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Apple debuts Apple Intelligence AI platform for iPhone, Mac

Apple (AAPL) announced its long-awaited artificial intelligence initiative called Apple Intelligence on Monday at the WWDC conference in Cupertino, California. The technology, Apple's first step toward generative AI, will be deeply integrated into the company's hardware and software products, from the iPhone and Mac to Mail, Messages and Photos.

Apple is positioning Apple Intelligence as a single offering that can understand you and your data, rather than a large AI system like ChatGPT or Google's AI Overview.

Apple Intelligence will be available for iPhone 15 Pro, iPad, and Mac devices powered by Apple's M1 series chipsets later this fall.

The biggest changes concern Apple's Siri. The original voice assistant for smartphones, Siri, has been in desperate need of a new coat of paint for years, and Apple Intelligence will provide it with just that. The company says the assistant will have a new look, feel more natural and be more responsive.

Like other AI-based assistants, you'll be able to ask follow-up questions and interrupt yourself while making requests. You'll also now be able to talk to Siri via typed text if you don't want to make requests out loud. You'll also be able to ask Siri to use ChatGPT, instead of Apple's own forms 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 specific answers. Screen Awareness will allow Siri to understand and act on items displayed 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 is specifically improving Siri's ability to understand your private data. For example, you'll be able to ask questions like "Show me photos of Stacey in New York wearing a pink coat" and Assistant will provide you with the exact photo you're looking for from your Photos app. You can then ask Siri to move the image to another app, like an email in Mail. Additionally, these queries will also work through third-party applications.

If you need to pick up someone from the airport, you can ask Siri when that person will arrive. It will find flight information that the person previously shared with you in Mail and check real-time flight tracking data to determine when you should do so. press the Route button.

Unlike Siri, your devices can now prioritize your notifications to show the most important notes and minimize the less important notes. Writing tools can retype, transcribe or summarize information for you and are automatically available through Notes Mail and a range of third-party applications. You'll be able to create creative AI-powered images of people, places, and animals in your apps in three different styles.

Apple says many of its generative AI models will work on-device, although some will need cloud access. But because Apple traditionally avoids forcing people to use cloud services when it comes to their private data, the company announced that it has developed a new cloud service called Private Cloud Computing Servers.

The servers are custom built using Apple Silicon with built-in privacy capabilities. When you make a request, Apple Intelligence determines whether it can complete it using on-device processing or whether it needs to connect to the cloud. However, Apple says it will not store your information used to respond to an Apple Intelligence request in the cloud.

Wall Street is eagerly awaiting Apple to unleash its production capabilities for the first time since Microsoft (MSFT) announced its OpenAI-based Bing chatbot, now called Copilot, in 2023. Google (GOOG, GOOGL) quickly followed in the footsteps from Microsoft through its chat. Bard program, later renamed Gemini. Social media giant Meta (META) has also integrated AI into its platform offerings through its behind-the-scenes recommendation program and Meta AI chatbot.

But businesses have also had difficulty deploying AI. Google's Bard debuted with an ad showing an incorrect response to a prompt, and its image-generating app Gemini showed historically inaccurate images of people from different time periods. Most recently, his grand launch of AI Overview, a major initiative to transform this very important research platform, drew ridicule after producing results telling people it is safe to eat rocks and add sticks it to their pizza.

Meanwhile, Microsoft launched the Copilot+ PC standard for laptops and desktops ahead of its Build conference, as well as the new Recall app for Windows 11. The program aims to take a screenshot of almost everything you use on your PC to help you. Pull down the apps and information you used previously. But the app has been criticized as a potential security nightmare, forcing Microsoft to update the software before releasing it to the public, making it optional instead of running by default and improving its security.

Meta, for its part, has faced heavy criticism for not allowing consumers to disable the Meta AI chatbot in the company's apps.

These hiccups haven't really slowed down the companies, but Apple is a whole different beast. The iPhone maker has built a reputation for security and software that works largely out of the box. If its AI efforts suffer similar drawbacks to those of Google and Microsoft, it could have a negative impact on the brand's reputation.

Additionally, any error on Apple's part could harm the image of generative AI more broadly. After all, if three of the world's biggest tech companies can't deploy a new type of software without major problems, can users really trust generative AI?

Apple still has time to work on its Apple Intelligence offering before it is available on users' devices next September.


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