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Apple unveils AI features in major revamp of software for iPhones, Macs and iPads

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The tech giant’s new ‘Apple Intelligence’ upgrades will allow users to search for things across devices using a single question. Apple also revealed that ChatGPT will be integrated into its devices.

The upgrade is part of a slew of new AI features for Apple products, including MacBooks and iPads, in what is one of the biggest ‘real world’ introductions of artificial intelligence into the lives of millions of ordinary people.

When introduced later this year in iOS 18, the AI will allow questions to iPhones such as ‘where did Mam and I say we would eat tonight and how long is to get there?’ or ‘pick out a few pictures of me and my daughter and make them bright and colourful’.

The company also announced a deal with ChatGPT, which will be free to use on its phones and laptops, to underpin some of the technology.

Other new features announced include article summarisation, AI replies to emails and messages, AI image generation for texts and AI corrections to documents.

At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in California, the company has dubbed the new features as ‘Apple Intelligence’.

The new AI features won’t automatically appear on iPhones, Macs and iPads but will be offered on an ‘opt in’ basis, for those who want them.

AI systems such as ChatGPT, Google Gemini and Microsoft’s Copilot are generally paid-for apps or log-in services that have not yet reached a critical mass.

Apple is integrating all of the new features for free inside its mass market devices.

However, some of cutting edge features with the technology will initially only be available on high-end iPhones, high-end iPads and recently-bought Macs.

This, Apple says, is because of the engine power required for the AI features to work, which means it is restricting the features to the iPhone 15 Pro, as well as iPads and Macs with at least an M1 chip.

Some analysts said that this device requirement might also be influenced by Apple’s desire to boost demand for its higher-end iPhone sales this September when the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro is launched. The world’s best-selling mobile handset has seen demand flag this year amid heavy competition in China and geopolitical trade concerns.

Apple says that it will protect the privacy of users by either doing the AI processing on the devices and away from the web or, when ‘cloud’ access is required to complete a task, by taking extra security measures in the data centres it uses. It also said that AI user profiles won’t be generated using individuals’ customer data.

“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,” said Ben Wood, an analyst with CCS Insight.

“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.”

Separately, Apple announced that its Vision Pro headset, released in the US earlier last year, will now go on sale in more countries. However, although the UK is included, Ireland is not yet a launch country for the company’s €3,500 face computer.

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