Apple unveils long-awaited AI strategy, partnership with OpenAI at WWDC

CEO Tim Cook tells Worldwide Developers Conference AI features are the ‘next big step for Apple’.

Tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook has partnered with OpenAI to integrate AI into its devices [Jeff Chiu/AP]

Apple has revealed a slew of new artificial intelligence-powered features backed by a partnership with OpenAI, as the iPhone maker battles perceptions that it is falling behind in the race to capitalise on the technology.

Apple executives including CEO Tim Cook unveiled “Apple Intelligence” on Monday during a nearly two-hour-long presentation at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California.

“All of this goes beyond artificial intelligence, it’s personal intelligence, and it is the next big step for Apple,” CEO Tim Cook said.

The upgrades include an overhaul of the virtual assistant Siri, which will be capable of hundreds of more tasks with the help of ChatGPT.

Apple users will also be able to create their own emojis based on language prompts and generate summaries of emails in the mailbox via the tech giant’s in-house technology.

Apple signalled that the company would differentiate itself from rivals Microsoft and Google by putting privacy “at the core” of AI, which is known for hoovering vast amounts of data.

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said that “Apple Intelligence” puts AI models “right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac” and “protects your privacy at every step”.

The upgrades will be available for free in Apple’s iOS 18 operating system, due for release later this year, although the full suite of features will only work on more recent models of the iPhone, iPad and Macbook.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a social media post that he was “very happy” to be partnering with Apple to integrate ChatGPT into its products.

But billionaire Elon Musk, the founder of OpenAI rival xAI, blasted the partnership, claiming Apple could not account for user data once it was shared with OpenAI and was “selling you down the river”.

“That is an unacceptable security violation,” Musk, who leads the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, said in a post on X.

“And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage.”

Apple, which has long avoided the term “artificial intelligence”, has been under mounting pressure to show that it is keeping pace with rivals Microsoft and Google in the competition to roll out AI.

Investors, however, appeared to be unimpressed with Monday’s announcements, with shares of Apple down by nearly 2 percent.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies