Apple's iPhone AI will reportedly be optional

iOS 18's AI enhancements won't be compulsory – and some of them won't be imminent either

Siri
(Image credit: Apple)

While AI is the big buzzword in tech right now, not everybody is convinced it's a great idea – and that means the latest report about Apple's AI plans could be good news. While Apple is expected to announce a deal with OpenAI to include its tech in iOS 18 at WWDC next week, Apple is reportedly planning to make its AI enhancements optional: if you want them, you'll need to opt in.

That's according to Bloomberg, which says there's something of an ideological battle brewing inside Apple. Some insiders apparently have a "philosophical aversion" to the idea of an AI chatbot in an Apple anything, while others are concerned that a chatbot could cause serious damage to Apple's brand if it started churning out some of the nonsense or dangerous advice that Google's AI summaries are currently being slated for.

That appears to have led to a compromise: Apple's AI features won't be installed if you don't want them.

What we know about Apple's AI plans

In addition to the deal with OpenAI, Apple is reportedly talking to Google about integrating its Gemini into its OS. It appears that Apple is looking at AI on an item by item basis, shopping around to find what it considers to be the best option for each kind of feature. 

Apple is also working on its own large language model, which suggests that any deals with third parties may be temporary: Apple famously wants to own and control any key technologies its products depend on, and AI would definitely fall into that category. Apple's own systems are expected to power Siri improvements such as better conversational input and information provision but in the long term Apple is reportedly considering the use of AI in robotic devices that it's currently developing, such as the previously rumoured iPad-like device on a movable robotic arm.

While we're expecting to see some of Apple's AI-enhanced features at next week's WWDC, the smarter Siri may not arrive with the final release of iOS 18 later this year. Apple reportedly plans to launch them in an iOS 18 update in early to mid 2025.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).