Apple Intelligence is a very US-centric set of AI features, for now

Apple Intelligence iPhone WWDC 2024

One of the biggest expectations ahead of WWDC 2024 was that Apple would dedicate a lot of time to AI features. With the reveal of “Apple Intelligence” it did just that, outlining AI integration across its phones, tablets, and computers.

Part of the next generation of major software updates coming later this year – including iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and Mac Sequoia – Apple Intelligence delivers many features akin to those seen on Samsung and Google devices. Generative AI text and image editing, plus chat functionality, form the core of the experience.

OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT-4o model will also roll out to Apple devices natively as part of the AI update, augmenting Siri’s virtual assistant functionality. However, the early days of Apple Intelligence will be US-centric. Due to launch in beta this spring, it’ll only support US English for starters, with more languages out “over the course of the next year”.

Plus, the device compatibility leaves plenty of iPhone users behind. If you have an iPad or Mac running M1 silicon or newer, you’re all set. But Apple Intelligence only supports the iPhone 15 Pro models equipped with the A17 Pro chip. Apple could feasibly extend device support later – like Samsung did with Galaxy AI – but it hasn’t made any promises.

Siri gets smarter and context-aware

Siri, Apple’s long-standing virtual assistant, is a major beneficiary of Apple Intelligence. Apple claims Siri will be “more deeply integrated into the system experience” as part of the AI update. Reportedly, it will be ” more natural, more contextually relevant, and more personal”.

Apple Intelligence Siri upgrade
Image: Apple.

Instead of just a voice assistant, you’ll soon be able to make Siri requests via text. Helpfully, Siri will factor in the contents of your screen when you make a request. For example, if a contact messages you some details, you can ask Siri to note them down or update older information. It’s a handy upgrade and one that’ll make it easier to find details buried in your inbox, photos, or third-party apps.

ChatGPT comes to Apple Intelligence

Apple confirmed a partnership with OpenAI, integrating ChatGPT at a system level. In practice, it’ll augment existing AI features, asking for your permission each time you want to make a ChatGPT query via Siri, for example.

Based on the new GPT-4o model, the AI functionality extends to generative text production based on text, image, and document prompts. Apple claims that it obscures your IP address when accessing ChatGPT, and any requests aren’t stored by OpenAI. It’s available for free on compatible devices without the need for an account.

Mac ChatGPT integration
Image: Apple.

In terms of overall AI privacy, much of Apple Intelligence runs locally on your device. More complex features, however, require cloud processing. In this instance, Apple revealed its Private Cloud Compute technology. Using servers based on Apple silicon, Private Cloud Compute doesn’t store information in an effort to protect user privacy.

AI writing tools

Apple Intelligence introduces Writing Tools to compatible devices, a system-wide feature that edits and proofreads text across a range of apps. It also summarises longer text into smaller chunks.

Within Writing Tools, Rewrite functions as a tone adjustment feature. Using text you’ve already written, it lets you change it to different versions, along with explanations of any edits. As the name suggests, Summarise provides an overview of selected text in the form of either a short paragraph, dot points, a table, or a list.

At last, Apple now supports transcribed recordings. Via the Notes and Phone apps, you can record audio and get a written transcription and summary, so you don’t forget anything. On phone calls, the feature automatically notifies everyone involved when a recording begins.

Smarter Mail app and notifications

One of the biggest selling points of Apple Intelligence is its ability to understand language and context. Using the Mail app as an example, it now surfaces time-sensitive emails in a new Priority Messages section. So, if you have a booking or a deadline, it’ll bump any relevant emails to the top for quick access.

It even provides summaries of email contents, giving you a glimpse of what’s included without even opening the message. Smart Reply then gives you reply suggestions, taking note of any questions asked by the sender.

Similarly, notifications in general have received an overhaul. Priority Notifications push the most time-sensitive to the fore of your lock screen, and you can also get summaries of group message chains.

Apple Intelligence photo editing

Alongside the generative AI text features, Apple Intelligence includes image generation like Image Playground. This feature creates pictures locally on your device based on text prompts and images on your phone in a range of different styles. When used in the Notes app, Image Playground can transform sketches or create a visual based on the contents of your notes.

Likely to be one of the more popular features, Genmoji gives you the ability to create your own emoji to send in messages. Using a combination of text descriptions and photos on your device, Genmoji adds a more personal touch to emojis.

Apple Genmoji cucumber face
Image: Apple.

Like Google’s Magic Eraser, Apple’s Clean Up tool removes unwanted background objects in your photos. Plus, searching for specific photos should soon be easier. Tapping into Apple Intelligence’s language understanding capabilities, you can search for specific objects or people by writing a description.

Want to find every photo of you in your favourite shirt? Just type away. Likewise, Memories can take provided descriptions and create a photo slideshow based on your request.

Apple Intelligence device compatibility

As mentioned earlier, not all devices will get the beta Apple Intelligence AI features. Here are the confirmed supported devices according to Apple:

  • Phone 15 Pro Max
  • iPhone 15 Pro
  • iPad Pro (M1 and later)
  • iPad Air (M1 and later)
  • MacBook Air (M1 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (M1 and later)
  • iMac (M1 and later)
  • Mac mini (M1 and later)
  • Mac Studio (M1 Max and later)
  • Mac Pro (M2 Ultra)
Apple Intelligence compatibility
Image: Apple.

So, not every device with iOS 18, iPadOS 18, or macOS Sequoia access will get the full feature set. Likewise, Apple Intelligence only supports US English at first, so you’ll need to change your device language to try it out.

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