At WWDC in June, Apple, as always, will announce new versions of its operating systems for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. (There may also be an update to Vision Pro, but that's another story.) This is very important for software developers, who will learn about new system features they can use for their apps, but it may be a bit dry for them hardware owners. Except the whole thing seems a lot more exciting this year.
In the Q&A section of his latest newsletter, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman describes the impending iOS 18 software update for the iPhone as potentially the biggest ever for the device.
“I've been told that the new operating system is viewed within the company as one of the biggest — if not the biggest — iOS updates in the company's history,” he said.
What that magnitude would actually entail is less clear at this point. Gorman pledged to reveal more in due course but kept things brief in this exchange. However, fortunately, we already know a lot about the ways in which iOS 18 will be a very big deal, or as Gorman put it in November, “ambitious and compelling.” RCS cross-platform messaging support is expected to arrive in iOS 18 and will make a big difference in interactions between iPhone and Android owners. Apple is only doing this reluctantly, but as we've pointed out elsewhere, this is a win for almost everyone, including Apple fans.
As for the hapless Siri, which we've repeatedly criticized, the launch of iOS 18 may be the moment it finally starts pulling its weight. It may seem like the company has neglected Siri for years, but behind the scenes, it has been working on a big AI strategy that is expected to pay off in improving Siri's performance, among other things. Generative AI in particular could be a game-changer for the beleaguered voice assistant.
There are still more than four months until June, and software products can change before launch in a much shorter time than hardware due to the lack of a supply chain. In other words, Apple's plans could change. But most pundits expect June's Worldwide Developers Conference (WDC) to be a big deal for iPhone owners. The “if” seems to have settled in, and we are fascinated to learn more about the “how.”