Apple Intelligence is ‘promising first step’ for firm’s AI tools, experts say

Apple’s new generative AI tools are a “promising first step” for virtual assistants and will enable the firm to “remain competitive” in the emerging AI market, industry experts have said.

On Monday, the iPhone maker offered the first details on how it will begin integrating its new Apple Intelligence generative AI system into the iPhone, iPad and Mac, where it will be able to create language and images, as well as offer guidance and support on everyday tasks, helping with image and video editing, and general file organisation.

A much-rumoured deal with OpenAI for ChatGPT to be embedded into Apple devices was also confirmed, with the company adding that it hoped to do deals with other AI model developers in the future.

Thomas Husson, principal analyst at Forrester, said: “Let’s face it: it’s still early days for genAI and no consumer-facing brand has really cracked it yet.

“Apple is no exception and despite irrational expectations that Apple would announce a breakthrough genAI innovation today, the reality is that Apple has done what it has always done at its worldwide developer conference: bring tools to its developer community to improve consumer experiences on top of Apple devices.

“Siri’s long-awaited redesign coupled with Apple Intelligence is a promising first step in delivering truly personal and contextual experiences through a more private and multimodal interface.

“Taken in isolation, each announcement looks like a minor incremental innovation to improve the user experience.

“What matters is the total sum of improved experiences that brands will be able to develop on top of devices across Apple’s ecosystem, and how consumers perceive them.

“Apple has always been paying attention to detail and telling a story that benefits people in their daily lives.

“Today, Apple resisted constantly referring to the overhyped GenAI buzz and highlighted that they have been investing in many different AI technologies, such as machine learning, for quite some time.”

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The logo in the window of the Apple Store on Regent Street, London (Yui Mok/PA)

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said Apple’s decision to partner with ChatGPT maker, OpenAI, was a “major development” in the sector, and that it was no surprise to see the company touting its privacy credentials as a way of standing out in this competitive space.

“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,” he said.

“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. ”

Apple’s decision to offer a ChatGPT integration to Apple Intelligence had been widely rumoured yet was still something of a surprise.

“Arguably this sees Apple admitting its limitations given ChatGPT will kick in at a point where Siri is no longer able to help a user.

“This does open Apple up to some vulnerability as it has no control over OpenAI’s models, but also provides a stellar headline AI partnership for the Apple ecosystem.

“Unsurprisingly, as it enters the AI era Apple is dialling up its security credentials as a core pillar of Apple Intelligence.

“However, it will not escape people’s attention that like rivals, it has had to offer a cloud-based solution for some functions.

“This comes with unique challenges and although Apple has created its own private cloud for many functions, the partnership with OpenAI for ChatGPT marks a new direction for Apple which has previously been reluctant to partner for core technology.”

Mr Wood also noted that one of Apple’s new image creation tools, an app called Image Playground that enables users to create AI-generated original images based on a recipe of themes they create, would not generate photorealistic images, to avoid the deep fake issues some of its rivals have encountered.

“Although Apple has announced the ability to use AI to generate images with Image Playground, it is notable that it has offering photorealistic images,” he said.

“Instead, it is sticking with more family-friendly art styles such as illustrations and sketches to reduce the risk of people creating controversial or deep fake imagery.

“This will help it steer clear of the issues that rivals like Google have encountered resulting from inappropriate and offensive generated AI content.

He added: “To date, no rival has yet offered an AI feature or device that poses a genuine threat to Apple.

“Apple Intelligence should do enough to calm investors and show that the company is on a journey to offering more attractive AI applications and experiences, with progress set to continue for many years.”