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Apple Intelligence Explained - AI for newer Apple Silicon

Updated: Jun 15

Microsoft and Google have dived hard into AI this year, and it was only a matter of time before Apple jumped in to grab a piece of that pie. During its WWDC24 keynote, the California giant finally unveiled its personal intelligence model and they've named it "Apple Intelligence" in true Apple fashion.

Apple Intelligence will finally bring Generative AI, an improved Siri, Writing Improvements, and other smart features to the Apple Ecosystem. Still, the majority of older Apple's products will have to miss out these new machine-learning advancements.

Apple Restricts "Apple Intelligence" to newer iPhones, iPads, and Macs

Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence is something we all knew was coming and as expected, it'll arrive fully integrated (in Beta) with iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, later this fall. However, just like the competition, Apple has restricted its personal intelligence model to newer hardware. Only the latest Pro-iPhones and M-series SoC-powered Macs and iPads will get these upgrades.

"Apple Intelligence" eligible devices

  • iPhone 15 Pro (A17 Pro)

  • iPhone 15 Pro Max (A17 Pro)

  • iPad Pro, iPad Air (M1 and later)

  • Macbook Air, Macbook Pro (M1 and later)

  • iMac, Mac Mini (M1 or later)

  • Mac Studio (M1 Max and later)

  • Mac Pro (M2 Ultra)

Of course, as the company announces new iPhones later this year, they should be compatible as well, but even the regular iPhone 15 isn't getting the new intelligent features. The same goes for upcoming Macs and at least in this case, the first Apple silicon models are supported as well.

What "Apple Intelligence" is offering

The closest comparison I can draw to Apple Intelligence is probably with Google's Pixel AI, but there are several unique features that Apple is bringing to the table. These updates are sprinkled all over the OS and Apple apps. However, if you want, Siri (which also got the AI treatment) can also summon ChatGPT for more complicated tasks it can't handle on its own.

Improvements to Writing

Perhaps the biggest improvements with Apple Intelligence were made in writing and productivity. The new "Rewrite" tool helps users with different versions of the text they have written and users can even select a specific mood for their text. There is also a new "Proofread" option for writing professionals as well as the regular user.

Apple Intelligence

There are multiple improvements in the Notes app as well. When you write with the Apple Pencil on a supported iPad, Apple Intelligence can now improve your handwriting while keeping your original style. A new feature called "Image Wand" can transform rough sketches into related images when you Circle that rough image with the Apple Pencil.

iPad's new Calculator now solves Math problems

The iPad now finally has a calculator app. While this could have been a slow news day for Apple, they added a new feature called "Math Notes" which is capable of solving handwritten mathematical equations. It can also use the values of variables written on the screen to solve complex equations and create a graph if needed. This is an excellent feature for students and working professionals who rely on solving equations every single day.

Siri is now more advanced

If you were just as frustrated as me with Siri and how little it can do compared to Google Assistant, that is changing as it gets Apple intelligence integration. It has a brand new look, you can finally type your query instead of speaking to it all the time. It is also more contextually aware of the user and has a richer language understanding.

Apple Intelligence

Siri is now better integrated into the Apple ecosystem and it should be way smarter and much more useful thanks to all the intelligence improvements. However, if it's stuck or finds something beyond its capability, it can also access OpenAI's ChatGPT 4o with the user's permission. However, the company claims that privacy shouldn't be an issue.

Image Generation is finally here alongside Genmoji

Apple boards the image generation train with "Image Playground". You can now describe an image, and your iPhone, iPad, or Mac can generate that image in three style variations: Illustration, Animation, and Sketch. You can also use several other parameters to personalize the image.

Alongside having a dedicated app, Image Playground is also integrated directly into apps like Notes (Image Wand), Keynote, Freeform, and Pages. Third-party developers can also enable this feature for their apps.

Apple Intelligence

Something Apple is doing uniquely is generative emoji which they've named "Genmoji". This works similarly to image generation and you need to type in the description for the emoji you're trying to create. It will also work for people using their photos. The idea of creating an emoji from scratch is excellent, but there is no information on whether these emojis will display properly on other non-Apple operating systems.

"Photos" is now smarter

The way Google Photos improved for Pixels was only a matter of time before Apple updated its Photos app with smart features. Photos can now understand natural language search queries, so you can just type in what you are looking for and the app can find specific photos related to your query.

A new "Clean Up" feature was introduced which works exactly like Google's Magic Eraser. You select or circle specific objects or people to remove them from your photo. Google and Samsung users have had this feature for a while, so it's a welcome addition for the Apple crowd.

Apple Intelligence

The "Memories" feature is now also smarter as it can handpick the best pictures and videos to create memory movies based on the user's description. The app also creates Memory albums on its own and keeps them below your photo library.

Private Cloud Compute takes a stand against LLMs accessing your data (kind of)

Apple has created a private ecosystem where most of the user's tasks are already being done on-device at a silicon level. This further improves with Apple Intelligence, but the company is also introducing "Private Cloud Compute" for enhanced cloud security.

It has the ability to scale its computational capacity to draw on larger server-based Large Language Models (LLMs) when needed. These models are hosted on "Apple Silicon"-powered servers, so the data doesn't leave Apple's ecosystem and there is no need to send the data to third-party LLMs and risk security.

There is one exception though as OpenAI should have some access because of the systemwide ChatGPT integration with Siri. While the company is standing its ground on not risking user data in this process, I'm not sure if this will be as safe as advertised.

Phone and Notes apps get Audio Recording with Summaries

On supported Apple Silicon devices, users will be able to record calls in the Phone app and those recordings can also be summarized. Of course, the person at the other end of the call will be notified upfront if you start a call recording. The Notes app has also received this feature and it can now use transcripts from audio recordings and summarize those as well.

Intellliegnce accross the entire Operating System

Apple also integrated Apple Intelligence across the entire operating system of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. This includes Priority Notifications, Priority Messages & Smart Reply in Emails, and many more system-level tweaks which should make the user experience more seamless. Overall, Apple's AI implementation might just be one the best yet, but we still need real-world results to draw any comparisons.

Trying to get Apple users to upgrade to newer devices

It sure seems like, with these new Apple Intelligence features, the company is also trying to get its users to upgrade to newer Apple Products. Firstly limiting this to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max brings a clear message that, if you want the smart features, you must upgrade your old iPhone and buy the most expensive Pro models Apple makes. I'm sure these will also work as a great marketing tool for the upcoming iPhone 16 series.

Apple Intelligence

For iPads, only M1 and higher M-series chips are supported which limits the capabilities to 2021 iPad Pros or later and newer iPad Airs. At least in the Mac department, anything with an M1 chip or higher is supported which also includes the 2020 Macbook Air and Macbook Pro models. At least the M-series Macs brought a lot of improvements over their Intel-based competition and started the ARM revolution for computers, so those are worth upgrading.

Earlier Google reserved some of its Pro AI features for the Pixel 8 Pro, and Microsoft limited several Copilot+ PC features for ARM-based laptops. Apple is doing the same and regardless of the computing power bottleneck debate, you'll have to pay up for premium and newer devices if you want the latest AI features on your Apple smartphone, tablet, or computer.



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