What is Apple information? The new AI tools that want to change your iPhone

Apple has finally revealed its answer to the current hype over AI: its own technology called “Apple Intelligence”.

The tools are a “personal information system for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that combines the power of generative models with personal context to deliver information that is highly useful and relevant”, Apple said when announcing the feature.

In some ways they are similar to the AI ​​tools that most of the big tech companies have announced in recent months. After the update, iPhones will be able to contact ChatGPT and create images using AI generation.

But Apple sought to separate itself from those competitors in several ways. Many of them have relied on the architecture of their artificial intelligence offering: it is built in ways that ensure it is personal and private.

Apple hopes these features will allow it to respond to critics who say it has been slow to adopt new AI features, and risks being left behind. But it also hopes that a particular focus on aspects such as privacy will enable it to stand out from those rivals, and the potential pitfalls of leaning too strongly into a technology that has proven controversial and even dangerous to avoid.

The company also emphasized that its capabilities were unique, since they rely on its commitment to privacy as well as its work on the software and hardware that run its devices.

Hardware integration means they won’t be available to most iPhone users: “Apple Intelligence” will only work on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which Apple says is necessary because it relies on the phones’ increased processing power that. It will also be available on Macs and iPads, as long as they have one of Apple’s M-series chips, and will come to all those platforms via a free software update.

“We’re excited to usher in a new chapter in Apple innovation. Apple Intelligence will change what users can do with our products — and what our products can do for our users,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive. “Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to provide truly helpful information.

“And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them. This is AI as only Apple can deliver it, and we can’t wait for users to experience what it can do.”

Rumors suggested that an Apple executive’s response to the rise of artificial intelligence was to ask its engineers across the company to examine how they could integrate it into their own apps. That seems to have happened, with AI features now present in almost all of Apple’s own apps.

In practice, these features involve using the latest developments in generative artificial intelligence – large language models for handling text, and diffusion models that can create images – by plugging them into Apple apps themselves and in the data they hold. Language tools mean that users can generate and check their work across apps, for example.

Apple’s tools will also be examining information as the iPhone uses it. It will use language models to find and then prioritize important notifications, for example, and summarize long and busy group chats in a single alert.

The iPhone can now record, transcribe and summarize audio, including from the phone app.

Apple has also added image tools that will be available across Apple platforms. Users can create an emoji or illustration just by describing it, for example – and even include pictures of their friends.

Siri is also getting significant upgrades. That starts with a new design: when Siri is invoked, it comes with a fresh animation that spans the entire screen, and users can now chat with it by typing as well as speaking, and Apple said it will better understand even if someone stumbles over their words.

Siri herself can do more. It is moving towards understanding what is on the screen, for example, so that a user can request things to happen based on a message being displayed; it can also bring together information from across the phone, so a user can ask for example “when does Jamie’s flight land”, and get an answer that pulls from different apps and services.

That speaks to one of Apple’s central focuses for its AI work: that it has unique access to people’s personal data, so the tools can be personalized using that information.

But he also focused on the privacy issues that arise from such personalization. The iPhone will try to do most of its work on the device itself, accessing the cloud only when necessary; when it does, a technology called “Private Cloud Compute” means that only the data needed to answer a question will be sent, and it will be deleted when it’s done.

Apple will also start integrating other platforms, however, and announced a new partnership with OpenAI to use what it said is the “best” third-party AI tool, in the form of ChatGPT. Siri will now be able to call ChatGPT for help, but Apple has tried to address any privacy concerns by making sure customers choose that every time.

Analysts suggested that Apple had at least begun to address criticism of its AI strategy, as well as offer ways that artificial intelligence could actually be useful.

“What does it mean for users? AI will be integrated so deeply and broadly across all apps, devices and experiences. It means users will be able to do much more in their daily lives – save more time, more life hacks, more seamless interactions, more creative ways to communicate, and more fun,” said Paolo Pescatore, analyst and founder of PP Preview.

“Apple’s trust and credibility is key to adoption. There are still ongoing privacy and trust concerns from AI tricks that Apple is addressing with tough opt-out measures. This will be an interesting question to watch out for.”

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