6 things we expect from WWDC 2024: iOS 18, AI, and more

Apple logo for WWDC 2024.

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2024 kicks off today, and we’re expecting a lot of big announcements. Though there seems to be a lot of hype around Apple finally adding some AI smarts to the iPhone, that’s not all that we expect to see.

Here are some of the biggest things we’re expecting from the main Apple keynote at WWDC24.

Lots of AI

Hey Siri
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

A major focus for Apple this year will be AI, as it’s already behind competitors and needs a significant push to catch up. Other smartphone brands, such as Google and Samsung, have already incorporated AI into their mobile operating systems through the use of generative AI wallpapers and photo editing tools, text summarization and suggestions, call screening, and more.

Though the main focus of the AI integration will likely be on iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, it’s also very possible that it will make its way into the next iteration of macOS.

Some of the AI features that have been rumored to be coming include highly requested features, such as photo retouching (removing unwanted objects), voice memo transcriptions, suggested replies in emails and messages, auto-generated custom emojis based on message content, notification and text summarization, AI-generated Apple Music playlists, and more. AI could also be used to write in Pages, help with deck creation in Keynote, and even help developers code in Xcode.

AI assistants compared with ChatGPT.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

The AI integration could also make searching web pages in Safari better, and you may get faster searches with Spotlight. Siri will also reportedly get a large boost from the addition of large-language models (LLMs), which would make natural conversation capabilities and better user personalization possible.

Of course, competitors have been adding AI over several years, not just all at once. With Apple finally dipping its toes into the world of AI, it may take more than one software iteration to catch up to its rivals. These would just be the start of Apple’s AI-powered tools across multiple platforms, but more is certainly coming.

Though Apple could bring these AI tools to previous iPhones, it looks like you’ll need at least an iPhone 15 Pro to get them. This means that anything before that, or even the regular iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, may not get all of Apple’s AI tricks.

iOS 18 and iPadOS 18

The home screen on the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

While AI will be in the spotlight this year, there are other features that will be coming to iOS 18 and iPadOS 18.

A major change will be the addition of RCS support in iMessage, which was announced last year. With RCS in iMessage, conversations between iPhone and Android users will be a much-improved experience. With RCS, users can send high-resolution photos and videos, share location, see typing indicators and send read receipts, and more. This feature is long overdue, and it’s almost certainly showing up in iOS 18.

iOS 18 may also provide users with more customization options for the home screen, such as changing the colors of app icons and even allowing for blank spaces, rows, and columns between app icons. There may also be design changes, with inspiration from visionOS, but it won’t be a complete overhaul.

There are a few smaller changes coming with iOS 18, too. Calendar will have better integration with Reminders, so you can view your reminders and interact with them right from the Calendar app instead of having to go into Reminders. Notes could allow users to record voice memos directly in the app, with the audio embedded into a note. Maps could be getting topographic maps and the option to save custom routes.

The Control Center may also get some design tweaks, but specifics are unknown. The Settings app will also see some streamlined changes. And don’t forget that iPadOS 18 will finally add a calculator app after 14 years.

watchOS 11

The Apple Watch Series 9 showing apps on the screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

While there have been some big rumors about AI and iOS 18, things have been a bit quieter on the watchOS 11 front. In fact, we may see a “fairly minor” update for the Apple Watch this year.

Since AI will be a big part of this WWDC, we can definitely expect some of those AI smarts to trickle down to our wrists. With AI integration, Siri should see big improvements with LLMs, which could mean better responsiveness and actual usefulness. And with RCS support coming to iOS 18, it’s pretty certain to follow with watchOS 11.

macOS 15

The MacBook Pro open on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Many of the AI features we expect on iOS 18 should also appear in macOS 15, Apple’s next major software update for the Mac.

Similar to watchOS 11, there have not been many leaks about what to expect from macOS 15. But it’s very likely that Apple will follow with a California-themed name, with the following possibilities: Redwood, Grizzly, Sequoia, Mammoth, Pacific, Rincon, Farallon, Miramar, Condor, Diablo, or Shasta.

Again, macOS 15 should share some AI tools with iOS 18, like improved Siri with LLMs, intelligent search in Safari, auto-generated emoji in iMessage (along with RCS support), AI photo editing tools, AI features in Keynote, Numbers, and Pages, and more. There are also some whispers of a new and overhauled Calculator app to make it more in line with the iPhone and upcoming iPad versions, and it could also have integration with Notes and a history tape sidebar.

In recent years, Apple made some controversial changes to the Settings app on macOS, but there may be a new organizational system based on priority and overall importance in macOS 15. Hopefully, this isn’t going to make things worse.

Apple Vision Pro updates

Apple Vision Pro
Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Apple Vision Pro launched with a lot of fanfare, but that seemed to quickly die down after the first month or so. WWDC is certain to bring us visionOS 2, the first major software update for the Apple Vision Pro.

When Apple Vision Pro launched, it was missing some native Apple apps. A few of the apps missing on visionOS 1.0 are Books, Calendar, Maps, News, Reminders, Podcasts, Shortcuts, Voice Memos, and a few more. Though you could run these in compatibility mode, they were not native to visionOS. Apple could add a few more native apps in visionOS 2.

Other new features that could be coming include live captions for all speech. This is an accessibility feature that will be especially helpful for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it’s also useful for those who just prefer having captions available at all times.

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg also said that visionOS 2 will “address missing features from the first iteration.” Though the language is very vague, it could address simple things that should have been included from the get-go. One of those missing features was the ability to rearrange the order of apps on the home screen.

Some lines of code also revealed that the Mindfulness app could get an update to support a new “Respiration Tracking” feature. It’s unclear if this would work entirely on the Vision Pro or require an Apple Watch, but it’s still something to keep an eye out for.

Lastly, the Apple Vision Pro only launched in the U.S. so far. Some rumors have speculated that it could finally be expanding into other markets soon.

New Apple hardware?

The Mac mini on a wooden table.
Digital Trends

Apple’s WWDC is usually always focused on software. This year, we’re expecting some big changes across all of its platforms with AI integration. As such, it’s unlikely that we will see new hardware at all this year. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman certainly doesn’t think so, reporting that WWDC 2024 is unlikely to have any new hardware announcements.

However, Apple still needs to update several of its products in the Mac lineup, including the Mac Studio, Mac mini, and Mac Pro. Apple could surprise us and provide a refresh for those devices with an M3 or even M4 chipset, but with a heavy focus on software, those could also be revealed at a later event.