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Apple debuts Apple Intelligence AI platform for iPhone, Mac

In Technology
June 10, 2024

Apple (AAPL) announced its long-awaited generative AI initiative called Apple Intelligence during its WWDC conference in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday. The technology, Apple’s first step into generative AI, will be deeply integrated across 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 for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPads and Macs running Apple’s M1 series chips and newer later this fall.

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

Like other generative AI-powered assistants, you’ll be able to ask follow-up questions and interrupt yourself while making requests. You’ll also now be able to speak to Siri via typed text if you don’t feel like making requests out loud. You’ll also be able to ask Siri to use ChatGPT, rather than Apple’s own models to make requests.

Apple says its 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 responses. On-screen awareness will let Siri understand and take action about things on your screen. So, if a friend sends an address in Messages, you can say, save this address, and Siri will save it for you.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Monday, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Monday, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Apple is specifically pushing Siri’s ability to understand your own data. For instance, you’ll be able to ask questions like “Show me photos of Stacy in New York wearing a pink coat,” and the assistant will provide you with 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. What’s more, these requests will also work across third-party apps.

If you need to pick up someone at the airport, you can ask Siri when the person lands, and it will find the flight information the person previously shared with you in Mail and check real-time flight tracking data to determine when you should hit the road.

Beyond Siri, your devices can now prioritize your notifications to bring up the most important notes and minimize less relevant ones. Writing tools can rewrite, write or summarize information for you, automatically available across notes mail and a host of third-party apps. You’ll be able to create generative AI images of people, places, and animals across your apps in three different styles.

Apple says many of its generative AI models will run on device, though some will need to access the cloud. But because Apple has traditionally eschewed 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 servers.

The servers are specially created using Apple Silicon with built-in privacy capabilities. When you make a request, Apple Intelligence determines if can complete it using on-device processing or needs to connect to the cloud. Apple, however, says it won’t store and of your information used to complete Apple Intelligence request in the cloud.

Wall Street has been anxiously waiting for Apple to debut its generative capabilities ever since Microsoft (MSFT) announced its OpenAI-powered Bing chatbot, now called Copilot, in 2023. 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 offerings via behind-the-scenes recommendation software and its Meta AI chatbot.

But the companies have struggled with their AI rollouts as well. Google’s Bard famously debuted with an advertisement showing the incorrect answer to a prompt and its Gemini image generator app showed historically inaccurate images of individuals from different time periods. More recently, its big AI Overview rollout, a major initiative meant to transform its all-important Search platform, drew jeers after it generated results telling people it was safe to eat rocks and add glue to their pizza.

Microsoft, meanwhile, debuted its Copilot+PC standard for laptops and desktops ahead of its Build conference, as well as its new Recall app for Windows 11. The software is meant to take a screenshot of virtually everything you use on your computer to help you pull up apps and information you’ve previously used. But the app was blasted as a potential security nightmare, forcing Microsoft to update the software before releasing it to the public, making it opt-in rather than on by default and enhancing its security.

Meta, for its part, faced heavy criticism for not allowing consumers to turn off the Meta AI chatbot in the company’s apps.

Those hiccups haven’t exactly slowed the companies down, but Apple is a different beast all together. The iPhone maker has built up a reputation for itself based on security and software that, largely, works out of the box. If its generative AI efforts suffer from the similar flaws as Google and Microsoft’s, it could have a negative impact on the brand’s reputation.

Moreover, a flub by Apple could hurt generative AI’s image more broadly. After all, if three of the world’s biggest tech companies can’t roll out a new kind of software without major problems, then can users really trust generative AI?

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

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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