Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

ChatGPT is coming to iOS 18, but ChatGPT Plus will still be better

Published May 30th, 2024 9:34AM EDT
iPhone 15 Plus Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

We’re less than two weeks from Apple’s big WWDC 2024 event, where artificial intelligence will be at the center of everything. GenAI features will be built into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15. Most of them will run locally on the device. Apple should also release a smarter Siri that will supposedly handle more complex queries. But that Siri might not work on Apple tech alone. OpenAI appears to be the likeliest partner for iOS 18’s chatbot abilities.

That’s what we already expect, thanks to the flurry of reports detailing Apple’s efforts to match the AI capabilities of its rivals.

A new report sheds more information on Apple’s supposed partnership with OpenAI. Apparently, the deal has been in the making for months. Not only that, but Apple may use OpenAI’s ChatGPT language models to power some of the most complex new Siri features.

The deal supposedly has Microsoft worried, even though an OpenAI partnership with Apple could be lucrative for Microsoft as well. The software giant is the biggest investor in OpenAI.

But if the report is accurate, I can’t help but wonder what the ChatGPT-powered experience might be like, and whether it’ll be enough to make me stop using ChatGPT Plus as a standalone product. ChatGPT is my go-to chatbot, and I’m convinced I’ll keep using it even after it gets iOS 18 integration.

According to The Information (via 9to5Mac), Apple began meeting with OpenAI as early as mid-2023. That’s several months before rumors emerged that Apple was searching for an AI partner.

The report says Apple and OpenAI reached a deal for its machine learning engineers to have access to the ChatGPT APIs for internal testing. That’s how Apple got Siri working with ChatGPT:

In those tests, Apple engineers connected ChatGPT to Siri, creating impressive demonstrations of Siri handling more complex queries than usual, including by better understanding the context of what users were saying.

I’m a longtime iPhone user who has been mocking Siri for years. I hope these claims are accurate and Apple will indeed make Siri smarter with the help of a third-party large language model.

The report says Apple wants to let Siri handle more complex questions — the kind you’d ask ChatGPT. OpenAI showed Apple how to potentially turn Siri into a chatbot. The revamped assistant could be more responsive, sound more natural, and even provide real-time translations. All it needs is ChatGPT access, apparently.

As for privacy, Apple will want to make it clear to users when a Siri response is coming from ChatGPT.

GPT-4o is a new multimodal model that will power ChatGPT Free and Plus.
GPT-4o is a new multimodal model that will power ChatGPT Free and Plus. Image source: OpenAI

I have high hopes that Apple will build strong privacy protections into the AI features coming to iOS 18, including the Siri chatbot.

A separate report from the same blog notes that Apple has a plan in place to secure user data from AI queries on iOS 18 devices reaching its servers. I’d assume ChatGPT-powered Siri requests would get those protections as well. But it’s all speculation until Apple actually explains how it’ll all work.

While I’d prefer ChatGPT integration in iOS 18 over Gemini, it’s also likely that the current Siri experience isn’t good enough in the age of AI. If Siri gets chatbot functionality, we’ll need a separate Siri app in iOS. I’d want to keep track of some conversations so I can return to them the way I can with ChatGPT.

Without a chat history functionality immediately available, I might not use Siri as much, even if ChatGPT powers it. Instead, I’d revert to ChatGPT, which is available as a standalone app in iOS. The whole point of a chatbot is having ongoing conversations with AI about the topics you need help with.

I say that without actually knowing what Apple’s chatbot implementation in iOS 18 will look like. None of the reports we got on the matter have detailed it. Then again, Apple is undoubtedly aware of the current ChatGPT experience and user expectations. It’ll want to match and build on those experiences.

Even still, there’s no way Apple will adopt the entire GPT-4o experience that OpenAI introduced in early May. I’ll keep using the ChatGPT app so I can have voice mode and all the great new multimodal features that are coming soon to the app.

Whatever the case, and whatever chatbot Apple might have chosen for iOS 18, we’ll learn everything about it on June 10th during Apple’s opening keynote from WWDC 2024.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.