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iOS 18: What to expect from Apple’s WWDC event as it reveals AI for the iPhone

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Apple is set to hold its biggest software event of the year: its Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC. And there is expected to be one big thing on the schedule.

WWDC is the event where Apple updates every one of its products with new software and features. As such, it will see iOS 18 for the iPhone as well as a range of other new operating system versions.

All will be revealed on 10 June, when Apple screens its opening keynote live around the world.

But here is everything we know about WWDC 2024 ahead of the event.

Artificial intelligence

AI is expected to be the central theme of this year’s event. Apple doesn’t usually give much away about its launches, but has already flagged this in advance, with marketing boss Greg Joswiak treating that the event will be “Absolutely Incredible”. (The capital letters are his.)

Apple had long resisted using the word AI, and though it has been introducing similar technologies in both its hardware and software, it has typically marketed them as being “proactive” or based on “machine learning”. Now – after urging from investors and commentators who feared it was being left behind – it seems ready to use the word and more explicitly announce those updates.

While it’s nearly certain that there will be a strong AI focus, it is less clear what those AI updates will be. But it appears that Apple will largely keep its approach of focusing on seasoning its operating system with new AI upgrades, rather than adding spectacular but not necessarily useful new features.

Those might include automatically generated Apple Music playlists, automatic assistance with writing and coding, and an improved Siri that is both better at conversing with people and getting things done.

Apple might also offer more dramatic generative AI tools, and rumours have suggested that it has been in discussion with both Google and ChatGPT creators OpenAI to build them. That might let people generate an image by asking for one, for instance.

It’s likely that many of Apple’s products will get their own AI-infused updates – even if it’s just in the form of an improved Siri. But Apple usually focuses on bringing new updates to the iPhone first, and then rolls them out to other platforms such as the iPad.

Other software upgrades

AI will be the main focus, but probably won’t be the sole upgrade.

The iPhone for instance is rumoured to be getting a more customisable home screen. That would let users place the apps wherever they want them, for instance, rather than being forced to drop them in the existing line-up grid.

Apple tends to update every one of its products at WWDC – so expect new features for the Mac, Watch, Apple TV, Apple Vision Pro and HomePod. But rumours have focused on the new AI tools, and it is not yet clear what those upgrades might bring.

Vision Pro in the UK and elsewhere

Apple first introduced its augmented reality headset at WWDC last year, and it arrived in February. Then, it said that it was on its way to other countries, but there has been no sign of it yet.

Numerous reports have suggested that it is finally on its way, however. Tim Cook has said that it is coming to China this year, and job ads suggest that Apple is preparing to offer it in the UK, Australia, Japan and elsewhere.

WWDC would offer a great opportunity to announce the headsets public release.

Apple is also expected to offer the new version of VisionOS, the operating system that powers the headset. And the company has been lightly criticised for failing to keep momentum after the release by launching new immersive content for the headset, so it might unveil some of that too.

New hardware

WWDC is Apple’s software event, and that tends to get most of the time during its announcements. But it sometimes uses the spotlight to introduce new hardware as well, and tends to focus on professional tools when it does so.

There are still a range of products that are yet to be upgraded to Apple’s M3 series of chips, including the Mac Studio and Mac Pro, both of which received updates last year. But rumours have suggested that they might skip them entirely, and get the M4 chip that arrived in the new iPad Pro earlier this year.

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