On-device AI is expected in iOS 18; here’s why it matters

Apple's choice tells us a lot about its AI plans


If Apple reveals iOS 18 at WWDC 2024 on June 10, we won’t see it for six weeks. If AI allegations are true, Apple may have made a smart iOS upgrading decision.

Since Apple plans to add more AI-powered capabilities to its phones this year, iOS 18 will focus on AI. That leaves the corporation with a choice: power such features in the cloud or locally using the iPhone’s system-on-chip neural engine.

According to reports, Apple will use on-device AI for iOS 18. If accurate, that reveals Apple’s update goals for this year.

Why on-device AI matters

Cloud-based AI might have added iPhone functionality. It would have sacrificed quickness and privacytwo features Apple values in its iPhone experience. With on-device AI, “Apple’s AI tools may be less strong and knowledgable (the corporation might fill up the holes by partnering up with Google and other AI providers), but the method will make reaction times much faster. Apple will find privacy simpler.”

Cloud servers boost processing power for specific functionalities. Google Pixel 8 Pro customers may use Video Boost to improve captured video in the cloud. Mobile processors can quickly translate, transcribe, and summarize, while traditional processing might take hours.

As for privacy, corporations may encrypt cloud data, but once it leaves your phone, you lose control. Apple has been attentive to that in other areas, so AI should take that into account.

On-device AI functions may not operate on all phones that can run iOS 18, which is another drawback. Devices dating back to 2018’s iPhone XR may be compatible with iOS 18. Do iPhones from five or six years ago have the processing power of the iPhone 15 or iPhone 16 smartphones coming out with iOS 18?

However, iOS updates often exclude older phones from some functionalities. iOS 17 included hand-triggered FaceTime effects, but you need an iPhone 12 to use them. We expect iOS features with comparable needs, AI-powered or not.

On-device AI features: what to anticipate

If Apple’s choice to skip cloud computing implies iOS 18’s AI may be weaker, what features will the iPhone get? Gurman reported that iOS 18’s AI “plans to show how the technology can help people in their daily lives.”

Apple has published some AI models that provide light on its plans. Most of these models are expected to build Siri 2.0, Apple’s digital assistant that can handle more complicated questions.

Ferret-UL, a multimodal large language model, can distinguish icon kinds discover text on your phone screen, and complete tasks based on what it sees.

MM1 trains multimodal models using synthetic visuals and text.

OpenELM provides various modest language models for third-party developers and academics to discuss model biases, hazards, and trustworthiness.

Besides the Siri revamp, iOS 18 rumors have suggested AI-generated playlists in Apple Music, slide creation in Keynote, suggested text for Pages documents, and a Safari browsing assistant that could summarize web content.

Apple iOS 18 AI forecast

The iOS 18 preview at WWDC in June will likely reveal AI-driven features. However, claims about Apple’s preference for on-device capabilities might establish expectations. Right now, responsive features that handle boring chores well seem to be the focus.

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