Apple Intelligence – everything you need to know about your iPhone’s new big brain

Apple Intelligence – everything you need to know about your iPhone’s new big brain

Apple Intelligence – We see what you did there. Clever, clever. We can picture the meeting with everybody sitting around a massive opaque boardroom table when some bright spark says, ‘“What about calling it Apple Intelligence – you know – A.I.?”

And from then on it was inevitable.

Apple has announced it is getting on board the AI bullet train at its latest conference which has caused a mixture of delight and terror depending on where you stand in terms of loyalty to Cupertino. There are lots of questions to unpack here, some of which we are still waiting for Apple to provide the answers to, but these are important times – we are all about to start carrying a supercharged Siri in our pockets and that could just change the way we live, just as the launch of the original iPhone did all those years back. Welcome Apple Intelligence.

What is Apple Intelligence?

Besides being, and we have to admit it, a great name, Apple Intelligence is Apple’s new cross-platform artificial intelligence enhancement that is about to make its way onto more recent iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and presumably every new iteration we ever see from here on in.

By now we have all seen generative AI writing (usually hamfistedly) for us with things like Co-Pilot and ChatGPT and I am sure we have all seen the six-fingered monstrosity that AI image generation can come up with, but equally, we have all been amazed at just how quickly the tech across the board is improving.

History tells us that Apple is not afraid to not be first to the market with something, but when it eventually shows its hand, it ends up with a product that becomes a mainstay of our lives, regardless of whether other companies did it first, or even did it better.

iMessage, Apple Maps, Siri even Apple Home have all wormed their way into our everyday lives by being simple and effective tools. Assuming Apple can make Apple Intelligence as useful to us, it’s hard to see it going away, well ever.

What can you do with Apple Intelligence?

Apple is promising that Apple Intelligence will have unprecedented access to your data, and that sounds scary, but in true Apple form, they want to convince us that it’s not. Apple touts itself devices as being secure and private and we will look into what that means for AI further down the page. For now, though, you need to know that Apple Intelligence will have access to all your stuff.

With this unprecedented access, it can utilize your calendar, read your messages and emails, and scan your photographs (yes even those ones!) to see what’s going on and tag them accordingly. It will even listen to and transcribe your calls.

Apple Intelligence will take what you write and check it for errors – rich for a system that insisted on autocorrecting everything ducking thing I ever wrote. Just like ChatGPT and Co-Pilot it can offer advice on revisions or even re-write or write your email from scratch.

What is Genmoji?

When it comes to image generation Apple is not giving us an empty prompt line with the ability to create everything, instead, it is giving us Genmoji! Now we can ask it to generate an emoji in any style and it will come up with it. “Chihuahua eating Mexican food.” Sounds good to us.

Apple’s main image AI focus seems to be analyzing the pics and vids you take yourself and being useful in that regard. If you want to find the vis from 2016 of your kid scoring the winning goal in a Cup Final it will do that for you. It’s perhaps wise to stay away from out-and-out image generation as there are other companies constantly improving their offerings almost weekly and it would be easy for Apple Intelligence to quickly fall behind.

Siri and Apple Intelligence

The first thing I do with any new iPhone is change Siri’s voice to an Irish lass and now she is going to become a whole lot more real. Siri will now remember what you asked it before. It will be contextually aware and it will even be able to see what is happening on your screen. Siri is basically being reborn here as a helpful AI personal assistant and Alexa will be panicking.

You will be able to ask Siri to check where your Uber is or find out how long your flight is delayed. Yes, you could do that yourself, but now you won’t have to.

Apple Intelligence – the privacy elephant in the room

We live in a time where we are told to keep all our information private. Keep your secrets under the bed. Generative AI is training from all your stuff. Heck, it will be reading this and Google will be stealing my words to present as its own so you never have to come to the page ever again. Why on earth would you want Apple to have access to everything you do on your phone, tablet, or laptop?

Apple has anticipated the pushback here. For years it has touted itself as the king of mobile privacy. End-to-end encrypted messages, refusals to help out low enforcements, and the like – Apple has positioned itself as you being in control of your data. It even lets you sign up for things with burner email addresses so you can’t be constantly spammed.

But Gen AI is a different ballgame as generally the processing is done on a powerful computer level and people are taught not to let their phones just ship off all their contacts to a mainframe in a different continent.

Apple is saying that the majority of AI will be carried out on device – which is why you will need the power of a newer model (probably, that’s not just an upgrade ploy – probably). More complicated AI tasks will be pushed to a private AI cloud with everything encrypted so nobody knows what anything is.

The fact that ChatGPT will be present questions this as OpenAI, well OpenAI is gonna train! But your iPhone will hide your IP address. We will need to see how this works in practice but it is not in Apple’s best interest here to get caught out embellishing the levels of its privacy, and people far cleverer than me will be looking when it arrives.

When is Apple Intelligence released?

Developers can get their little coding hands on Apple Intelligence right now. It’s there in the iOS and macOS betas.

We, as the general public can expect to get it alongside iOS 18 in September, generally a week or so before the inevitable new phone launches. If you sign up for the public betas you may get to test out some features in advance.

Can my iPhone / iPad run Apple Intelligence?

Here’s the kicker. Possibly not. The vast majority of iPhones in pockets right now will not be able to. To get technical your device needs an M1, M2, M3 or M4 chip, or the A17 Pro chipset.

So what does that mean non-nerds? If you have a current iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max you will get Apple Intelligence with your iOS 18 but if you have a normal iPhone 15 or below, it’s upgrade time.

Current-gen iPad Air and Pro will also get it as the internals are powerful enough but basic-level iPads, well it’s not for you.

Apple Intelligence is a feature that more and more people will get as time goes on as the upgrade cycle continues and Apple is hoping to offer enough in this space to keep you within its ecosystem for many years to come.

Images courtesy of Apple

The post “Apple Intelligence – everything you need to know about your iPhone’s new big brain” by Paul McNally was published on 06/11/2024 by