Apple will reveal iOS 18 in just four months. That’s the software which will power the iPhone and go on general release from this fall. And while some years Apple has gentle updates, it’s believed that this year’s will be exceptional. It could be bigger than any other free update—earlier game-changers such as the Mac’s OSX used not to be free.
February 6 update below. This post was first published on February 4, 2024.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, and spotted by 9to5Mac, this year’s software update will be one to look forward to. Gurman says, “I’m told that the new operating system is seen within the company as one of the biggest iOS updates—if not the biggest—in the company’s history. With that knowledge, Apple’s developers conference in June should be pretty exciting.”
Well, that sounds promising. Wherein lies its greatness, you may wonder. First up, it seems that Apple is getting round to building artificial intelligence into the iPhone in a big way.
Sure, the iPhone already does a bunch of stuff through machine learning, Apple’s preferred term for AI, but it looks like generative AI will be debuting this year.
Gurman has previously said that we can expect to a significantly upgraded Siri that is smarter and better able to handle language, auto-completion in Messages, and playlists in Apple Music which can generate themselves.
There will also be generative AI in apps like Keynote, Pages, Numbers and so on. And Xcode will have generative AI to make it quicker for developers to write new applications.
And “there’s a lot more,” we’re told. “Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, told employees last year that the OS—codenamed Crystal—will have ambitious changes all around,” Gurman reports.
There are no further details about what this might entail, but it’s another promising sign. In previous years at about this time, it’s been reported that Apple would be doubling down on reliability and performance (both good things, obviously) but at the expense of show-stopping new features.
It looks like this will not be one of those years. And this year’s releases have been promising. Sure, there was a hiccup with the second beta of iOS 17.3, which was quickly pulled, but it didn’t put Apple off its stroke, with the general release happening bang on schedule, and the huge changes coming to iOS 17.4 also looking to land on time.
We may hear more about iOS 18 between now and June—though Apple is better at keeping software under wraps—but the first impressions of what might be coming are exciting.
February 6 update. As the excitement about how ground-breaking iOS 18 might be revs up, there have been more reports. The excellent Esat Dedezade at Stuff has just put together a comprehensive report and points in the same direction as you’ll have read above. He believes that iOS 18 will be unveiled in four months’ time. He comments, “Given that we tend to hear about iOS directly from Apple during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, we will almost certainly get our first glimpse of it in early June, which is when WWDC tends to take place.”
I agree with that. WWDC is almost always held in the first, or just occasionally, the second, week of June. That means that Monday, June 3 or Monday, June 10 will be when we see iOS 18 in all its glory. Personally, I’m leaning towards the second of those two dates.
Dedezade also believes that AI will be key, just as it was for Samsung in the recent release of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which leant as heavily on AI software as on new hardware features. He comments on reports that “Apple is planning to launch its own AI chatbot later this year,” and that there are rumors of Apple using a large-language model for its refresh of Siri. And the advanced silicon we expect to find in the iPhone 16 series should mean,” this updated AI functionality is expected to run seamlessly on-device.” Stay tuned.