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Apple Intelligence: Privacy and Exclusivity or Simple Marketing?

This week was Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and in this post, I wanted to reflect on the new developments presented in Artificial Intelligence.

I must confess that I have been an Apple brand enthusiast for many years. I have consumed any content related to the company since the days of Steve Jobs and did not miss any of its announcements or events. The magic of Apple, under Jobs’ vision, fascinated me and kept me ever expectant of the next great innovations.

However, since Jobs’ death, I feel that the company has lost that innovative touch that characterized it. Instead of surprising us with new and disruptive technologies, Apple seems to have limited itself to incremental updates of its operating systems and devices. Each recent release seems more like an iteration of the previous one than a true technological revolution.

Steve Jobs El blog de Salvador Vilalta

It has reached a point where I refuse to change devices every now and then. Apple’s value proposition no longer seems so justified to me. Innovation has stagnated. and, with exceptions such as the new space vision system, the sense of witnessing something truly new and exciting has faded.

I miss Steve Jobs very much. His ability to inspire and lead innovation at Apple was unmatched. Under him, every company event and announcement felt like a glimpse into the future. Now, I feel we are stuck in a rut of marginal improvements and commercial strategies.

Source: Apple
Apple Intelligence at the recent WWDC

After nearly two years of waiting, Apple has finally made the leap to generative artificial intelligence, as announced by Tim Cook at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). While the new features presented are exciting and promise to make our devices smarter and more useful than ever, a closer look reveals significant limitations in the scope of this technological advancement.

New Apple Intelligence features

During the WWDC keynote, Apple introduced its new Apple Intelligence system and a deep revamp of Siri, both available in the new iOS 18 operating system. Notable improvements include:

  • Siri Enhanced: Now, with local natural language processing, speed and privacy are improved.
  • Writing tools: Apple’s operating system applications can access Generative AI to facilitate writing and summarising texts.
  • Apple Vision Pro: Provides real-time environment recognition and enables natural interactions with advanced AI.
  • Personalized Health: Machine learning algorithms for health anomaly detection and personalized recommendations in the Apple Health app.
  • Advanced Computational Photography: New versions of Smart HDR and enhanced night mode using AI.
Here is a summary of the most relevant aspects of this launching
Apple Intelligence functionalities Blos Salvador Vilalta
The Apple Intelligence Engine

The Apple Intelligence engine is based on the new A17 Bionic chip, which includes a next-generation neural engine designed specifically for artificial intelligence tasks. This chip enables highly efficient on-device processing, reducing the need to send data to the cloud and improving privacy and response speed.

However, for certain processing-intensive tasks, Apple continues to use its cloud infrastructure. This is crucial for functions such as continuous learning and updating AI models, where the power of the cloud is indispensable.

Chip A17Bionic Apple
Source: Apple
Enhanced Privacy and Security
Private Cloud Compute el Blog de Salvador Vilalta
Source: Apple

One of Apple’s flagships has been its commitment to privacy. With the new Apple Intelligence system, this commitment is maintained and extended with the concept of secure cloud processing:

  • On-Device Processing: Most data processing is done on-device, minimizing the need to send information to external servers and reducing the risk of privacy violations.
  • Private Cloud Compute: For tasks that require high processing power, Apple has introduced Private Cloud Compute. This system allows more complex AI models to be run in the cloud, while ensuring that user data is never permanently stored on servers. The data is used only for the specific request and then discarded, ensuring privacy.
  • Strict Privacy Policy: Apple continues to implement strict policies to ensure that users’ data is handled with the utmost respect for their privacy. This includes the use of anonymization techniques and advanced encryption to protect user information at all stages of processing.

Apple has released a fact sheet on its approach to privacy and security, highlighting principles such as careful design, authentic user representation, and privacy protection with powerful on-device and cloud processing tools.

ChatGPT integration
Chat GPT Apple Intelligence
Source: Apple

One of the most interesting Apple Intelligence integrations is the incorporation of OpenAI’s ChatGPT into Siri and Scripting Tools. This integration allows Siri to access ChatGPT’s vast knowledge base to answer more complex questions and provide advanced assistance. In addition, in the Writing Tools, users can use ChatGPT to generate and review content, providing detailed suggestions and stylistic improvements. This synergy between Apple and OpenAI significantly enhances the functionality of Siri and productivity applications.

I leave you with an interesting video made by Jon Hernandez in relation to this event.

Apple Intelligence: A small, personalized approach

Apple has taken a smaller, more targeted approach to its artificial intelligence models compared to other tech giants that prefer large, generalized models. Apple’s strategy focuses on creating smaller models, trained on custom data sets designed specifically for the functionality required by users of its operating systems.

This smaller, more targeted approach allows for greater transparency and a better user experience, avoiding the “bigger is better” approach.

Limitations and criticisms

Despite the innovations, the limited availability of these features to the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max models, , as well as to devices with at least an M1 chip,  raises several criticisms:

  • Restricted Accessibility: Less than 7% of iPhone users will be able to benefit from these enhancements without upgrading to a new device.
  • Commercial Strategy: This strategy can be seen as a tactic to drive sales of new iPhones, leaving many current users without access to the latest AI technologies.
  • Technological Inclusivity: Excluding most users can be counterproductive in a world where technology should be increasingly accessible.
Apple intelligence funcionalidades El Blog de Salvador Vilalta

As I commented at the start of this post, with the presentation of Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024, my expectations were once again high, but once again, the reality seems to be less exciting than the promise.

I find myself questioning whether Apple can ever again be that disruptive force in technology that it once was. Is this the new Apple standard? Have we resigned ourselves to expect less from a company that used to give everything?

What do you think? I would love to know your personal opinion on this and I would be grateful if you could leave it in the comments.

Have a good week!

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