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Apple Intelligence – Everything you need to know about the iPhone’s new brain

Apple Intelligence – We know what you mean. Really smart. We can imagine the meeting, with everyone sitting around a giant opaque conference table, when some smart person says, “‘How about calling it Apple Intelligence?’ You know? ‘AI’?”

From that point on, it was inevitable.

Apple’s latest announcement of artificial intelligence was a mixed blessing, depending on your Apple allegiance. There are a lot of questions here, some of which we’re still waiting for Apple to answer, but it’s a big moment – we’re about to start carrying a super Siri in our pockets that could change the way we live, just as the first iPhone did all those years ago. Welcome to Apple Intelligence.

What is Apple Intelligence?

We have to admit, Apple Intelligence is not only a great name, but it’s Apple’s new cross-platform artificial intelligence enhancement that’s coming to newer iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and presumably every new version we see from now on.

By now we’ve all seen generative AI write code for us (often clumsily) through the likes of Co-Pilot and ChatGPT, and I’m sure we’ve all seen AI image generation come up with six-fingered monsters, but equally, we’ve all been surprised at how quickly the whole technology is advancing.

History tells us that Apple doesn’t worry about not being the first to market with a product, but when it finally shows its prowess, its products eventually become mainstream in our lives, regardless of whether other companies did it first or did it better.

iMessage, Apple Maps, Siri, and even Apple Home have become simple and effective tools that have become part of our daily lives. Assuming Apple can make Apple Intelligence equally useful to us, it will be hard, if not impossible, for it to disappear.

What can you do with Apple Intelligence?

Apple promises that Apple Intelligence will have unprecedented access to your data, which sounds scary, but Apple would like us to believe that it isn’t. Apple claims that its devices are secure and private, and we’ll explore what this means for AI below. But for now, you need to know that Apple Intelligence will have access to all of your content.

With this unprecedented access, it can tap into your calendar, read your messages and emails, and scan your photos (yes, even those!) to understand what’s going on and tag it accordingly. It can even listen to and transcribe your phone calls.

Apple Intelligence checks what you write for errors — pretty cool for a system that insists on autocorrecting everything I’ve ever written. Like ChatGPT and Co-Pilot, it can suggest changes or even rewrite or start your email from scratch.

What are Genmoji?

When it comes to image generation, instead of giving us an empty prompt that can create anything, Apple gave us Genmoji! Now we can ask it to generate any style of emoji, and it will do it for us. “Chihuahua eating Mexican food.” Sounds good.

The main focus of Apple’s image AI seems to be analysing the photos and videos you take yourself, and being useful in that regard. If you want to find that video of your kid scoring the winning goal in the cup final in 2016, it’ll do it for you. It’s probably wise to stay away from outright image generation, as other companies are constantly improving their products almost weekly, and Apple AI could easily fall behind quickly.

Siri and Apple Intelligence

The first thing I do with any new iPhone is change Siri’s voice to that of an Irish girl, and now she’ll be more realistic. Siri will now remember what you’ve asked it before. It’ll be contextually aware and even able to see what’s happening on the screen. Siri is basically reborn here as a helpful AI personal assistant, and Alexa will panic.

You’ll be able to ask Siri to check where your Uber is or find out how long your flight is delayed. Yes, you can do these things yourself, but now you don’t have to.

Apple Intelligence: Privacy issues cannot be ignored

We live in an age where we are told to keep all information private. Hide your secrets under your bed. Generative AI is being trained from all your stuff. Oops, it will read this, Google will steal my words to present as its own so you never have to come back to this page again. Why on earth would you give Apple access to everything you do on your phone, tablet or laptop?

Apple has anticipated this. For years, it has touted itself as the king of mobile privacy. End-to-end encrypted messages, refusing to help weak law enforcement, etc. – Apple positions itself as a data controller. It even allows you to sign up with a temporary email address so you don’t keep getting spam.

But artificial intelligence is a completely different story, because processing is usually done on a powerful computer level, and people are taught not to have their phones send all their contacts to a host computer on a different continent.

Apple says most of the AI ​​will be performed on-device, which is why you need the power of the new models (maybe, this isn’t just an upgrade strategy — maybe). More complex AI tasks will be pushed to a private AI cloud, and everything is encrypted so no one knows what everything is.

The emergence of ChatGPT has called OpenAI into question, because OpenAI does train! But your iPhone hides your IP address. We need to see how this works in practice, but it’s not in Apple’s best interest to be caught exaggerating its privacy levels, and people much smarter than me will be watching when it comes.

When will Apple Intelligence be released?

Developers can start programming with Apple Intelligence today. It’s available in beta for iOS and macOS.

We, as the general public, can expect to get it in September alongside iOS 18, generally about a week before the new phones are released. If you sign up for the public beta, you might be able to test some features early.

Can my iPhone/iPad run Apple Intelligence?

The point is, probably not. The vast majority of iPhones in your pocket right now can’t do that. From a technical standpoint, your device needs an M1, M2, M3, or M4 chip, or the A17 Pro chipset.

So what does this mean for non-tech geeks? If you have one of the latest iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max, you’ll get Apple Intelligence in iOS 18, but if you own a regular iPhone 15 or lower, it’s time to upgrade.

The current generation iPad Air and Pro will also get it, as the internals are powerful enough, but the base-level iPad isn’t for you.

As the upgrade cycle continues, more and more people will gain access to Apple Intelligence features, and Apple will want to provide enough functionality in this area to keep you in its ecosystem for many years to come.

Image courtesy of Apple

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