Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Apple’s AI features for the iPhone just hit a major roadblock


Summarization of notification and emails on iPhone with Apple Intelligence.Apple

Earlier this week, the EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, told CNBC that Apple had some “very serious” issues as it tries to comply with the landmark Digital Markets Act (DMA) tech legislation. These were the rules that finally forced Apple to open iPhones for alternative app stores, allow external browser engines, and enable third-party payment options, among other things. It seems those rules also mean the best of iOS 18 won’t make it to the EU bloc either.

Apple has confirmed that a trio of crucial iPhone upgrades that it announced at WWDC 2024 earlier this month won’t appear on iPhones in the EU later this year. The biggest of those would be Apple Intelligence, the suite of AI features deeply integrated within iOS 18 that are aimed at redefining what iPhones can do in the age of generative AI tools like Google’s Gemini and Microsoft’s Copilot.

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In fact, a smarter Siri was among Apple Intelligence’s biggest draws. The ability to mirror an iPhone’s UI on a connected Mac and SharePlay Screen Sharing updates that let users remotely annotate and even take control of another device are also on the chopping block.


“We are concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and data security,” the company said in an official statement. Apple adds that it is working with regulatory authorities in the EU to ensure that the three aforementioned features make it to iPhone users in the region, but there is no certainty about it.

It is worth noting here that none of the three features mentioned above have arrived as part of the first iOS 18 Developer Beta update. We are expecting them to appear in a later build. As far as Apple Intelligence goes, Bloomberg reports that some of those AI tricks will only appear next year, while the Apple Intelligence bundle will only start appearing later in the summer. Unfortunately, none of them will appear for enthusiasts in the EU bloc.

Another aspect here could hurt users. Interoperability is among the core tenets of the DMA rulebook, while Apple argues that this interoperability could jeopardize the security and privacy of user data. Take, for example, a feature like screen mirroring and Apple Intelligence, both of which are supposed to work across the iPhone and the Mac.


Will Apple’s latest move also mean Mac users in the EU miss out on a handful of crucial AI features that would otherwise have greeted them with the public rollout of macOS Sequoia? We are not sure, but for now, it seems silicon is not the only “great divider” when it comes to experiencing the best of Apple in 2024 and beyond.

It seems the road ahead won’t be easy. “Gatekeepers are welcome to offer their services in Europe, provided that they comply with our rules aimed at ensuring fair competition,” the European Commission said in a statement shared with the Financial Times. However, Apple wouldn’t want to miss a crucial moneymaking opportunity here.

Apple Intelligence, for example, will only run on the latest iPhone 15 Pro models, and iPads/Macs with at least an M-series silicon. That would mean there’s a whole spectrum of potential buyers likely willing to upgrade owing to these AI-assisted enhancements.

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