Apple delivered on market expectations it would ramp up its AI capabilities, unveiling at WWDC 2024 a personal intelligence system integrated in the operating systems of a range of devices as well as a Siri upgrade with major AI-centric features including support for OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Apple Intelligence is the personal intelligence system for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, combining the power of generative models with personal context, the company noted in a statement. It is integrating ChatGPT access into iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia, its new Mac OS. It will be available for free with its new operating systems in September.

CEO Tim Cook stated: “We’re thrilled to introduce a new chapter in Apple innovation. Apple Intelligence will transform what users can do with our products,” while emphasising the company had pushed to develop a personalised AI offering for its users.

A partnership with OpenAI, which is now confirmed after being rumoured for months, will also see chatbot ChatGPT integrated with Siri and other first party apps.

Ben Wood, CMO at CCS Insight, wrote in a research note the company needed to deliver an AI story, and Apple Intelligence “should help placate nervous investors and reassure them Apple is keeping pace with its rivals”. He added the partnership with ChatGPT is a major development which beefs up its AI offerings.

He explained Apple adopted a hybrid solution to ensure privacy and security when delivering AI-powered services, with some processing done in the cloud, rather than all on the device. The company created its own cloud infrastructure to maintain complete control of users’ data.

TF International Securities analyst Kuo Ming-Chi argued in a blog Apple will no longer be seen as a laggard in the AI industry, with the technology becoming ubiquitous in its main applications.

Kuo added Apple’s collaboration with OpenAI is likely to remain at the level of “AI wrappers”, with Apple designs for the user interface of the apps, while the actual inference relies on the AI models and computing power of partners.

Musk hits out
While analyst reaction was mainly positive to Apple’s AI push, there has also been some high-profile criticism. Elon Musk wrote on X it was “patently absurd” Apple isn’t smart enough to make their own AI”, in reference to its partnership with OpenAI, raising concerns about how the duo will protect user information. He went on to state he would ban the use of Apple devices from being used at his companies if it “integrates OpenAI at the OS level”.

Paolo Pescatore, CEO, chairman, founder and president of analyst house PP Foresight, said there are many questions about the OpenAI tie-up around privacy and trust, with “Apple’s trust and credibility critical to adoption”.

Vision Pro wider release
Away from AI, Apple announced it is launching the Apple Vision Pro in eight new markets, including the UK, France and Germany on 12 July. Greater China, Japan and Singapore will see deliveries of the mixed reality headset on 28 June. The updated VisionOS 2 will be available in September.

Apple also previewed the upcoming iOS 18, calling it a “major release” featuring more customisation options and the biggest redesign ever of the Photos app. The release will support RCS messaging, and users can communicate via satellite in the Messages app when a cellular or Wi-Fi connection isn’t available.