Apple may reportedly introduce AI features to devices with iOS 18, but it may come at a cost


Apple may be planning a major upgrade for its iPhone devices with the iOS 18 update. A new report has revealed that the Cupertino-based tech giant is working on introducing artificial intelligence (AI) features to its smartphones at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 to be held in June. Interestingly, the company may make all AI features available on the device instead of keeping them cloud-based. Notably, a report last week highlighted that Apple may unveil a new AI-powered browsing feature for Safari that will let users summarize web pages.

The information comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman's Power On newsletter, where he answered a question about how many of Apple's planned AI features might be cloud-based. According to Gurman, absolutely not! The tech giant can make all the features available locally and process it on the device itself. This move, if true, could have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on how the iPhone maker handles issues with AI features.

Having AI features completely locally is great for privacy and data security. This means that any data shared with an app or system feature never leaves the user's iPhone, and the information is unlikely to reach any third parties. This makes the device more secure and users do not have to worry about their sensitive data as well.

However, it also has a downside. In fact, there are a couple of them. First, AI computers require significantly greater amounts of processing power than the typical tasks the device can perform. Most large language models run GPU-based inference on computers. Even smartphones nowadays are working on adding special “AI processors” that are equipped with a combination of powerful CPU, GPU, and NPU (Neural Processing Unit). Despite this, running complex algorithms locally on the device can be a difficult task. That's why Samsung gives users the option of whether they want to run certain Galaxy AI features on the device or through a server.

It may be a challenging task for Apple to bring some of these features locally. And this brings us to the second downside. If Apple intends to offer only on-device AI features, it may not be able to offer some of the features being offered by competitors. For example, Galaxy AI has an interpreter feature that translates verbal conversations between two speakers standing near the phone in real time. Similarly, Oppo offers AI-powered image creation capabilities to users in China. Will Apple be able to customize such features on the device? And will it be able to do it fast enough so that it doesn't lag behind the competition? WWDC 2024 may answer some of these questions.

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