Apple's major iPhone AI upgrade could have no cloud processing — initial wave of iOS 18 features "will work entirely on device"

Copilot on iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple’s first wave of iOS 18 AI features could work without the need for cloud processing, which could bring great benefits for privacy and speed.

First reported by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg in his ‘Power On’ newsletter, it explained how the AI features would work. 

“It looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on-device,” Gurman revealed. “That means there’s no cloud processing component to the company’s large language model, the software that powers the new capabilities. This approach comes with some benefits, including speed and privacy.”  

He went on to say that the main drawback with these features being on-device, will be no access to the higher-powered cloud systems that can run more powerful AI algorithms — which can result in more detailed answers to a user’s queries, or more complicated tasks being carried out. However, it’s possible that this is where Apple’s alleged deal with Google’s Gemini AI model comes in, so that it can offer features like generative AI for images and prompts in iOS 18 via Google’s cloud-based AI model for some specific tasks.

We’ve been hearing plenty of rumors about the latest iOS software update for iPhone this year and what it may entail for AI — such as Siri being able to deal with requests in a faster and more reliable way. Apps like Messages may also take advantage of Apple’s AI model, which could suggest different generative replies to family members.

iOS 18 is set to be announced at the WWDC 2024 keynote on June 10, where Apple is also expected to announce macOS 15, iPadOS 18, watchOS 11, and tvOS 18.

Did you know you can try on-device AI features right now? 

PrivateLLM running on iPhone, as well as Shortcuts

(Image credit: Future)

You can already get a taste of what on-device AI features may be like by trying out Private LLM, an on-device AI app that you can download right now. For $9.99 / £9.99, you can use the app which has similar functionality to Microsoft’s Copilot and OpenAI models — with the queries being handled entirely on your iPhone.

Be aware though, that it’s a 1.1GB download, and your handset may get hot to the touch after using Private LLM. Regardless, it’s a brief taster into how iOS 18 could work with on-device AI features, as well as how Siri could be a smarter assistant with the ability to handle more detailed queries than ever before.

Petey and MacWhisper already offer AI features on your iPad and Mac respectively, though these need to access certain cloud platforms in order for your requests to be processed. With Apple’s method, having its LLM (Large Language Model) on-device can mean that your queries, and the generated results, will be privately handled without going to an external platform.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.