Has Apple created an answer to Microsoft Copilot? Here's how AI could change Safari in iOS 18

iPhone 13 mini in hand
(Image credit: Future)

You don't need to have been following along too closely to know that Apple is expected to bring some big new features to iOS 18 when it is released later this year. The talk of the town has Apple adding some fancy new AI features to the mix, and while there is a hope that Siri will get some much-needed improvements, it would appear that the new features will go beyond the beleaguered digital assistant.

We've been hearing murmurings of various new features in recent weeks as Apple gets ready to premiere the new software at WWDC on June 10, but cold, hard details have been hard to come by. The dam seems to be starting to break, though, and now a new report has hinted at new features coming to the Safari web browser that could give iPhone users access to something akin to Microsoft Edge's Copilot AI tools.

Copilot is Microsoft's all-encompassing term for the numerous AI features that are now baked into Windows and its other software, and it's what would have been a real boon if Windows Phone was still around (RIP, that misunderstood tiled interface). It's an example of where Apple needs to go to drag iOS and Siri into the future, and this report suggests that Safari will be at the forefront of those plans with big new website summarization features. And, interestingly, the ability to actually edit what websites show users on the fly.

The web, powered by AI

The big news comes from an AppleInsider report which, citing unnamed sources, says that Apple is working on a number of features that could change the way people read the web on their iPhones.

The feature that seems the most obvious, and one that people could potentially make the most use of, is a new AI-enhanced text summarization feature that will leverage "Apple's on-device AI technology — specifically the Ajax language-learning model — to identify topics and key phrases within a webpage for which to base the summarization." The result will be an option for people to have entire websites distilled into key points or takeaways, similar to features offered by ChatGPT 4 and other services.

Perhaps more interesting however is Web Eraser, a feature that will allow people to select entire chunks of webpages that they no longer want to see. Those sections could be ads, or auto-playing videos, for example. Selecting an area of a webpage will tell Safari to strip it out the next time the page loads — going a step beyond existing ad-blocking technologies and making the process much easier to boot.

"When visiting a web page with previously erased content, Safari will inform the user that the page has been modified to reflect their desired changes," the report explains. "The browser will also give the user the option to revert changes and restore the webpage to its initial, unaltered state."

While details of exactly which AI features are coming to iOS 18 had been hard to come by, some reports had suggested Apple was aiming for changes that would make people's everyday lives better. These changes definitely fall into that category, with other potential improvements being the ability to have iMessage formulate responses based on context, for example.

Other changes expected in iOS include updates for Mail, Notes, and other key apps. The update isn't expected to ship to the public until September, but we'll get a feel for what's in store when Apple shows iOS 18 off to the world at WWDC next month.

More from iMore

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.