iPhone Spotlight search is getting an AI boost — supercharged generative AI search coming to iOS 18

iPhone 15 Pro with a titanium finish running iOS 17
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

Apple is testing a new Spotlight Search boosted by AI, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

The report by Mark Gurman, says Apple is looking to overhaul Spotlight using LLMs to answer more complex questions. "The new version would be able to toggle between specific features within apps and answer complex questions based on data trained from large language models."

Currently, on iOS 17, Spotlight is limited to launching apps, searching the web, and pulling limited information from apps like Weather. This overhaul would make the feature far more useful, allowing users to get answers to questions without ever leaving their Home Screen. 

The improvements to Spotlight could launch alongside iOS 18 when the next version of the iPhone software is revealed at WWDC later this year. That said, we have no timeframes on when Apple will jump into the world of AI assistants, although you'd expect the company to do so before there's too much of a gap with its competitors.

New Android flagships, like the Samsung S24 Ultra, are heavily focusing on AI this year with improved photo editing suites and smart assistants — you'd expect Apple to make a move sooner rather than later.

Better Spotlight search?

As someone who uses Spotlight search on my iPhone every single day, the potential for improved search is incredibly promising. At the moment, Spotlight is my most used way to navigate the apps on my iPhone 15 Pro Max, but I'd love it if it were cleverer and able to answer my prompts.

iOS 18 is likely to be a huge update for the iPhone, and AI may very well be one of the key improvements that sees functionality like Spotlight and even Siri catch up with Google and Microsoft's search and smart assistants. 

With WWDC only a few months away, rumors of these new features will start to ramp up — I can't wait to see the final product.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.