Thematic Spotlight: AI Stands for Apple Intelligence

Apple’s widely anticipated annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicked off at the beginning of this week and as expected, the focus was on AI. But in this instance, AI refers to “Apple Intelligence”, a new AI (artificial intelligence) powered operating system for Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.1 Apple Intelligence will feature a broad set of AI tools, the most anticipated of which was free access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT through Siri.

Despite intense media coverage of OpenAI’s partnership with Apple prior to the WWDC, the actual relationship between the two firms was barely mentioned in Apple’s keynote presentation.2 Instead, much of the tech giant’s messaging was focused on its new suite of in-house AI productivity tools such as text summarisation, file filtering, image recognition and data retrieval. Apple’s muted approach to implementing AI is intentional. The company played heavily into a concept it calls “AI for the rest of us”, integrating only the most ‘friendly’, ‘safe’, and mature versions of AI into its software and features.3 The implementation of ChatGPT, which some thought would come in the form of a reimagined Siri, was very clearly segregated from Apple’s walled garden of internal tools. To access the chatbot, users would be asked to confirm the usage of ChatGPT through verbal confirmation with Siri.4 A clear sign that Apple plans to keep the technology separate from its ecosystem, and perhaps a hint the company is committed to developing its own version of an AI model in the future.

Market reactions to the WWDC keynote announcements were muted – Apple stock fell 1.9% on the day, leaving the stock up roughly 4% year to date.5 Apple has lagged other tech giants in stock appreciation this year as investors have continually raised concerns around the company’s slow uptake of AI adoption. The WWDC has shown a pivot in the right direction, but with Apple taking a decidedly conservative approach, investors may be left looking for more. 

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