Preview of WWDC 2024: What to Expect from Apple

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 will take place from June 10–14 at Apple Park, with the keynote address scheduled for 10 AM PT on June 10. You can stream it for free on Apple’s website, the Apple TV app, and the Apple Developer app. Now, let’s follow us to preview it and predict something about what you can expect from Apple WWDC2024!

Generative AI: The Highlight of WWDC 2024

Based on recent leaks and rumors, most discussions have centered around system-level AI features. In contrast, there’s less information about iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15, and almost no details on watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS. This suggests that the focus of this year’s WWDC might be introducing a new concept—the much-anticipated “generative AI.”

Since the release of ChatGPT, tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have rapidly advanced in the generative AI space, incorporating numerous AI-related features into their ecosystems. However, Apple has been relatively quiet, often referring to AI as “machine learning” in public forums.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned in an interview that Apple has invested significant resources into generative AI and plans to share its progress later this year. Subsequent reports indicate that Apple is collaborating with companies like Google and OpenAI.

Accompaniment Musician

In the iPad event this past May, Apple introduced the first generative AI feature within Logic Pro called “Accompaniment Musician.” This is currently the only available generative AI feature developed by Apple.

At WWDC, Apple is expected to unveil a new AI system named Apple Intelligence, which will be integrated across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and later on visionOS, watchOS, and tvOS. These AI features will carry a “beta” label, allowing users to toggle them on or off manually. The AI capabilities will run both on-device and via cloud processing using OpenAI technology, balanced by a specific algorithm to optimize performance.

AI is anticipated to dominate half of the keynote. Given Apple’s long-standing emphasis on on-device data processing, a significant portion will likely address privacy measures related to cloud processing. This includes using SoC security features in data centers, not storing user data on servers, and issuing transparency reports to demonstrate data security. Additionally, Apple will highlight the benefits of on-device processing.

There are rumors that Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi developed a keen interest in generative AI after experiencing GitHub Copilot, prompting him to integrate these features into Apple’s apps and functionalities.

Siri and Spotlight

According to current leaks, Apple plans to upgrade Siri in iOS 18 by revamping its underlying software and logic. This enables Siri to handle multi-command sequences rather than just single commands.

For example:

  • Opening specific documents
  • Moving files between folders
  • Deleting emails
  • Summarizing articles
  • Recapping recent notifications or messages
  • Emailing webpage links
  • Opening specific news sites in Apple News
  • Converting videos to GIFs and sending them

In iOS 18, Siri will also leverage large language models (LLMs) to enhance conversational coherence and integrate real-time context. I’m curious to see if Siri in iOS 18 can chat as fluently as ChatGPT.

Spotlight search may offer smarter results and improved sorting, better-integrating information from applications like Contacts and Calendar. Siri on the Apple Watch will also see improvements, optimized for light tasks. However, the new Siri might not debut with iOS 18’s initial release in September but could be introduced in future updates in 2025.

Systems and Applications

As Apple continuously refines user interaction, the interface and operational logic have matured significantly. With AI integration in iOS, automation, and intelligence will further enhance user convenience. These changes will undoubtedly impact native iOS applications deeply.

 Home Screen and Design

Historically, each iOS update brings notable changes. For instance, iOS 16 revamped the lock screen design, starting iOS’s personalization journey. Two years later, iOS 18 is set to launch. With AI integration, iOS 18 could become one of the most revolutionary versions in iOS history.

iOS 18 will expand home screen personalization, allowing users to place apps freely, without following a sequential order—similar to Android users who can keep empty rows or columns.

Apple may also let users change app icon colors, freeing them from developer-provided options. For instance, users could make all social apps blue or all messaging apps green, simplifying the home screen’s visual style.

Rumors suggest that iOS 18 design changes will make some elements resemble visionOS.

The Photos app in iOS 18 will go beyond preset filter adjustments and parameter controls. It will introduce generative AI to automatically recognize subjects and scenes in images, removing and filling redundant items. Google and Samsung already offer similar functions, so Apple is catching up here.

Additionally, Apple is reportedly developing an internal app named “Generative Playground,” which can generate or edit images using AI. It’s unclear how this feature will eventually appear in the system.

Apple Music

Apple Music will introduce an intelligent song transition feature, improving the existing crossfade option. This feature will distinguish between the sounds and rhythms of successive songs for different crossfade transitions. Essentially, while one song is still playing, the next song starts, and the AI determines the optimal cut-in time. Users can adjust the crossfade duration from 1 to 12 seconds.

Apple Music might also add an auto-generated playlist feature. Based on mood, time of day, and other parameters, the system will suggest music accordingly.

