Apple Is an AI Company After All

Electronics company says its AI is optimizing the user experience without invading their privacy.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

June 13, 2024

5 Min Read
Apple finally admits it is dabbling in AI.
AI revealed: Apple announces its powerful, privacy-preserving Apple Intelligence, affirming the company has been dabbling in these tools without saying anything.Apple

At a Glance

  • Apple confirmed it has dabbled in artificial intelligence and machine learning with the announcement of "Apple Intelligence".

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference press event earlier this week unveiled updates to various iOS software for various products. But as some speculated, the company’s major news regarded its foray into artificial intelligence, where the company announced to the world that these tools will make a major impact in the operation of its future products.

The electronics giant touted its Apple Intelligence, which the company coins as a personal intelligence system that puts powerful generative models at the core of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. According to Apple, Apple Intelligence understands personal context to deliver helpful and relevant intelligence for users.

AI Comes Out of Hiding

Anyone who has attended Apple product briefings in recent years will notice that Apple has barely broached the subject of AI and machine learning, instead touting improvements making its consumer electronics more intuitive and user-friendly. But Apple has likely been incorporating AI and machine learning algorithms into the OS software in its electronics for years, without talking about it. So have Samsung and other rival consumer product vendors that are making their products easier to use. But with Apple feverishly working behind the scenes to hone its AI, perhaps coupled with the fact that every major electronics company is now talking about AI in its product development, Apple chose its annual developer’s conference to reveal that it is also a major player in AI.

Related:Apple Enters AI Race with Powerful Processor

Apple says Apple Intelligence is integrated into its newest software, including iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. Apple says its Apple Intelligences harnesses the power of Apple silicon to understand and create language and images, takes action across apps, and draw from personal context to simplify and accelerate everyday tasks. Thus, consumers eager to reap the benefits of AI will do so by using the latest Apple OS products─and thus Apple’s latest hardware, which the company says is optimized for this software.

Understanding and Creating Language

One way Apple Intelligence works is to help users enhance their writing and communicate more effectively. For instance, Apple has developed Writing Tools algorithms in its updated iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia software that enables the user to rewrite, proofread, and summarize text nearly everywhere they write. This includes Mail, Notes, Pages, and third-party apps.

One of those writing tools is Rewrite, where users can choose different versions of what they have written, adjusting the tone to suit the audience and task at hand. Apple’s writing tools also incorporate proofreading functions that check grammar, word choice, and sentence structure while also suggesting edits—along with explanations— that users can review or quickly accept. There’s also a summarize function that lets users select text and have it recapped in the form of a digestible paragraph, bulleted key points, a table, or a list.

Related:Does Apple iPhone’s Future Include a Foldable Model?

Apple has also infused a generous dose of AI into its mail program. For instance, a Priority Messages section atop the inbox shows the most urgent emails. Across a user’s inbox, instead of previewing the first few lines of each email, they can see summaries without needing to open a message. For long threads, users can view pertinent details with just a tap. The AI-infused mail program also provides the user suggestions for a quick response and will identify questions in an email to ensure everything is answered.

Apple says it has also enhanced its Siri with Apple Intelligence, meaning Siri can communicate more naturally than ever. Siri is now reportedly more aware of personal context, with more product knowledge about a user’s device features and settings to better assist users.  With onscreen awareness, Siri will be able to understand and take action with users’ content in more apps over time.

Related:Apple Unveils New iPad Amidst Jarring Video Promotion

How About Privacy?

While the AI help sounds useful, consumer product users at obviously concerned about protecting private information. Apple claims its Apple Intelligence, while being aware of a user’s personal information does not collect it. Though it does not reveal the details of the algorithms making this possible, Apple says that data is retrieved to fulfill a user’s request, but is encrypted and deleted when it is no longer required.

Apple terms its privacy-enhancing process as Private Cloud Compute. According to Apple, the ability to flex and scale computational capacity between on-device processing and larger, server-based models that run on dedicated Apple silicon servers helps protect the user’s privacy.

OS Updates

Apple Intelligence likely had a major hand in other updates to its OS products announced earlier during the press event. For instance, MacOS Sequoia, Apple’s Mac computer platform, now offers a feature called iPhone mirroring, which allows users to fully access and engage with their iPhone — right from their Mac. The Mac displays the user’s custom wallpaper and icons appear just like on their iPhone, and they can swipe between pages on their Home Screen, or launch and browse apps. The iPhone mirroring feature also extends to the keyboard, trackpad, and mouse on the Mac, with the user’s iPhone remaining locked so nobody else can access or see what the user is doing. 

In addition, Apple’s Safari browser has changed. Using machine learning, Safari can surface key information about a webpage. Users can review a summary to get the gist of an article; quickly see the location of a restaurant, hotel, or landmark; or listen to an artist’s track right from an article about the song or album. Safari’s reader has been redesigned to offer additional ways to enjoy articles without distraction, with a summary and table of contents included for longer articles.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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