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WWDC 2024 – Apple’s AI event!

And we are told it’s going to be Absolutely Incredible!

WWDC 2024 event banner

WWDC was formally announced by Apple yesterday – put the date in your diary as it promises to be a busy one.

Whether it can replicate last year where the ‘one other thing’ turned out to be the Vision Pro or not remains to be seen but I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s gonna give us plenty to talk about and shape the future of iOS.

This year’s event starts on Monday 10th June with the keynote speech as normal and runs through until Friday 14th June. The event will be a pre-recorded affair as last year but Apple will be inviting a few hand-selected developers and students to attend in person.

The formal word from Susan Prescott, Apple’s VP of Worldwide Developer Relations was:

“We’re so excited to connect with developers from around the world for an extraordinary week of technology and community at WWDC24. WWDC is all about sharing new ideas and providing our amazing developers with innovative tools and resources to help them make something even more wonderful.”

Outside of Apple-speak though we’re expecting the 35th annual developer’s conference to be a pretty special affair as it’s highly anticipated that Apple will finally be throwing their Cupertino hat into the AI ring.

Apple’s Easter Egg

It’s well known that Apple loves to tease us with invites to their events.

While this year’s invite gives nothing away, a Tweet was casually posted yesterday by Greg Joswiak telling us to ‘mark our calendars for WWDC24 as it was going to be Absolutely Incredible’. I’m sure you don’t need me to explain the obvious link there…

It’s a given that at WWDC we’ll be getting the latest iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS – with AI likely being added to many of those.

By Apple’s standards, they’ve been pretty open and transparent that iOS 18 will be radically different and be much more AI-focused with CEO Tim Cook even going so far as to say that ‘we’re investing quite a bit in AI’ and that Apple will be ‘breaking new ground on generative AI in 2024’ going on to say that;

“We believe it will unlock transformative opportunities for our users”.

As an Apple user what interests me the most is how Apple will implement AI throughout their range of OS – how will it differ from what Google and Samsung already offer?

Into the future

I’d always assumed with Apple taking so long to join the party that they were busy building their own Large Language Models (LLM) but it seems I was wide of the mark on that.

Mark German has been reporting recently that Apple is in conversation with Google, OpenAI and Baidu to partner with them. If that is true then it seems certain that Apple has kissed goodbye to offering its own chatbot in iOS 18 instead of preferring to use an existing tried and tested one such as Google’s Gemini or OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

One thing that I have been thinking through though is who would pay who? Let’s say Apple goes with Google’s Gemini – there’s an argument both ways…Apple needs the chatbot so should pay Google yet the possibility of Google getting Gemini on millions of iPhones is also a pretty persuasive argument.

Starting with Siri

Even the most diehard Apple fanboy would admit that Siri is not exactly Apple’s shining hour.

A complete overhaul of Siri must be the starting point you’d imagine with it being able to answer more complex questions and become more conversation-based. The overall take I’d hope will be for it to become a proper voice assistant and do just that – assist us.

Looking at the native suite of Apple apps it’s pretty easy to imagine how it could be brought into play with Messages, Music, Pages and Numbers – AI could even simplify using Shortcuts too.

I briefly tried Google’s Pixel Pro 8 last year and got a feeling of how easy it was to use across the device in all sorts of apps – the voice-to-text for instance and translation abilities were crazily good. But good as they were I wouldn’t just want a copy and paste into iPhone. Having tried Android I know I prefer iOS and I still want it to feel like an iPhone.

With more gen-AI coming to iOS 18 even apps such as Maps could get a makeover. Until now you can’t input self-chosen routes into Maps – you are locked into Apple’s baked-in options.

This feature has been on the wishlist for many Maps users for years and has been available on Google Maps for several years now – with iOS 18 that wish could soon become a reality.

iPhone 16 is ready & waiting

The next big event after WWDC will be the iPhone event in September.

According to the leaks & rumours, the A18 chip that will power the Pro models will feature larger dies with the specific intention of boosting artificial intelligence performance on the iPhone 16 Pro phones.

The A18 chip is reported to have a vastly upgraded Neural Engine with significantly more cores which goes hand-in-glove with the stories of generative AI coming to iPhone 16 – well the Pro models at least.

Interestingly though there is no word of any upgrades to the existing 6-core GPU currently found in the iPhone 15. Improvements were made to that last year with Apple claiming that the 6-core A17 Bionic chip was up to 20% faster than the 5-core A16 chip. iPhone 15 Pro models already support hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading for improved graphics rendering, which results in more realistic graphics in games.

Waiting game

So while Apple lets us wait yet longer for any iPad Pro news at least now we have the date for this year’s WWDC.

WWDC is always an important date in the Apple calendar and although there will be no Vision Pro moment at this year’s bun-fight, one thing looks certain – Apple will be part of the AI party good and proper.

The lead on from that of course is that it should drive up sales of the Pro iPhone 16’s when they come out in the fall.

Never a dull moment eh! What AI features would you most like to see in iOS 18 and how do you think Apple should go about bringing them to our iPhones?

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