Apple leaps into AI with an array of upcoming iPhone features and a ChatGPT deal to smarten up

Apple leaps into AI with an array of upcoming iPhone features and a ChatGPT deal to smarten up
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday, June 10, 2024. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Apple has jumped into the race to bring generative artificial intelligence to the masses, spotlighting a slew of features Monday designed to soup up the iPhone, iPad and Mac.

And in a move befitting a company known for its marketing prowess, the AI technology coming as part of free software updates later this year is being billed as “Apple Intelligence.”

Even as it tried to put its own stamp on technology’s hottest area, Apple tacitly acknowledged during its World Wide Developers Conference that it needs help catching up with companies like Microsoft and Google, which have emerged as the early leaders in AI. Apple is leaning on ChatGPT, made by the San Francisco startup OpenAI, to make its often-bumbling virtual assistant Siri smarter and more helpful.

“All of this goes beyond artificial intelligence, it’s personal intelligence, and it is the next big step for Apple,” CEO Tim Cook said.

Siri’s optional gateway to ChatGPT will be free to all iPhone users and made available on other Apple products once the option is baked into the next generation of Apple’s operating systems. ChatGPT subscribers are supposed to be able to easily sync their existing accounts when using the iPhone, and should get more advanced features than free users would.

Apple leaps into AI with an array of upcoming iPhone features and a ChatGPT deal to smarten up
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Monday, June 10, 2024. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

To herald the alliance with Apple, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman sat in the front row of the packed conference, which was attended by developers from more than 60 countries.

“Together with Apple, we’re making it easier for people to benefit from what AI can offer,” Altman said in a statement.

Beyond allowing Siri to tap into ChatGPT’s storehouse of knowledge, Apple is giving its 13-year-old virtual assistant an extensive makeover designed to make it more personable and versatile, even as it currently fields about 1.5 billion queries a day.

When Apple releases free updates to the software powering the iPhone and its other products this fall, Siri will signal its presence with flashing lights along the edges of the display screen. It will be able to handle hundreds of more tasks—including chores that may require tapping into third-party devices—than it can now, based on Monday’s presentations.

Apple’s full suite of upcoming features will only work on more recent models of the iPhone, iPad and Mac because the devices require advanced processors. For instance, consumers will need last year’s iPhone 15 Pro or buy the next model coming out later this year to take full advantage of Apple’s AI package, although all the tools will work on Macs dating back to 2020 after that computer’s next operating system is installed.

Apple leaps into AI with an array of upcoming iPhone features and a ChatGPT deal to smarten up
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman attends an Apple event announcing new products in Cupertino, Calif., Monday, June 10, 2024. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The AI-packed updates coming to the next versions of Apple software are meant to enable the billions of people who use the company’s devices to get more done in less time, while also giving them access to creative tools that could liven things up. For instance, Apple will deploy AI to allow people to create emojis, dubbed “Genmojis” on the fly to fit the vibe they are trying to convey.

Apple’s goal with AI “is not to replace users, but empower them,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, told reporters. Users will also have the option of going into the device settings to turn off any AI tools they don’t want.

Monday’s showcase seemed aimed at allaying concerns Apple might be losing its edge with the advent of AI, a technology expected to be as revolutionary as the 2007 introduction of the Phone. Both Google and Samsung have already released smartphone models touting AI features as their main attractions, while Apple has been stuck in an uncharacteristically extended sales slump.

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Apple leaps into AI with an array of upcoming iPhone features and a ChatGPT deal to smarten up (2024, June 11)
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