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Apple’s non-AI WWDC plans include Settings and Control Center revamps

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It sounds like Apple’s WWDC plans go beyond sprinkling AI fairy dust on everything (though that’s going to be a big part of it, too). Besides Siri gaining new AI-powered app control, the company also plans to overhaul things like the Settings apps for iOS and macOS, Control Center, Messages, Mail, and more.

A new, “cleaner” Settings app UI will mean better organization and improved search, Mark Gurman writes in his Power On Newsletter for Bloomberg today. He adds that a similar revamp is also coming to the macOS System Settings app.

Apple will also update Control Center, the slide-down menu of quick settings in iOS, with a new music widget and “improvements to how it operates smart home appliances.” Gurman didn’t specify what would change, but as handy as the Home widget is right now, I could certainly see room for improvement — being able to customize which devices show up there would be handy, for instance.

Messages will get a new feature that lets you animate individual words in a text message, Gurman writes, backing up a MacRumors report from Friday. He adds that Apple will also add new Tapback icons — the reaction emoji-style icons that appear when you long-press a message. And Apple will reportedly bring UI changes to Photos and update the Mail app with “several improvements,” as well.

Apple will apparently also announce visionOS 2.0, with native versions of first-party apps. Right now, visionOS only has iPad versions of Apple apps like Home, Calendar, Podcasts, and Pages.

Gurman reiterated, though, that Apple’s biggest focus at WWDC 2024 will be on AI. One big rumored feature is that without any setup from users or developers, Siri can offer to perform tasks within apps themselves based on your device’s analysis of what you’re up to — a little like Rabbit’s promised “Large Action Model” but with shades of Clippy. Some examples he’s reported include Siri offering meeting summaries, cropping photos for you, or moving notes in the Notes app from one folder to another.

Some AI features will reportedly come this fall when iOS 18 rolls out, according to Gurman. Past rumored iOS AI features include Voice Memos and Notes apps will get real-time voice transcription. There’s also that custom, AI-created emoji feature that may be coming. WWDC 2024 is set for June 10th, so we won’t have to wait long to learn what Apple has up its sleeve for its AI, iOS, and macOS updates this year.

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