Apple to unveil AI-enabled Safari browser alongside new operating systems

Posted:
in iOS edited May 14

Apple is testing a version of its Safari web browser that includes UI tweaks, advanced content blocking features, and a new AI-powered tool dubbed Intelligent Search, AppleInsider has learned.

A Safari address bar showing a tool dropdown with mentions of 'Erase' and 'Intelligent Browsing' options. A Safari icon is on the left with the text 'Safari 18' below it.
Safari getting new AI tools in iOS 18



The software -- expected to debut as Safari 18 later in 2024 -- is currently undergoing evaluation alongside internal builds of Apple's next-generation operating system updates, namely iOS 18 and macOS 15, according to people familiar with the matter. Should all of the new features make it to the release candidate stage, users will be treated to a new user interface (UI) for customizing popular page controls, a "Web eraser" feature, and AI-driven content summarization tools.

Intelligent Search - AI-enhanced browsing and text summarization



Engineers evaluating the latest builds of Safari 18 can find a toggle for the new page controls menu within the browser's address bar. The menu consolidates -- and provides quick access to -- old and new page control tools, among them being the browser's new "Intelligent Search" feature.

A screenshot of Arc Search on iPhone with a summary of an article from AppleInsider
Safari's new intelligent browsing feature could mimic features like Arc Browser's article summary



This feature is not automatically enabled in test builds of Safari 18 and instead requires manual activation from the page controls menu. Once enabled, it's believed the tool leverages Apple's on-device AI technology -- specifically the Ajax language-learning model -- to identify topics and key phrases within a webpage for which to base the summarization.

In selecting key phrases, Apple's LLM software identifies sentences that provide explanations or describe the structure of objects, depending on the text in question. Words repeated within a text and key sentences are recognized as text topics.

These early indications suggest Apple is striving to deliver text summarization alongside Safari 18 later this year, though the exact implementation of this feature remains fuzzy.

Apple's text summarization features could be a response to rival generative AI tools, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT. But Apple's on-device models and technologies like Private Relay could make the experience much more secure for users. Intelligent Search is also likely to be the same AI browser assistant that one X user hinted at a couple of weeks back.

Web Eraser for better content-blocking



Also accessible from the new page controls menu is a feature Apple is testing called "Web Eraser." As its name would imply, it's designed to allow users to remove, or erase, specific portions of web pages, according to people familiar with the feature.

The feature is expected to build upon existing privacy features within Safari and will allow users to erase unwanted content from any webpage of their choosing. Users will have the option to erase banner ads, images, text or even entire page sections, all with relative ease.

A screenshot of 1Blocker's element blocking feature that removes selected parts of a webpage
Erase parts of a webpage by blocking specific HTML like an existing feature in 1Blocker



The erasure is said to be persistent, rather than limited to a browsing session. This means that Safari will remember the changes even after the original tab or window has been closed.

When visiting a web page with previously erased content, Safari will inform the user that the page has been modified to reflect their desired changes. The browser will also give the user the option to revert changes and restore the webpage to its initial, unaltered state.

As for where Apple got the inspiration for Web Eraser, the company could have Sherlocked the feature from the third-party app 1Blocker. The application features a similar way of erasing ads, where users would tap ads to make them disappear.

Updated UI will move key tools into one easy location



The new page controls menu referenced throughout this article will attempt to offer Safari 18 users quick and easy access to several options previously located across different menus and the Share Sheet. Running on pre-release versions of macOS 15, for instance, the menu also pulls in the "Aa" menu common on existing iPadOS versions of the browser. These include zoom options, webpage settings for privacy controls, content blocking options, extension shortcuts, and access to the new AI and erasure tools.

A mockup image of desktop Safari with an iPad-like menu that includes AI and erase features.
The new Safari menu will feature easier access to multiple features previously found in the Share Sheet and Address Bar



These various options existed previously on macOS, but were found by navigating through the Safari settings menu. Having all of these controls in one central location in the Address Bar will make these options more discoverable for end users. Other options like on-page text search and reader mode are also in this menu.

This all suggests Apple intends to unite the iPadOS and macOS Safari UI paradigms when it unveils its new OS releases during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

AI-enhanced Visual Lookup feature could be available in 2025



Simultaneously, Apple is also working on a much more powerful visual search feature scheduled for integration sometime in 2025 that will allow users to obtain information on consumer products when browsing through images. People familiar with the tool say it's similar to the Visual Lookup feature, through which Siri can identify plants, pets and landmarks from photos.

An image of a black cat with big yellow eyes in Apple Photos with text below classifying it as a 'bombay'
Visual Lookup could get an AI boost and become available across iOS



Visual Search could be implemented as a system-wide feature. So, instead of surfacing search results in the Photos app, the user may be able to use Visual Search directly in Safari by selecting an image.

Given development of this tool is in the earlier stages, it remains unclear how Apple will ultimately go about implementing it. It also remains to be seen whether or not the feature will make it through internal testing.

The iPhone maker has expressed significant interest in artificial intelligence and more recently published research related to on-device language learning models. This goes hand in hand with widespread rumors about several other AI-powered software features, many of which are expected to make their debut later this year with iOS 18.

