusing on the upcoming WWDC 2024, scheduled to take place from June 10 to June 14.

From more customizability to better navigational maps, Apple is set to take the experience to a new height while also trying to catch up with the generative AI bandwagon. 


Focus on Generative AI

According to the 9to5Mac, the expected features for iOS 18 include the integration of new generative AI capabilities across various apps, including Siri, Spotlight, Shortcuts, Apple Music, Messages, Health, Numbers, Pages, and Keynote. 


The introduction of new AI features aligns with Apple's focus on advancing AI technologies, as hinted by CEO Tim Cook in the last investors meeting and reiterated by Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak.

Cook in the shareholders meeting said, "Apple is seeing incredible breakthrough potential for generative AI, which is why we're currently investing significantly in this area. We believe that will unlock transformative opportunities for users when it comes to productivity, problem-solving and more."


According to recent reports, Apple is engaged in discussions to integrate Google's Gemini artificial intelligence engine into the iPhone. The report states that Apple has recently explored potential collaborations with OpenAI, considering the adoption of its model for iPhone features.

Generative AI gained traction notably with the release of OpenAI's ChatGPT in late 2022, prompting companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft to invest in this evolving technology. While iOS 18 may not introduce Apple's own ChatGPT-like chatbot, discussions with OpenAI, Google, and Baidu suggest potential partnerships to integrate other generative AI features into the operating system.


Home Screen flexibility

The Apple iOS 18 is also rumoured to bring some major changes to the Home Screen, allowing users more flexibility in arranging app icons. This includes the ability to create blank spaces, columns, and rows between icons, a feature long available on Android devices but now making its way to iPhones.


With this, Apple is experimenting with the improved customisation features which have always remained to be the weakest link of iOS against Android. Even with these updates, Android still stays miles ahead of iOS as it offers 100 per cent customizability to the user. However, the uniform and simple-to-use user interface of iOS has been a major selling point for the iPhone. 

Topographic maps for smartphones

Apple Maps in iOS 18 will introduce custom routes and topographic maps, to improve the navigation and outdoor exploration for its users. These features empower users to plan personalised routes, accommodating specific preferences and needs. 

The addition of topographic maps offers a detailed view of the terrain, aiding outdoor enthusiasts in their adventures. Apple’s topographic maps have been previously exclusive to WatchOS and with this update, the iPhone users will also have access to them. 


RCS messaging 

Moreover, iOS 18 is likely to introduce RCS support in the Messages app, improving messaging capabilities between iPhones and Android devices with features like higher-resolution media, typing indicators, and improved group chats.


RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is an advanced messaging protocol designed to override the limitations of traditional SMS and MMS messaging. It enables users to send higher-quality images and videos, read receipts, see typing indicators, engage in group chats, and use other interactive features commonly found in messaging apps. 

While specifics on design changes remain undisclosed, Gurman suggests that iOS 18 will bring notable alterations to the user interface, aligning with Apple's tradition of periodically refreshing the design to enhance user experience.


Published March 28th, 2024 at 19:02 IST