Apple’s AI: We’ve seen some of this before

Apple’s AI: We’ve seen some of this before
  • PublishedJune 12, 2024

Apple is about to throw artificial intelligence into the mainstream, but some of it is similar to what its competitors are already doing.

In a demo following Tuesday’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple gave CNN a preview of some of the AI-powered features coming to the iPhone, iPad and Mac in the fall. Powered by what the company is calling “Apple Intelligence,” some of the tools highlight a new era for the company; others remind us they’re just playing catch up.

Still, for many, this will be the first time interacting with generative AI – the buzzy form of artificial intelligence that can provide seemingly thorough responses to questions – in a way that will affect their everyday lives.

The biggest change coming to Apple devices is a modernized, much smarter Siri, potentially turning the company’s virtual assistant with a hit-or-miss track record into a more reliable, personalized chatbot. On the other hand, however, other AI tools look familiar from what we’ve seen on the market. And the very first iteration of Siri, launched in 2011, came with similar prognostications, only to fall relatively flat in the cultural zeitgeist.

Apple executive Craig Federighi on stage at the company's WWDC event Monday.

Apple executive Craig Federighi on stage at the company’s WWDC event Monday. From Apple

Apple Intelligence, for example, will help spot typos or grammar mistakes in emails, similar to a spellchecker or services like Grammarly, or turn a casual draft into one with a more professional tone (much like Microsoft’s AI software Copilot). It’ll also offer the ability to circle and remove distractions in photos (akin to Google Pixel’s Magic Easer). And it can also enable the production of AI-generated images from sketches (similar to Samsung Image Wand).

Apple is often not the first to adopt and integrate emerging technologies. The company typically researches, develops and aims to perfect new tech for years before including it in new products. Yet the speed at which the world is adopting generative AI perhaps expedited the company’s need to have a smartphone with the latest tech industry bet and finally show off what it’s likely been working on behind the scenes for years.

Catering to pro users

Users of only Apple most’s powerful (and therefore expensive) devices will be able to use the AI tools – this includes the iPhone 15 Pro or Mac with a M1, M2 and M3 processor. The rollout could also entice consumers to upgrade their devices at a time when they’ve been holding onto older models longer.

Ahead of the demo, the company emphasized that the majority of the new tools are powered by Apple Intelligence. Its partnership with ChatGPT creator OpenAI only comes into play in a limited, specific way (more on that soon).

In the demo, Apple discussed how writing tools with AI can be used to tighten cover letters and suggest changes, or change the tone of an email, rework sentence structure or catch typos. If you want your email to sound more professional, or more friendly, Apple says its AI will take a stab. While using the Notes app, you could ask for a summary of a meeting or school lecture. In the Photos app, it’s possible to remove something or someone out of a picture you no longer want there, using a quick tap.

Apple also walked us through creating customized photos that could be sent in messages, such as the Golden Gate Bridge with fireworks in the background, or creating a birthday party invitation with a custom picture of a dinosaur on a surfboard. It’s easy to see how this, along with Genmoji – Apple’s custom AI-generated emoji that uses your likeness against different backgrounds – will bring new methods of communication into texting and interacting with others.

Siri’s AI flex

Apple really flexes its AI muscle, however, when it comes to Siri, which Apple says is taking a massive step forward by becoming more contextually relevant and more personal.

In the demo, an Apple executive asked Siri to set an alarm for 5:30 am and then changed her mind to 5:45 am. Siri obliged without a fumble. In Messages, Siri will know what you’re discussing in case a question comes up. For example, if you’re chatting with someone about tennis player Roger Federer, you can ask Siri how many games he’s won without ever saying his name out loud.

When you have a question that’s beyond Siri’s scope, ChatGPT can step in. In the demo, Apple showed how someone could upload a picture of vegetables at a farmer’s market and ask what they could make for dinner. Siri could offer that this is a question better suited for ChatGPT, and ask the user if they consent to using the service.

Although the partnership is limited for now, some analysts say it makes sense for the company to grow its own proprietary technology and fill in the gaps with ChatGPT in the meantime. Apple could either scale back or grow its partnership with OpenAI over time, but using it in a limited capability could potentially cut down on risks associated with the company.

Apple plans to add AI-driven tools and features to its iPhones and other devices.

Apple plans to add AI-driven tools and features to its iPhones and other devices. From Apple

OpenAI, along with other AI companies, continue to face concerns around misinformation, biases, copyright, privacy and security, and more. It also comes at a time when the industry is moving so quickly and government regulators, companies and consumers are still figuring out how to use the technology responsibly.

During its presentation, Apple also emphasized privacy and security, noting most AI functions will be done on the phone, keeping inputs away from a far-off server cloud.

While the market didn’t seem to respond immediately to Apple’s announcements on Monday, with its stock price (AAPL) dipping slightly, the company’s stock rose more than 7% on Tuesday.

Although these are only Apple’s first steps into what tech giants are desperately hoping is a brave new world, it’s now poised to be a player in the ever-growing AI arms race.

SOURCE: CNNNEWS

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