Everything Apple will announce at WWDC today: Apple Intelligence, Siri, iOS 18, more

Apple is expected to unveil its latest AI innovations along with updates to iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, and the rest of its software ensemble.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor and  Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Apple park logo on bags
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

We're just hours away from finally learning how Apple plans to add a dose of AI to its core products -- and where it'll stack up compared to Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft, all of which have already hosted their spring developer conferences.

Also: Live updates: Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2024, including iOS 18, Siri, AI, and more

This year's Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, will take place starting Monday, June 10, and wrap up on June 14. The opening day is when the big keynote happens, with CEO Tim Cook and several executives taking the stage to announce the for-consumer updates. The days following are dedicated to developer workshops and private demo sessions.

Naturally, developers and members of the press will be in attendance at Apple Park in Cupertino throughout the week, while everyone else can catch a live stream of the opening keynote, either on Apple's website or YouTube channel.

What is expected at WWDC 2024?

WWDC is typically the event in which Apple takes the wraps off the next major versions of its assorted operating systems. That means we should anticipate demos of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, MacOS 15, WatchOS 11, tvOS 18, and VisionOS 2.0. 

The event provides developers with access to experts, along with highlights of new tools and features that will help them create new and/or better apps for the Apple ecosystem.

Also: 10 things I'd like to see in VisionOS 2.0

"We're so excited to connect with developers from around the world for an extraordinary week of technology and community at WWDC24," Susan Prescott, Apple's VP of Worldwide Developer Relations, said in a news release. "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."

1. You'll be hearing AI (or Apple Intelligence) a lot

iPhone with Siri
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

This year's WWDC promises something extra, namely a spotlight on Apple's endeavors into AI. With companies such as OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google already infusing their products with generative AI, Apple is clearly behind in the race. Even if consumers aren't longing for AI enhancements to all their usual apps and services, investors are anxiously waiting to see what the company can pull off in this new era of technology.

To catch up, Apple reportedly has been working on its own in-house AI tech to add to the next-generation iPhone and other products. On tap at WWDC might be AI-based assistance for services like Apple Music and a major and much-needed overhaul for Siri. Such advances will reportedly be cataloged under the branding "Apple Intelligence," the company's wordplay for AI.

Also: What is 'Apple Intelligence': How it works with on-device and cloud-based AI

Apple Intelligence features, unlike the flashy image and video generation tools typically associated with AI, are more subtle and embedded into daily apps and use cases. For example, Notes, Email, and Messages are on the list to receive a new summarization feature that recaps bodies of text. The Voice Memos app will also support transcription and summarization. Such features will require opt-in, meaning users must agree to use them before they work on background.

Apple has also allegedly been seeking a partner for outside help, possibly teaming up with OpenAI to bring its chatbot expertise to iOS and Google to bring Gemini-powered AI features. Just a few months ago, the company purchased a Canadian startup firm called DarwinAI, which has designed ways to make AI systems smaller and more efficient.

More recently, rumors have suggested that some new AI features will include more intelligent and helpful searches in Safari, AI-generated emojis based on conversations in Messages, and an AI-powered photo editing app similar to Google's Magic Eraser. It's worth noting that such features are believed to only function on the more recent Apple products, including the iPhone 15 Pro with its A17 Pro chip and M-series iPads and MacBooks.

2. Don't forget the other acronym: RCS

iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra with home screens on
Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

To the surprise of many, except for the European Commission, Apple announced last year that iPhones would eventually support Rich Communication Services (RCS), a protocol already adopted by Android phones. Adding this technology should alleviate key pain points when messaging between the two operating systems, including the lack of typing indicators, disorientated group chats, and quality loss when sending media files.

Also: DOJ sues Apple: What it could mean for iPhone users and iOS developers

The decision to bring RCS to the iPhone came after mounting pressure from the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which stressed cross-platform compatibility. While a more recent statement from Google suggested that Apple would integrate RCS later this fall, highlighting the transition at WWDC could potentially help Apple's defense against the DOJ's antitrust lawsuit, filed in March. Regardless of when and how Apple chooses to announce the new feature, it'll be big news for both iOS and Android users.

3. MacOS 15, iPadOS 18, WatchOS 11, VisionOS 2, tvOS 18

Apple Macbook with OS 15
Adam Breeden/ZDNET

Alongside iOS, expect AI feature upgrades across Apple's software portfolio, including the now two-year-old VisionOS. Considering the company's push to reposition the MacBook as the go-to AI PC, Apple will likely carry over some of the new Siri and AI functionalities for iOS introduced earlier in the event to MacOS 15. Likewise, iPadOS 18 is expected to receive an AI makeover that brings improved multitasking capabilities -- possibly to Stage Manager -- and a new eye-tracking accessibility feature.

As for VisionOS and Apple's constant pursuit of marketing its $3,500 Vision Pro headset, expect subtle, quality-of-life enhancements, including the ability to move apps around in the home screen, more first-party services, and a more flexible user experience in general.

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