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iOS 18 rumored to have a mysterious Safari Browsing Assistant feature

An iPhone running iOS 17

Two more potential features inbound to iOS 18 have surfaced in rumors, with Safari Browsing Assistant and Encrypted Visual Search possibly on the way.

Apple is a few months away from introducing the new features it will be including in iOS 18 at WWDC 2024. As the rumor mill ramps up ahead of the event, two new features have surfaced that could improve how users browse the internet.

According to Nicolas Alvarez on X, the features are titled "Safari browsing assistant" and "Encrypted visual search." Alvarez doesn't go into detail about the features of each, but does say that they each appear to use the Private Relay infrastructure to send data to Apple.

Though actual details of the features remain unknown, the names do at least offer some hint as to what they could be.

The Safari Browsing Assistant could is naturally linked to Safari itself, but the name may mean some sort of intelligent help could be summoned for users trying to accomplish tasks. Since Apple has been working on AI and machine learning, there's a good chance the technologies will be in play here.

The other, Encrypted Visual Search, could be an evolution of existing search systems available in its operating systems. For example, Spotlight does allow for the content of images to be found, while Visual Look Up offers more information about items detected in images.

Alvarez is uncertain as to what exactly is being changed with Encrypted Visual Search, other than "better privacy" for users. However, Visual Search has also been mentioned in visionOS, albeit not used in the software itself.

It's also entirely plausible that it could be Apple attempting to provide an image-based search system, similar to the function in Google Image Search. But, since Apple doesn't want to offer a full-blown search engine to the public just yet, this seems a little doubtful.

Other recently discovered features include Apple Maps routes, a redesign inspired by visionOS, and more home screen customizations.