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iOS 18 beta will bring Apple AI to the iPhone, but I might not install it

Published Jun 10th, 2024 11:10AM EDT
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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I’ve been running iOS betas on my iPhone ever since Apple started the program, with one exception. iOS 17 wasn’t exciting enough to warrant installing it on my iPhone 14 Pro last year. With the iOS 18 beta coming this week, I can’t wait to get it going on my iPhone. That’s because I can’t wait to try Apple’s AI features.

On Monday, the company will unveil a new “Apple Intelligence” suite of AI tools built into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and all its other operating systems at WWDC 2024. If reports are accurate, we’re in for a few exciting developments. I expect some of these features to come to the iPhone as soon as the first iOS 18 beta is out.

However, some of the AI features Apple built into iOS 18 will require newer hardware than my iPhone 14 Pro. Therefore, there’s a chance I won’t install the iOS 18 beta this summer. Instead, I might not experience iOS 18 until after I’ve upgraded to the upcoming iPhone 16 this fall.

A last-minute iOS 18 leak said Apple fans will need an iPhone 15 Pro or newer to get the most out of Apple’s new AI features. The report came from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. He made similar claims a few days earlier. The reporter said that many of the on-device AI features coming to iOS 18 will require an iPhone 15 Pro or later to work.

I explained at the time that it was great news. If that report was accurate, the cheapest iPhone 16 model will be able to run all on-device AI features. I hadn’t considered the obvious implications for the near future, though. I might be willing to buy an iPhone 16 rather than a Pro this fall, but my iPhone 14 Pro might not be good enough for the iOS 18 beta.

Gurman is back with a report on the possibilities AI brings in terms of new hardware prospects for Apple. That’s where he reiterated the need for an iPhone 15 Pro or later to experience the AI features Apple baked into iOS 18. Here’s what he said in the Power On newsletter:

For Apple to get [to the future of AI hardware], it will need to shift from the hardware-software-services approach and become a hardware-AI-cloud company. The upcoming iPhone 16 line will be a step in that direction. Every version of the phone will support the entirety of Apple’s new AI feature suite. (With the current iPhone 15 line, users will need the Pro version to fully take advantage of the AI capabilities.) And the features themselves will be delivered partly via the cloud.

If these new services capture the imagination of customers, it will spur a surge of iPhone sales. Anyone with a device below the iPhone 15 Pro will feel locked out of the new capabilities — potentially bringing a so-called supercycle of upgrades.

His prediction sounds starker than his tweet from a few weeks ago. At the time, he said that many of Apple’s on-device AI features would require an iPhone 15 Pro or later.

I can’t help but wonder whether some of the on-device AI features that can’t run on iPhone 15 and older phones will be moved to cloud processing. Some of Gurman’s reports did say that iOS 18 will be able to determine whether an AI feature can run locally or needs the cloud.

Apple will want to bring AI features to as many users as possible, even if they have older hardware. If cloud processing can make that happen, I’ll definitely want to install the iOS 18 beta on my iPhone 14 Pro. Then again, it all depends on the AI features that Apple unveils on Monday. I suspect some of them will require on-device processing for better privacy.

What I’m getting at is that AI will be a deciding factor in whether I try the iOS 18 beta as soon as possible or wait until September. Then again, the inclusion of ChatGPT into the iPhone’s operating system is also a good reason to upgrade to the beta. I’ll have to wait and see.

I’ll also say that iOS 18 is rumored to bring a few key non-AI features that I’ve been looking forward to. They might be enough to convince me to try iOS 18 when the beta launches.

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.