New updates: Apple brings ChatGPT to iPhones

Apple plans to enhance its Siri voice assistant and operating systems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT as it strives to keep up in the AI competition. The iPhone maker revealed the Siri update and several other new features at its annual developers’ conference on Monday.

This initiative is part of a new personalized AI system called “Apple Intelligence,” designed to help users navigate Apple devices more efficiently. Updates to the iPhone and Mac operating systems will enable ChatGPT access through a partnership with developer OpenAI. ChatGPT will also improve other tools, such as text and content generation, with a test version available in the fall.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stated that this move would elevate the company’s products as he inaugurated the Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

However, not everyone welcomed the announcement. Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, threatened to ban iPhones from his companies due to “data security” concerns. “Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI,” Musk said on X, accusing Apple of compromising user data.

Apple has been under pressure to introduce new AI features following the rapid adoption of AI technology by competitors. After being overtaken by Microsoft 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, mentioned that while Apple’s new personal AI system “should help placate nervous investors,” integrating ChatGPT might expose and create deeper issues for the company. “This move arguably shows Apple acknowledging its limitations since ChatGPT will intervene where Siri falls short,” he told the BBC.

Apple has largely stayed out of the recent surge of AI product releases by tech companies. In 2023, Cook assured investors that Apple would approach AI technology cautiously. On Monday, those plans were finally detailed.

“Apple Intelligence” is not a standalone product or app. It will be integrated into every app and Apple product, functioning as a writing assistant for message drafts or a smart diary showing the best routes to appointments. This is akin to Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot, but without extra activation fees.

Siri, the voice assistant Apple acquired in 2010, has been revamped with a new interface and more conversational style to help users navigate their devices and apps seamlessly. Apple emphasized the security of Apple Intelligence during Monday’s keynote. Some processing will occur on the device itself, while more demanding tasks will be sent to the cloud, with no data stored there, ensuring user privacy.

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said the system “puts powerful generative models right at the core of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac,” drawing on personal context to offer the most helpful and relevant intelligence while protecting privacy at every step.

Apple’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT was anticipated but is notable for a company that closely guards its products. Google and Microsoft have recently faced scrutiny for errors made by their AI products, with Google retracting a new feature in May after incorrect answers went viral.

Apple has long restricted its customers from downloading apps outside the App Store or using any web browser other than Safari, citing security concerns, only changing this stance due to EU legislation.

Is this a sign that even Apple can’t currently compete with ChatGPT? If so, it highlights the significant power of AI supergiant OpenAI. Apple mentioned future integration of other products but did not specify which ones.

Apple also announced that its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, will be available in the UK on July 12, having been available in the US since February. Other new features announced on Monday include:

– Sending texts via satellite
– Scheduling messages to send later
– Using head gestures (nodding for yes or shaking head for no) to control AirPods Pro
– A dedicated app for passwords accessible across devices
– The ability to hide certain apps or lock them behind Face ID or passcodes.

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