Another big year for Safari



From its inception, Safari was always meant to rival existing web browsers.

A Flickr login screen with password auto fill shown as a pop-up
Features like built-in password tools make Safari an excellent browser option



Safari was originally added to macOS as a means of replacing Microsoft's Internet Explorer for Mac, which was the default browser. Over the years, the app made its way to the iPhone, and has since received various upgrades over the years.

More recent versions of Safari provide users with personalized web suggestions, and allow for greater privacy protection with features such as iCloud Private Relay.

This latest set of enhancements only serves to better position Safari against the competition, in an ever-increasing landscape of generative AI tools and third-party ad-blockers.

While Apple tests many such features during different development stages, it is important to remember that not all of them make it to release. Apple has been known to delay features or cancel them entirely, so there's always a chance we may not see these new Safari features after all.

Along with Safari 18 and its associated improvements, we should also see a revamped Calculator with Math Notes make its way to iPadOS 18. Freeform Scenes and Adaptive Voice Shortcuts are new OS features, which are also expected to debut later this year.

Apple is expected to introduce various AI-related enhancements as part of iOS 18 and macOS 15, both of which should be announced at the company's annual WWDC on June 10.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,340member
    "As for where Apple got the inspiration for Web Eraser, the company could have Sherlocked the feature from the third-party app 1Blocker. The application features a similar way of erasing ads, where users would tap ads to make them disappear."

    They may also have been inspired by Simplified Page....
  • Reply 2 of 40
    S8ER95ZS8ER95Z Posts: 11member
    As long as I can turn it off/hide it they can knock themselves out. 
    M68000watto_cobrawilliamlondonbaconstangVictorMortimer
  • Reply 3 of 40
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,272member
    Will the web eraser feature remove pop up videos, such as the ones that appear on this site?
    appleinsideruserAlex1Nwatto_cobrasidricthevikingbeowulfschmidtJinTechbyronljas99VictorMortimer
  • Reply 4 of 40
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,367member
    I use the 'Reader' function in Safari quite a bit, but sometimes it doesn't work very well. Seems like something that AI could help make better. 
    appleinsideruserAlex1Nwatto_cobrasidricthevikingbyronl
  • Reply 5 of 40
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…
    gatorguyjSnivelynubuswatto_cobrachasmwilliamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 40
    jSnivelyjSnively Posts: 431administrator
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…

    Ads alone aren't even enough these days (please don't block them here 😢)

    I could write a fucking dissertation about how Google has destroyed the internet..
    Alex1Njas99watto_cobrathtchasmbyronl
  • Reply 7 of 40
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,147member
    Can Safari finally get an overflow menu for extension buttons?  
     
    Apple seems to do a lot of chasing of the latest thing but a lot of core features go unchanged for years to decades 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobrawilliamlondonbyronlnubus
  • Reply 8 of 40
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,147member
    I'm curious if these AI features will mean Neural Engine Macs only, which would mean Apple Silicon only. I wonder if they'll be nice and end on a long term release of Intel macOS, or they'll just be Apple and drop it with the typical ~2 years of security updates.

    Then again other browsers like Arc with these features trivially run on Intel too
    Alex1Nwatto_cobrawilliamlondonbyronl
  • Reply 9 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,340member
    jSnively said:
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…

    Ads alone aren't even enough these days (please don't block them here 😢)

    I could write a fucking dissertation about how Google has destroyed the internet..
    ...and now Apple is bringing the nails? 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Please can we get more contrast of the active tab vs the inactive tabs.  And offer the option of two line deep tab text description for when you have a lot of tabs and they are too narrow to read the text. Also have a high contrast color to signify if a tab has media/sound playing. 

    Give us an option of the cursor color with control on the page (not in settings).  Then when in dark mode or if App or web page has light type on a dark background, we can see the cursor.  Currently dark mode on iPad has a blue cursor against black.  With small type, the cursor disappears. 
    Offer all these options as an interface button in the ellipsis… menu.  

    Fix the annoying phenomenon of when tapping in url field that while it’s okay to have whole url selected, make it easy to tap where you want to insert the cursor.  It’s currently difficult to deselect the whole url. 

    When in grid view of pages, have screen view of webpage preserved over time, not disappearing when is dormant for a while. 

    Offer these web page previews as thumbnails in the bookmarks that grow in size if you have the cursor over them.  When AI is implemented, have brief summaries of web page pop up when hovering over bookmarks.  Offer an option for bookmark page to enlarge and have discernible thumbnails of webpage.  
    Alex1Nwatto_cobrawilliamlondonroundaboutnow
  • Reply 11 of 40
    I’d love a feature that automatically recognizes when people have gone to a scam website. There’s a few easy things that could be done. Check for any UI elements that seem to be flashing, or changing in size to confuse the user. Have the browser check the page for terms like virus, compromised, Apple Security (when not on a website known for talking about Apple or security). There are an increasing number of scams targeting seniors and a lot of them rely on the fact that seniors often browse the web in full screen mode and when you’re in full screen mode, it can be very difficult for elderly people to figure out how to get out and so they’ll often get sucked in to calling the scammers. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobramattinozwilliamlondonbyronl
  • Reply 12 of 40
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,273member
    The days of Google having a stranglehold on accurate web searches are numbered.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobradee_deedanoxbyronl
  • Reply 13 of 40
    mpantonempantone Posts: 2,092member
    tipoo said:
    I'm curious if these AI features will mean Neural Engine Macs only, which would mean Apple Silicon only. I wonder if they'll be nice and end on a long term release of Intel macOS, or they'll just be Apple and drop it with the typical ~2 years of security updates.

