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Apple shares down despite unveiling raft of AI features

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Shares in tech giant Apple dropped nearly 2% after the company unveiled its long-awaited AI strategy which will see it integrate its new “Apple Intelligence” technology across its suite of apps.

In the nearly two-hour long presentation at Apple’s annual developer conference on Monday, executives including chief executive Tim Cook touted how voice assistant Siri would be able to interact with messages, emails, calendar, as well as third party apps. Siri will be able to write emails and change the tone of voice to suit the occasion.

Long known for a focus on user safety, the iPhone-maker also signalled its plans to differentiate itself from rivals Microsoft and Google by placing privacy “at the core” of its features.

But Wall Street – looking for more dazzling AI features and reassurance that would put Apple in good standing to compete on AI with market-leader Microsoft – was lukewarm on the event.

Apple’s stock, which trails those of other Big Tech firms this year, had rallied 13% last month in the run-up to the event.

Apple’s approach contrasts with the enterprise-first focus of its rivals. The company hopes these moves will convince its more than 1 billion users – most of whom are not tech aficionados – of the need for the nascent technology.

Apple still remains overly reliant on sales of the iPhone and some analysts said any boost from the new AI features was unlikely to materialise in the short term.

The new AI features will come with the latest operating system for its devices.

The revamped Siri voice assistant will have more control, helping it do what has proven tricky in the past because the assistant needed to understand the user’s exact intentions as well as how the app works.

Siri will also tap ChatGPT’s expertise and seek permission from users before querying the OpenAI service as part of Apple’s tie-up with the Microsoft-backed startup, a privacy feature that Apple emphasised.

The ChatGPT integration will be available later this year and other AI features will follow, Apple said, adding that the chatbot could be accessed for free and that users’ information will not be logged.

To power the AI features, Apple plans to use a combination of on-device processing and cloud computing. That means the AI features will only be available on the latest iPhones starting with iPhone 15 Pro, as well as upcoming models.

The company, which has long opposed cloud processing of consumer data over privacy concerns, said its approach would offer more privacy protections as it plans to use in-house chips in data centres that come baked with security features.

Apple also said the new iOS 18, the software powering its flagship device, will make the iPhone home screen more customizable.

It will come with a “lock an app” feature that will help people protect sensitive information. Users can opt to lock specific apps and keep data more tightly controlled in the operating system.

The company is also making its mixed-reality headset Vision Pro available in eight more countries including China and Japan. The new VisionOS 2 software for the headset will use machine learning to create natural depth photos and come with new gestures.

Reuters

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