Apple adopts ChatGPT to put the ‘A’ in AI

At its worldwide developer conference, Apple updated macOS and iOS, making Siri more context-aware

Apple kicked off its worldwide developer conference by taking the plunge into generative AI (GenAI) across macOS and iOS, announcing that it’s deeply integrating Apple Intelligence based on ChatGPT into macOS Sequoia.

It has introduced what it describes as system-wide Writing Tools built into macOS Sequoia, which enable users to rewrite, proof-read and summarise text nearly everywhere they write, including Mail, Notes, Pages and third-party apps.

On iOS, Apple said Apple Intelligence enhances its Siri voice assistant, providing natural, contextually relevant and personal responses to queries. It added that users can also type to Siri, and switch between text and voice to communicate with it in whatever way feels right for the moment. 

In a similar move to what Microsoft did for Android phones, macOS now lets users interact with their iPhone. Users can drag and drop between iPhone and Mac, as well as review and respond to iPhone notifications directly from their Mac.

Apple has also introduced a feature called Private Cloud Compute, which provides users with the ability to flex and scale computational capacity between on-device processing and larger, server-based models that run on dedicated Apple silicon servers. When requests are routed to Private Cloud Compute, data is not stored or made accessible to Apple, and is only used to fulfil the user’s requests.

On the developer front, Apple introduced Swift 6, which it said makes concurrent programming easier. Swift 6 now offers compile-time data-race safety, which diagnoses concurrent access to memory across a developer’s project at compile time. According to Apple, this advancement allows errors to be caught and fixed with minimal changes to the entire codebase, enhancing code safety and maintainability for the future.

The Swift Testing framework offers developers expressive application programming interfaces that simplify writing testing scripts. The framework includes a tagging system to help developers organise their tests and test plans, and supports testing of apps and server applications.

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Forrester vice-president and principal analyst Thomas Husson pointed out that no consumer brand has yet cracked GenAI.

“Apple is no exception, and despite irrational expectations that Apple would announce a breakthrough GenAI innovation today, the reality is that Apple has done what it has always done at its worldwide developer conference: bring tools to its developer community to improve consumer experiences on top of Apple devices,” he said. “Siri’s long-awaited redesign coupled with Apple Intelligence is a promising first step in delivering truly personal and contextual experiences through a more private and multimodal interface.”

According to analyst Gartner, within three years, there will be hardly any conversational platforms left on the market not powered by a large language model. “Chatbots, avatars and virtual assistants without GenAI technology will not be competitive any longer, that’s how disruptive GenAI has become,” it said. 

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, added: “Apple needed to deliver an AI story, and Apple Intelligence should help placate nervous investors and reassure them that Apple is keeping pace with its rivals. The partnership with ChatGPT is a major development which beefs up Apple’s AI offerings, and new features like a significantly improved Siri will be welcome to users.

“Arguably this sees Apple admitting its limitations given ChatGPT will kick in at a point where Siri is no longer able to help a user,” he said. “This does open Apple up to some vulnerability as it has no control over OpenAI’s models.”

While Apple has emphasised its private cloud for secure AI, Wood pointed out that like its rivals, it has had to offer a cloud-based service for some functions. “This comes with unique challenges, and although Apple has created its own private cloud for many functions, the partnership with OpenAI for ChatGPT marks a new direction for Apple which has previously been reluctant to partner for core technology,” he said.

“Apple’s long-held focus on privacy and security means it had to make some tough decisions on how to deliver AI-powered services,” added Wood. “Rather than being able to keep everything on the device, it has had to adopt a hybrid AI solution. This means some processing will be done in the cloud, which has led the company to create its own cloud infrastructure to maintain complete control of users’ data.”

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