Apple Intelligence: Apple’s Ambitious Bid to Finally Integrate AI Across Its Ecosystem

  • A year and a half after the arrival of ChatGPT, Apple is finally offering similar capabilities in its products.

  • The company inserted Apple Intelligence features into different scenarios and platforms.

  • The bet on privacy is clear, and Apple has launched the platform cautiously.

Apple Intelligence presentation
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Apple’s long-awaited bet on AI is finally here. The company’s executives wanted to own the popular acronym, so they've used it to give this bundle of features their own name. Welcome to Apple Intelligence.

Has Apple missed the artificial intelligence train? It seemed that way a year ago when ChatGPT was revolutionizing everything, and the company didn’t want to make a move.

Things may change now. The unveiling of Apple Intelligence represents a turning point for a company that has taken its time to introduce its first incursion into the AI segment. Apple’s offering, as you’ll see below, is impressive.

A Hybrid AI (Local+Cloud) That Promises to Be Private

CEO Tim Cook introduced Apple's newest, and perhaps most important, product by pointing out that for the company, Apple Intelligence had to be consistent with the critical elements that had been a part of its strategy for years. This AI had to be powerful, intuitive, integrated into the user experience, personal, and most importantly, private.

Apple Intelligence

Many of the features of Apple's AI focus on privacy. Apple’s head of software Craig Federighi said Apple Intelligence had to do everything “the right way.” To that end, the company focuses on running the models locally whenever possible.

Due to software and hardware integration, this AI system doesn’t collect your personal data. Generative AI models require a lot of processing power, and according to Apple, the chips in the newest iPad, iPhone, and Mac (not Apple Watch or AirPods) can deliver that power.

Apple Intelligence uses a semantic index based on your info—photos, calendar events, messages, documents, images—to give you the results you want when using the AI.

Apple Intelligence presentation

However, as rumored, Apple will combine these local AI capabilities with AI capabilities in the cloud. Apple Intelligence will analyze your request complexity, and if it determines that it needs more resources, it will search on its servers in its cloud.

Using the cloud could be worrying for users. Nevertheless, Apple has implemented Private Cloud Compute to handle more complex requests while protecting your privacy. These servers use Apple chips, as was also rumored. According to company representatives, the AI never stores your data, which arrives, is processed, and then theoretically disappears.

Features That Bring AI to Our Everyday Lives

After explaining how it works, Apple gave an overview of all the generative AI features that Apple Intelligence will have. You've likely seen many of these capabilities on other platforms. Microsoft, for example, has implemented them in Windows.

New Siri design

Apple’s competitors certainly offer many of these options. For example, Rewrite can help you write all kinds of texts, such as cover letters and emails, with a formal or informal tone, finish a message, or rewrite documents to be more in line with the message you want to communicate and how you want to communicate it.

There are other remarkable features like Smart Reply, which, for example, recognizes the questions someone sent you in an email, answers them, and writes the email instead of you.

Priority notification show by Apple Intelligence

Another feature that users are probably already familiar with is the ability to summarize text, which has been present in other services for months. In this context, Apple's AI will be able to summarize email messages or message notifications. In fact, Apple Intelligence AI wants to go even further.

With these options, Apple’s operating systems can detect which messages in Mail and between notifications are more important and summarize their content if you don’t want so many distractions.

Generating images is another interesting option from Apple Intelligence. With Genmoji, for example, you can generate emojis through AI: Write what you want your character to have in that format. You’ll also be able to create emojis from your contacts or people in your photos.

Furthermore, a new section called Image Playground allows users to generate AI images on-device. We’ll have to evaluate the capacity of this generative AI model, but Apple has focused on images more common in comics and cartoons, perhaps with the aim of avoiding the problems that Google, for example, suffered with its inclusive images.

Apple AI-images generator The Apple Intelligence image generator seems limited to these types of pictures.

It’s unclear if users can utilize this tool for different creative purposes, as we’ve seen in DALL-E 3, Midjourney, or Stable Diffusion. Apple hasn’t indicated if its tool can be used in this way.

These AI functions can also “intervene” in Notes: With a simple scribble from your iPad, Image Wand can generate a much more professional image using Image Playground. This option is popular in other platforms that don’t use a text prompt but an image to generate something.

You can use the generative AI options to delete objects from your photos (like Google’s Magic Editor) and perform “natural” searches for images using simple language.

So, if you request something like “Katie with stickers on her face,” Apple Intelligence will find those images in your Apple Photos Gallery. Again, we already saw this in Google Photos when the company introduced the option at Google I/O a few weeks ago.

Apple Is Just Playing Catch-Up

Users had high expectations for Apple when it came to showing off its AI capabilities, but what we saw at this event is essentially the same as what we’ve seen from other developers and platforms for months.

Apple Intelligence images generator example

There are no revolutions here. In fact, Apple’s approach to these options is cautious, like with the generation of images, which seems to be limited to this cartoon style.

Federighi emphasized this at the end of the presentation: “This is just the beginning.” So far, Apple has preferred to adapt to the recent times cautiously without taking too many risks.

This is why the theoretical guarantee of privacy offered by Apple Intelligence and the possibility of running many of these features natively on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS stand out.

It remains to see how far we can go with these local models and when they send data to the Apple cloud to execute requests on its servers.

It’s also worth noting Siri's major upgrade, which will undoubtedly win many points.

However, the alliance with OpenAI and the integration of GPT-4o into Siri—though not exclusively—was much less ambitious than we thought, perhaps because of the implications that using the OpenAI platform might have on the privacy promises made by the company behind it.

But one thing is certain, and it’s the what Federighi emphasized: This is just the beginning. It will be interesting to see where Apple goes next and whether it can turn these features into genuine game changers.

Apple Intelligence will be available for free this summer as part of the beta versions of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. We’ll see it in its final form this fall, but for now, it’s only available in the U.S. and in English.

Apple will add more features, platforms, and languages next year. However, Apple Intelligence will be available on iPhone 15 Pro/Max, not standard models. It will also be available on Macs and iPads with at least the M1 chip. Meanwhile, Siri will only be available in English for now.

Images | Apple

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