Apple Intelligence: What devices and features will actually be supported?

What will iPhone 15 Pro owners get, and what's in iOS 18 for everyone else?

Screenshot (Apple)

Apple Intelligence is coming, but not to every iPhone out there. In fact, you'll need to have a device with an A17 Pro processor or M-series chip to use many of the features unveiled during the Apple Intelligence portion of WWDC 2024. That means only iPhone 15 Pro owners (and those with an M-series iPad or MacBook) will get the iOS 18-related Apple Intelligence (AI?) updates like Genmoji, Image Playground, the redesigned Siri and Writing Tools. Then there are things like Math Notes and Smart Script on iPadOS 18 and the new features in Messages coming via iOS 18 that will be arriving for anyone that can upgrade to the latest platforms. It's confusing, and the best way to anticipate what you're getting is to know what processor is in your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

It's not evident exactly why older devices using an A16 chip (like the iPhone 14 Pro) won't work with Apple Intelligence, given its neural engine seems more than capable compared to the M1. A closer look at the specs sheets of those two processors show that the main differences appear to be in memory and GPU prowess. Specifically, the A16 Bionic can only support a maximum of 6GB of RAM onboard while the M1 starts at 8GB and goes up to 16GB. In fact, all the supported devices have at least 8GB of RAM and that could hint at why your iPhone 14 Pro will not be able to handle making Genmojis, perhaps.

Though it might not seem quite fair that owners of a relatively recent iPhone won't get to use Apple Intelligence features, you'll still be getting a healthy amount of updates via iOS 18. Here's a quick breakdown of what is coming via iOS 18, and what's only coming if your iPhone supports Apple Intelligence.

Basically everything described during the iOS portion of yesterday's WWDC 2024 keynote is coming to all iPhones (that can update to iOS 18). That includes the customizable home screen, Control Center, dedicated Passwords app, redesigned Photos app, new Tapback emoji reactions, text effects, scheduled sending and more. Messages via Satellite is only coming to iPhone 14 or newer, and you'll be able to send text messages, emojis and Tapbacks, but not images or videos.

You'll also be tied to the same satellite service plan that you got at the time of your purchase of an iPhone 14. If you bought your iPhone 14 in January 2024, you received a free two-year subscription to be able to use Emergency SOS via Satellite and other satellite communication features that now include texting. That means that to continue texting people via satellite after January 2026, you'll need to start paying for a plan.

There are a whole host of updates coming with iOS 18 that Apple didn't quite cover in its keynote either, and I'll be putting up a separate guide about that in a bit. But suffice to say that apps like Maps, Safari, Calendar and Journal are getting new functions that, together with the other changes mentioned so far, add up to a meaty OS upgrade.

In short, all of them. If you have an iPhone 15 Pro or an iPad (or Mac) with an M-series chip, you'll get a redesigned Siri, Genmoji and Image Playground, as well as writing tools baked into the system. That means tools like proofreading, summarizing or helping you adjust your tone in apps like Mail, Notes and Keynote are limited to the AI-supported devices. If you don't have one of those, you'll get none of this.

The redesigned Siri, which is only coming through Apple Intelligence, will be able to understand what's on your screen to contextually answer your queries. If you've been texting with your friend about which baseball player is the best, you can ask Siri (by long pressing the power button or just saying Hey Siri) "How many homeruns has he done?" The assistant will know who "he" is in this context, and understand you're referring to the athlete, not the friend you're chatting with.

Apple Intelligence is also what brings the ability to type to Siri — and you can invoke this keyboard to talk to the assistant by double tapping the bottom of the screen.

This also means that new glowing edge animation that appears when Siri is triggered is limited to the Apple Intelligence-supported devices. You'll still be looking at that little orb at the bottom of your screen when you talk to the assistant on an iPhone 14 Pro or older.

There are loads more features coming via Apple Intelligence, which appears to be set for release later this year.

Catch up here for all the news out of Apple's WWDC 2024.

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