    Then again other browsers like Arc with these features trivially run on Intel too
    We'll just have to wait and see what Apple does in a few months.

    They have a long established history of enforcing exclusivity of some new features to the latest hardware.

    It's also worth pointing out that the Neural Engine itself has evolved and gotten hardware upgrades over the years. The Neural Engine in the iPhone 8 does not have the same transistors as what will be included in the next generation Apple Silicon (both A-series and M-series SoCs).

    I will wager that Intel Mac owners will be shut out of these new AI features.
    edited April 30 Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 40
    jSnivelyjSnively Posts: 431administrator
    gatorguy said:
    jSnively said:
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…

    Ads alone aren't even enough these days (please don't block them here 😢)

    I could write a fucking dissertation about how Google has destroyed the internet..
    ...and now Apple is bringing the nails? 

    Running a news site in 2024 is like building a coffin from the inside out. So yeah... kinda 😉

    Alex1Nwatto_cobrafastasleepbyronlnubus
  • Reply 15 of 40
    dope_ahminedope_ahmine Posts: 255member
    @marko Zivkowich, LLM does not stand for “language-learning model”!!!  
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,340member
    jSnively said:
    gatorguy said:
    jSnively said:
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…

    Ads alone aren't even enough these days (please don't block them here 😢)

    I could write a fucking dissertation about how Google has destroyed the internet..
    ...and now Apple is bringing the nails? 

    Running a news site in 2024 is like building a coffin from the inside out. So yeah... kinda 😉

    I don't envy you. It's amazing what can be done despite the headwinds. 
    byronl
  • Reply 17 of 40
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 116member
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…
    The ad industry has brought this upon themselves.  The trick is not to just block the ads, but do it without being detected.  If Apple can dance around the “turn off your ad blocker” alert its game over for ads on the web. 
    beowulfschmidtgadgetfreak-applewilliamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobraVictorMortimer
  • Reply 18 of 40
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,373member
    All this TALK about AI, but so little to show for it. Yeah, I know about the coming announcement, but I'm honestly not holding my breath.

    All said, I want SIRI to stop being an idiot.  Only moments ago, I invoked Siri on my 16" M1 Max MBP and asked it to open TouchID so I could add a new fingerprint, and foolish Siri responded back with "I can't do that."  What a complete idiot.  Siri is utterly worthless. If this AI talk makes Siri do even the most basic tasks FINALLY, then maybe it will be worth it.  But to this very day, all that tech Apple has poured into Siri hasn't resulted in something usable for me.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 19 of 40
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,612member
    dee_dee said:
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…
    The ad industry has brought this upon themselves. ...
    Apple could create a private web with no ads that you can access only with a subscription through Apple. I already subscribe to Apple News, Apple Music, and more, which are similar kinds of service. I happily pay for my News through Apple's services because I trust Apple to maintain my privacy, (eg, my name and email address) and also because it's just too complicated setting up separate accounts to pay individual news websites directly. 

    So I'm hoping that Apple introduces "one more thing," called "Apple Web." It costs $9.99/month and contains an ad-free version of the net. No ads, no ID, no trackers. And no horrific Javascript, just HTML. I'm not sure if CSS should be cut out too, as without CSS, HTML looks like the web back in the 1990s.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,340member
    dee_dee said:
    JamesCude said:
    Web ads suck but how else do you think your favorite websites will stay in business? Are you prepared to pay a subscription to every site? I doubt it…
    The ad industry has brought this upon themselves. ...
    Apple could create a private web with no ads that you can access only with a subscription through Apple. I already subscribe to Apple News, Apple Music, and more, which are similar kinds of service. I happily pay for my News through Apple's services because I trust Apple to maintain my privacy, (eg, my name and email address) and also because it's just too complicated setting up separate accounts to pay individual news websites directly. 

    So I'm hoping that Apple introduces "one more thing," called "Apple Web." It costs $9.99/month and contains an ad-free version of the net. No ads, no ID, no trackers. And no horrific Javascript, just HTML. I'm not sure if CSS should be cut out too, as without CSS, HTML looks like the web back in the 1990s.
    And then Apple would pay each of the websites you visit, for example AppleInsider, because otherwise it would be Apple stealing someones content for it's own enrichment? Also, would websites need to opt in to be paid some pittance, and if not your Apple-subscribed web couldn't access it for you? 


    edited May 1 beowulfschmidtbyronlnubus
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