Apple brings ChatGPT to iPhones and Siri in AI overhaul

By Zoe Kleinman, technology editorLiv Mc Mahon, technology reporter

Reuters Apple boss Tim Cook pictured on stage at WWDC 2024Reuters

Apple boss Tim Cook pictured on stage at WWDC 2024

Apple will boost its Siri voice assistant and operating systems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT as it looks to catch up in the AI ​​race.

The iPhone maker announced the Siri makeover along with other new features at its annual developer fair on Monday.

It’s part of a new custom artificial intelligence system, called “Apple Intelligence,” that aims to give users a way to more easily navigate Apple devices.

Updates to its iPhone and Mac operating systems will enable access to ChatGPT through a partnership with developer OpenAI.

ChatGPT can also be used to power other tools, including text and content generation. The trial version will be available in the fall.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the move would take his company’s products “to new heights” as he opened the Worldwide Developers Conference at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The announcement was not well received by everyone. Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, threatened to ban iPhones from his companies due to “data security.”

“Apple has no idea what really happens once they hand over your data to OpenAI,” Musk said on X. “They’re selling you down the river.”

Apple has faced pressure to introduce new AI features into its products following the rapid rise of rivals adopting the technology.

After Microsoft usurped it as the world’s most valuable company in January, Apple was surpassed again by Nvidia in early June.

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said that while Apple’s new personal AI system “should help placate nervous investors,” its ChatGPT integration may reveal and create deeper problems for the company.

“Arguably this makes Apple admit its limitations given that ChatGPT will be activated at a point where Siri can no longer help a user,” he told the BBC.

Apple has been largely absent in the flood of artificial intelligence products launched by technology companies in recent months.

Cook told investors in 2023 that the company would approach the technology carefully. On Monday those plans were finally presented.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

“Apple Intelligence” is not a product or application in itself.

It will become part of every Apple app and product that customers use, whether it’s a writing assistant that refines your message drafts or your journal, able to show you the best route to get to your next appointment.

In that sense, it’s similar to Microsoft’s Copilot AI assistant, but you won’t have to pay extra to activate it.

Siri, the voice assistant that Apple acquired in 2010, has been updated with a new interface and a chattier approach to help users navigate their devices and apps more seamlessly.

Apple wanted to emphasize the security of Apple Intelligence during Monday’s keynote.

Some processing will take place on the device itself, while larger actions that require more power will be sent to the cloud, but no data will be stored there, he said.

This is vital for customers who pay premium prices for Apple’s privacy promises.

The system “places powerful generative models right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi.

“It relies on your personal context to provide you with the most useful and relevant information for you, and protects your privacy at every step.”

What does the agreement between OpenAI and Apple mean?

Apple’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology had been widely anticipated, but it’s an unusual move for a company that protects its own products so closely.

Google and Microsoft have recently faced scrutiny over mistakes made by their AI products in recent months, with the search giant pulling a new feature in May. after his wrong answers went viral.

For years, Apple also refused to allow its customers to download apps outside of the App Store on the grounds that they might not be secure, and would not allow any web browser other than its own Safari for the same reason.

It only changed when forced by EU legislation.

Is it a sign of recognition that not even Apple can compete with ChatGPT at the moment?

If so, it tells us a lot about the current power of AI supergiant OpenAI.

The firm said it would integrate other products in the future, but did not name any.

Apple announced that its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, will go on sale in the UK on July 12. It has been available in the US since February.

Other new features announced Monday include:

  • send text messages via satellite
  • schedule messages to send at a later time
  • Use head gestures (nodding your head to say yes or shaking your head to say no) to control your AirPods Pro
  • a dedicated password app that can be accessed from all devices
  • the ability to hide certain apps or lock them behind Face ID or passcodes.

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