Apple introduces the Apple Intelligence AI platform for iPhone and Mac

Apple (AAPL) announced its highly anticipated generative AI initiative called Apple Intelligence on Monday at its WWDC conference in Cupertino, California. The technology, Apple’s first foray into generative AI, will be deeply integrated into the company’s hardware and software products ranging from the iPhone and Mac to Mail, Messages and Photos.

Apple is positioning Apple Intelligence as a unique offering that can understand you and your data, rather than a broad-based AI system like ChatGPT or Google’s AI Overview.

Apple Intelligence will be available later this fall for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPads and Macs with Apple’s M1 series chips and newer.

The biggest changes are coming to Apple’s Siri. Siri, the original voice assistant for smartphones, has been in dire need of a fresh coat of paint for years, and Apple Intelligence will provide just that. The company says the assistant will have a new look, feel more natural and be more responsive.

Like other generative AI-powered assistants, you can ask follow-up questions and interrupt yourself while making requests. Siri can now respond to typed text requests when you don’t feel like saying them out loud. You can also ask Siri to use ChatGPT, instead of Apple’s own models, to make requests.

Apple says the updated version of Siri is more context-aware of Apple products, allowing you to ask questions about how different features and settings work and get accurate answers. Screen awareness allows Siri to understand things on your screen and take action. So if a friend sends an address in Messages, you can have Siri save it for you.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a new product announcement at the Apple campus in Cupertino, California, Monday, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a new product announcement at the Apple campus in Cupertino, California, Monday, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Apple specifically boosts Siri’s ability to understand users’ own data. For example, you can ask questions like “Show me photos of Stacy in New York wearing a pink coat,” and the assistant will give you the exact photo you’re looking for from your Photos app. You can then tell Siri to move the photo to another app, such as an email in Mail. These requests also work in third-party apps.

If you need to pick someone up at the airport, you can ask Siri when the person will land. The system will then look up the flight information the person previously shared with you in Mail and check real-time flight tracking data to determine when to click on the flight. away.

In addition to Siri, your devices can now prioritize your notifications to show the most important notes and minimize less relevant ones. Writing tools can rewrite, write or summarize information for you, automatically available in Notes, Mail and a host of third-party apps. You can create generative AI images of people, places, and animals in your apps in three different styles.

Apple says many of its generative AI models will run on-device, although some will require access to the cloud. But because Apple has traditionally avoided forcing people to use cloud-based services when it comes to their private data, the company says it has developed a new cloud service called Private Cloud Compute.

Private Cloud Compute servers are purpose-built using Apple Silicon with built-in privacy capabilities. When you make a request, Apple Intelligence determines whether it can complete it through on-device processing or whether it needs to connect to the cloud. However, Apple says it won’t store your data used to complete Apple Intelligence requests in the cloud.

Wall Street has been eagerly awaiting Apple to debut its generative capabilities since Microsoft (MSFT) announced its OpenAI-powered Bing chatbot in 2023, now called Copilot. Google (GOOG, GOOGL) quickly followed Microsoft’s lead with its Bard chatbot, which it subsequently renamed Gemini. Social media giant Meta (META) has also incorporated AI into its platform offering through behind-the-scenes recommendation software and its Meta AI chatbot.

But companies have also struggled with their AI rollouts. Google’s Bard famously debuted an ad showing the incorrect answer to a prompt, and its image-generating app Gemini showed historically inaccurate images of individuals from different time periods. More recently, the big rollout of AI Overview, a major initiative aimed at transforming the all-important search platform, was laughed at after it generated results telling people it was safe to eat rocks and add glue to their pizza .

Microsoft, meanwhile, debuted the Copilot+PC standard for laptops and desktops ahead of the Build conference, as well as the new Recall app for Windows 11. The software aims to take a screenshot of just about anything you have on your computer to help you retrieve apps and information you’ve used before. But the app was portrayed as a potential security nightmare, forcing Microsoft to update the software before releasing it to the public, make the app opt-in instead of enabled by default, and improve its security.

Meta, in turn, was heavily criticized for not allowing consumers to disable the Meta AI chatbot in the company’s apps.

These problems haven’t exactly slowed down the companies, but Apple is a completely different beast. The iPhone maker has built a reputation on security and software that works largely out-of-the-box. If its generative AI efforts suffer from similar shortcomings as those of Google and Microsoft, it could negatively impact the brand’s reputation.

Moreover, a blunder by Apple could damage the image of generative AI more broadly. If three of the world’s largest tech companies fail to roll out a new kind of software without major problems, can users really rely on generative AI?

Apple still has time to work on its Apple Intelligence offering before it hits users’ devices sometime in September.

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