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Apple integrates ChatGPT as AI steals the show at WWDC 2024

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Apple unveiled a wave of generative AI features that are coming to its devices and has partnered with OpenAI to boost its generative AI capabilities.

Apple has finally made a big move in the AI space, as the technology was the main talking point at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) launch.

Before this event, Apple had kept itself away from the generative AI hype that has been the focus of many other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Samsung. But there were reports that Apple was planning a major AI announcement.

At the WWDC keynote yesterday (10 June), Apple showed its hand and revealed a wave of AI features for its key products, in the form of Apple Intelligence. The company is also partnering with ChatGPT creator OpenAI to boost its AI offerings – to the annoyance of xAI owner Elon Musk.

Apple Intelligence

The key reveal at WWDC 2024 was Apple Intelligence, the company’s “personal intelligence system” that will be available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users later this year. The system will be integrated in the latest OS for these products and give users the power of generative AI.

Apple said this system will be able to understand and create language and images, take actions across various apps and be used to simplify everyday tasks – what we’ve come to expect from generative AI announcements.

Some of the specific features showcased by Apple include Rewrite, which will give users alternative versions of something they have just written to find the right tone and style. Users will also be able to take complicated or large amounts of writing and have it transformed into a more digestible paragraph with the Summarise tool.

The features that are being showcased from Apple Intelligence are broad, as Apple intends to bring this AI offering across many of its apps. Priority Notifications on iPhones, Priority Messages on the email app, AI-summarised audio and boosted image creation are only the tip of this generative AI iceberg.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Intelligence is a “new chapter” in Apple innovation and said it will “transform what users can do with our products”.

“Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence. And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them,” Cook said. “This is AI as only Apple can deliver it, and we can’t wait for users to experience what it can do.”

OpenAI partnership

Apple also made a big announcement in the form of a partnership with OpenAI, one of the key players in the generative AI wave being witnessed in the tech sector.

The two companies revealed that OpenAI’s flagship product – ChatGPT – will be integrated across Apple devices. This will allow Apple’s Siri assistant to use ChatGPT – provided users agree to send questions to the OpenAI product first.

ChatGPT’s writing and image capabilities will also be available for Apple users so they can quickly access the product’s generative AI capabilities. Apple said its customers will be able to access ChatGPT for free without creating an account, while ChatGPT subscribers can connect their accounts and access paid features from Apple devices.

“We’re excited to partner with Apple to bring ChatGPT to their users in a new way,” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. “Apple shares our commitment to safety and innovation, and this partnership aligns with OpenAI’s mission to make advanced AI accessible to everyone. Together with Apple, we’re making it easier for people to benefit from what AI can offer.

The development is not sitting well with billionaire Musk, who is working on his own generative AI offerings to compete with OpenAI – Musk has also had a contentious relationship with both companies in the past.

In a recent X post, Musk criticised the partnership as an “unacceptable security violation” and threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies if the integration with OpenAI goes ahead.

Upcoming OS systems

Apple Intelligence is the key feature for Apple’s upcoming updates for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, but other, smaller upgrades were announced for these systems. WWDC 2024 showed some of the key features for iOS 18, iPad OS 18 and MacOS Sequoia, which will all be released later this year.

Apple’s iOS 18 will have a focus on customisation and will come with a redesigned Control Centre, the ability to hide or lock apps, new lighting options for app icons and the ability to reshape and resize controls. Some features are less exciting, such as the ability to personalise the home screen by moving app icons around – not exactly a new feature for smartphones.

Users will also be able to add animated effects to messages they send and will be able to create their own emojis – we can only hope this feature does not get abused by its users.

Vision Pro expansion

Apple also made some announcements regarding its VR ambitions, with new capabilities for its Vision Pro device and an expansion to new markets.

The Vision Pro will be available for pre-order this week for customers in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore. On 28 June, this pre-order will be expanded to customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK. The product is expected to be available for these countries by 12 July.

This expansion is being supported by an upgrade to the machine’s software – VisionOS 2 – which will be available later this year. This new OS system has various new features, letting users take existing photos and quickly transform them into spatial photos to suit a VR environment.

VisionOS 2 will also let users quickly edit photos and videos, while offering new ways to customise the Vision Pro Home View section.

But Apple still has a tough market to face, as Meta is a strong competitor in the VR market with its cheaper line of Quest headsets. Sony also threw its hat in the VR ring this year with a “spatial” headset that comes with a smart control ring.

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