Unsurprisingly, Apple Intelligence is the Most Exciting AI Reveal So Far

Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering standing in front of an Apple Intelligence presentation at WWDC 2024
Credit: Apple

Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering standing in front of an Apple Intelligence presentation at WWDC 2024
Credit: Apple

WWDC is one of Apple’s most significant events each year, and the 2024 showcase started with a bang. Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, dramatically skydived over "the spaceship," better known as Apple Park in California. Apple clearly wants to convey its serious intent, and nearly two hours of announcements prove that.

There was no announcement for the iPhone 16 or the rumored foldable iPhone. Instead, WWDC focused on Apple’s operating systems, including the upcoming iOS 18 release and updates to the Apple Vision Pro’s VisionOS, hailed as one of the best VR headsets. However, the most significant announcement was about AI integration in Apple products.

Apple has named its AI "Apple Intelligence," seamlessly blending the acronym into its brand style. Apple recognizes its late entry into the AI trend, partnering with OpenAI's ChatGPT-4o, the best AI chatbot, and introducing other impressive features. This development has genuinely sparked my excitement for AI for the first time.

Apple Intelligence isn’t the only AI tool in the smartphone market. Samsung introduced Galaxy AI features in its S24 phones earlier this year and extended some tools to older models. However, Apple Intelligence aims to make a significant impact. Starting with the basics, users will soon learn how to create Genmojis, generated emojis in any style they imagine.

This is just the beginning of Apple’s AI advancements. One of the most exciting features is Siri’s long-overdue overhaul, which includes a new (albeit unattractive) logo. Siri now sounds more natural, accommodates more user errors, and interacts with other apps. Best of all, you can finally type when interacting with Siri, a feature already available with many other assistants. Siri also has on-screen awareness, understanding your needs based on the current app you’re using.

What are your thoughts on Apple Intelligence?

What if Siri can't handle your request? The rumors about iOS 18’s AI features materialized during WWDC, confirming a partnership between OpenAI and Apple. If Siri can’t manage a task, it will prompt you to use ChatGPT-4o to complete the request. You don’t need a paid ChatGPT subscription to access advanced OpenAI models, but subscribing does provide enhanced benefits.

Unsurprisingly, privacy is a fundamental aspect of Apple Intelligence, a hallmark of Apple’s ethos. Many features operate on-device, but those requiring more processing power use the cloud. Apple refers to this as the "Private Cloud Compute," which ensures your data is never stored or accessible, and Apple is also inviting experts to review the code to verify these claims.

The reason I’m excited is that Apple Intelligence feels like the first genuine AI toolset capable of enhancing daily activities. While Galaxy AI tools and the ASUS ROG Phone 8’s features are intriguing, Apple Intelligence has the potential to leverage your entire device and serve as a dedicated AI assistant, a goal many companies strive for with their chatbots and models.

You could ask it to manage your morning routine: play your favorite playlist, adjust your smart lights to a warm yellow, send messages to friends and family, and much more as the technology evolves. Apple Intelligence represents the most exciting application of AI yet, and Apple’s focus on quality and privacy sets it apart in a sea of AI mediocrity.

However, there’s a significant, costly limitation. Apple Intelligence is currently only available on iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models and will be available on Macs with M1 or later chips. This leaves many users with iPhone 15s or older devices excluded from Apple’s biggest WWDC announcement. However, I expect it to become more readily available on basic iPhone models with the release of iPhone 16.

That being said, Apple Intelligence is the first AI development that has truly excited me. Unlike Google AI's controversial suggestions or harmful content created by Copilot, Apple Intelligence feels empowering, putting the user first rather than catering to those seeking profit at the expense of others.

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What are your thoughts on Apple Intelligence?