Apple Could Reportedly Offer AI Features On-Device With iOS 18, But That Might Come at a Cost


Apple might be planning a big update 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 for the their smartphones at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024, which will be held in June. Interestingly, the company could make all AI functions available on the device, rather than keeping them in the cloud. In particular, a report last week highlighted that Apple could introduce a new AI-based browsing feature for Safari that will allow users to summarize web pages.

The information comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman's Power On newsletter, where he answered the question of how many of Apple's planned AI functions could be cloud-based. According to Gurman, not much! The tech giant could make all the features available locally and process them on the same device. This move, if true, could have both pros and cons, depending on how the iPhone maker handles issues with AI features.

Having fully local AI functions is ideal for data privacy and security. This means that any data shared with the app or system feature never leaves the user's iPhone, and it is unlikely that the information will ever reach a third party. This makes the device more secure and users also don't have to worry about their sensitive data.

However, there is a downside. Actually, there are a couple of them. First, AI computers require significantly high amounts of processing power compared to the typical tasks performed by the device. Most large language models run GPU-based inference on computers. Even today's smartphones are working to add special “AI processors” equipped with a combination of powerful CPUs, GPUs and NPUs (Neural Processing Unit). However, running complex algorithms locally on the device can be a difficult task. That's why Samsung gives users the choice to run certain Galaxy AI features on the device or through the servers.

For Apple to bring some of these features locally can be a difficult task. And this brings us to the second drawback. If Apple remains committed to providing only AI features on the device, it may not be able to provide some of the features offered by competitors. For example, Galaxy AI has an interpreter feature that translates a verbal conversation between two speakers near the phone in real time. Similarly, Oppo offers AI imaging capabilities to users in China. Will Apple be able to optimize these features on the device? And will he be able to do it fast enough to keep up with the competition? WWDC 2024 could answer some of these questions.

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