Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Apple Intelligence: release date, features, privacy, and more

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Apple Intelligence is Apple’s take on AI, and it looks to fundamentally change the way we interact with technology, blending advanced machine learning and AI capabilities into everyday devices.

Contents

  • Apple Intelligence release date and compatibility
  • New AI features
  • Apple Intelligence privacy
  • Apple Intelligence’s ChatGPT partnership

Promising more conversational prose from Siri, automated proofreading and text summarization across apps, and lightning-fast image generation, Apple’s AI ecosystem is designed to enhance user experiences and streamline operations across its product lineup. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s transformational new AI.

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Apple Intelligence release date and compatibility

Apple Intelligence is slated for formal release this fall and will be included in the three major operating system updates: iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia.

The three are currently in developer beta, with public betas and official releases coming later this year.

The company has specified that, at least initially, the AI features will only be available on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, as well as iPads and Macs with M1 or newer chips. What’s more, the features will only be available at launch when the user language is set to English.

Why the cutoff? Well, Apple has insisted that the processes are too intensive for older hardware, as they utilize the more advanced neural engines, GPUs, and CPUs of these newer chips.

New AI features

No matter what device you’re using Apple Intelligence with, the AI will focus primarily on three functions: writing assistance, image creation and editing, and enhancing Siri’s cognitive capabilities.

Apple Intelligence is designed to span the breadth and width of the company’s product line. As such, virtually every feature found in the macOS version of Apple Intelligence will be mirrored in the iOS and iPadOS versions. That includes Writing Tools, Image Playground, Memories in Photos, and Siri’s improvements.

In addition, iPadOS, when paired with Apple Pencil, will unlock more features. Smart Script in the Notes app, for example, will straighten and smooth handwritten text in real time. The new Math Notes calculator will automatically solve written equations in the user’s own handwriting and generate interactive graphs based on those equations with a single tap.

Writing Tools

Apple

The new Writing Tools feature will be integrated into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia upon launch. It can proofread the user’s writing and rewrite sections as necessary, as well as summarize text across Apple’s application ecosystem including Mail, Notes, and Pages. Third-party developers will be able to leverage Writing Tools in their own apps via API calls.

For example, within the Mail app, Apple Intelligence will provide the user with short summaries of the contents of their inbox, rather than showing them the first couple lines of the email itself. Smart Reply will suggest responses based on the contents of the message and ensure that the reply addresses all of the questions posed in the original email. The app will even move more timely and pertinent correspondence to the top of the inbox via Priority Messages.

The Notes app will see significant improvements as well. With Apple Intelligence, Notes will offer new audio transcription and summarization features, as well as an integrated calculator, dubbed Math Notes, that solves equations typed into the body of the note.

Image Playground

Apple

Image creation and editing functions will largely be handled by the new Image Playground app, wherein users will be able to spin up generated pictures within seconds and in one of three artistic styles: Animation, Illustration, and Sketch. Image Playground will exist as a standalone app, with many of its features and functions integrated with other Apple apps like Messages.

Apple Intelligence is also coming to your camera roll. The Memories function in the Photos app was already capable of automatically identifying the most significant people, places, and pets in a user’s life, then curating that set of images into a coherent collection set to music. With Apple Intelligence, Memories is getting even better.

The AI will select the photos and videos that best match the user’s input prompt (“best friends road trip to LA 2024,” for example). it will then generate a storyline — including chapters based on themes the AI finds in the selected images — and assemble the whole thing into a short film. Photos users will also gain access to Clean Up, a tool akin to Google’s Magic Eraser, and improved Search functions once Apple Intelligence clears the public beta.

Siri

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Apple Intelligence’s new capabilities will be Siri. Apple’s long-suffering digital assistant will become more deeply integrated into the operating system, with more conversational speech and improved natural language processing.

What’s more, Siri’s memory will be more persistent, allowing the agent to remember details from previous conversations, while the user will be able to more seamlessly switch between spoken and written prompts.

Apple Intelligence privacy

Apple

In order to avoid the costly and embarrassing data leaks that some of its competitors have suffered in recent months, Apple has put privacy at the front and center of the Apple Intelligence experience, even going so far as to build out its own private and secure AI compute cloud, named Private Cloud Compute (PCC), to handle complex user queries.

Most of Apple Intelligence’s routine operations will be handled on-device, using the company’s most recent generations of A17 and M-family processors, said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, during WWDC 2024. “It’s aware of your personal data, without collecting your personal data,” he added.

“When you make a request, Apple Intelligence analyzes whether it can be processed on-device,” Federighi continued. “If it needs greater computational capacity, it can draw on Private Cloud Compute and send only the data that’s relevant to your task to be processed on Apple silicon servers.” This should drastically reduce the chances of private user data being hacked, intercepted, spied upon, and otherwise snooped while in transit between the device and PCC.

“Your data is never stored or made accessible to Apple,” he explained. “It’s used exclusively to fulfill your request and, just like your iPhone, independent experts can inspect the code that runs on these servers to verify this privacy promise.”

Apple Intelligence’s ChatGPT partnership

Apple

Apple Intelligence won’t be the only cutting-edge generative AI taking up residence in your Apple devices come this fall. During WWDC, Apple and OpenAI executives announced that the two companies are launching a partnership that will see ChatGPT functionality (powered by GPT-4o) — including image and text generation — integrated into Siri and Writing Tools. Like Apple Intelligence, ChatGPT will step in if Siri’s onboard capabilities aren’t sufficient for the user’s query, except that ChatGPT will instead send the request to OpenAI’s public compute cloud rather than the PCC.

Users won’t have to navigate away from the Siri screen when leveraging ChatGPT’s capabilities, Siri will state the answer regardless of where the query was handled. To ensure at least a semblance of privacy protections, the device will prompt the user for permission before transmitting the request, along with any documents or images the user has attached.

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