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The 2 iOS 18 AI features I want the most from the Notes app

Published Apr 20th, 2024 10:33AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro on a shelf.
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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A report earlier this week claimed that Apple is going to bring new features to its Notes app via iOS 18, including support for voice recordings. Notes is my go-to text editor on iPhone and Mac, and it has been for years. The prospect of getting even more functionality out of the app once iOS 18 rolls out is very interesting to me.

But support for voice recordings will hopefully be smarter. I’m thinking of generative AI features built into the Notes app, which could make voice recordings very useful. Specifically, I’m thinking of two AI features that I hope Apple delivers: Voice transcription and summarization.

As I said before, I prefer writing in Notes over everything else. I have an active Microsoft 365 subscription that I won’t cancel anytime soon. But I’ll always choose Notes over Word.

Apple’s app is exactly what I need. It’s simple and fast, and all my notes are saved in the cloud. I can continue working on the same documents on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Everything is neatly organized, so I can use Notes for work and personal stuff.

Apple has improved the app in recent years, adding all sorts of features and formatting options. It’s not Word, but I don’t need Microsoft for most of this stuff.

GenAI feels like the obvious upgrade Notes should get in iOS 18 and macOS 15, especially if voice recording support is coming.

Given my day job, voice recordings are inevitable. I will routinely record interviews, but I might also record my thoughts. The real problem comes after that. I have to retrieve information from them and transcribe it.

I’ve been using Whisper recently for that, which is powered by AI tech developed by ChatGPT creator OpenAI. This process involves moving between different apps, and relying on a third-party AI service. And yes, I know Pixel phones transcribe voice recordings.

Working on PDF files in Notes on iPad.
Working on PDF files in Notes on iPad. Image source: Apple Inc.

That’s why I hope Notes will get built-in voice recording transcription support come iOS 18. And if it isn’t part of the initial rollout, I hope it’ll be available via an iOS 18.x upgrade.

I’d also want Apple’s AI to summarize those transcriptions in Notes. That would make dealing with interviews and personal recordings even easier.

I’d be even cooler if I could chat with the AI about the content it just transcribed, but I feel like I’d be pushing my luck here. I wouldn’t want to chat with a cloud-based AI about the contents of such transcriptions.

Still, the Notes app is the place where genAI features would work well, especially for this longtime iPhone user.

Finally, I’ll point out the obvious. Transcription and summarization of voice recordings should be on-device AI features in iOS 18. Those recordings might contain sensitive or personal information. The kind of data that should not reach any servers or help with the training of AI.

Again, nothing is official. But I hope Notes is getting the AI treatment in iOS 18.

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.