Notes and Voice Memos

Currently, Notes and Voice Memos serve distinct functions: Notes record text, images, or graphics, while Voice Memos capture audio. In iOS 18, the Notes app will support recording voice memos directly within the app, embedding the recordings into notes. There are also rumors that Apple will add support for mathematical symbols, allowing more types of mathematical expressions in Notes.

Both Notes and Voice Memos will include an audio transcription feature, providing automatically generated transcribed texts. The Notes app is also expected to offer AI-generated summaries of key points from audio recordings and notes.

Mail and Messages

In iOS 18, the system will intelligently provide AI-generated smart replies based on the context of chats or emails. iMessage will support standalone text effects, presenting individual words with animations.

Apple plans to introduce an emoji auto-generation feature that creates new emojis based on the content of user messages.

Mail will incorporate an automatic sorting function similar to Gmail’s.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice recently sued Apple over iMessage exclusivity, alleging anti-competitive behavior. Under pressure, Apple is expected to add RCS (Rich Communication Services) functionality in iOS 18. iPhone users will be able to send photos and videos to Android users, support group chats, cross-platform emoji reactions, read receipts, and typing indicators.

Safari Browser

Safari is expected to undergo a major redesign, featuring a new “intelligent search” tool and a “web eraser” tool. The “intelligent search” tool uses generative AI to identify key topics and phrases on webpages, generating summaries to enhance the browsing experience.

The “web eraser” tool allows users to remove unwanted parts of a webpage. Sections repeatedly erased will remain hidden on future visits, though users can choose to restore them.

The shortcut menu in the address bar will integrate some functions from the shared form. Apple also plans to narrow the gap between the iPadOS and macOS versions of Safari.

Maps

The Maps app in iOS 18 will add several features. Custom routes will allow users to input desired navigation paths, such as scenic routes or familiar roads, rather than being limited to pre-set options.

Apple plans to bring the topographic maps introduced in watchOS 10 to iOS 18. These maps support trails, contour lines, elevation, points of interest, and other features useful for hiking and other outdoor activities.

New Password Management App

Apple might introduce a new Password app to replace third-party applications like 1Password and LastPass. Currently, the password management feature “iCloud Keychain” is integrated across Apple’s systems, storing login information, Wi-Fi passwords, and communication keys securely. However, being hidden in system settings, many users are unaware of its existence.

Apple plans to launch an independent password management app based on the “iCloud Keychain,” encouraging users to create stronger passwords and avoid reusing passwords across multiple sites and services[10].

Other System and App Updates

Calendar App

The Calendar app is expected to integrate reminders, allowing users to view and interact with reminders directly within the calendar.

Calculator App

iPadOS 18 will finally introduce the long-awaited “Calculator” app, which will be a universal app running on iPhone, iPad, and macOS. It will support notes, unit conversions, and calculation history.

Freeform App

The Freeform app will update with a feature called “Scenes,” allowing users to select and save specific parts of the canvas for quick navigation to those areas.

iWork Suite

The iWork suite will include new generative AI features. Keynote will have an option to auto-generate slides, while Pages will support text generation capabilities.

Shortcuts Integration

Shortcuts will better integrate with Siri, allowing for more complex automated tasks.

Health App

The Health app will add blood pressure management, preparing for future Apple Watch models. It will also support hearing tests and pregnancy tracking. New AI features might be included, but details are currently unclear.

Control Center

Control Center may get a new design, allowing users to rearrange controls, support cross-page placement, and include a new Apple Music widget and an improved HomeKit control center.

Settings Simplification

Settings across multiple platforms will be simplified with a new layout, making it easier to find relevant settings.

Wallpaper Packs

Apple devices will receive new wallpaper packs, including classic Mac logos and icons, early iPhone wallpapers, and more.

Compatibility

Due to the extensive AI features, the performance requirements will be higher. Many models, including the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone SE 2, and related models, might be excluded. For iPads, support for A10X Fusion chip devices and earlier seventh-generation models may be dropped. The list might look as follows:

 

Conclusion

From the above information, it’s clear that AI will be the buzzword at this year’s WWDC. Apple’s focus in the past year has heavily leaned towards generative AI, resulting in fewer substantial system improvements.

Additionally, reports suggest that no hardware products will be announced at this year’s WWDC. So, those waiting for the M3 Ultra Mac Studio, Mac Pro, or M3-powered Vision Pro might want to take a break.

Let’s wait and see what surprises Apple has in store for users and developers at this year’s WWDC. Stay tuned!

 

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