Once again, in that lightning-fast world of artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile technology, Apple’s announcement of updates and upgrades, especially with the release of Apple Intelligence, has started a loud debate among tech pundits and industry gurus. As the tech giant begins to reveal its roadmap of iOS 18 and beyond, is Apple getting ahead of AI, or is Cupertino lagging not that far behind others?


The most sensational anticipated feature of iOS 18 is Apple Intelligence. It’s the company’s first major play for AI, ushering in a new world of smarter and more intuitive functions for Apple products. But will it be enough to close the gap with Android, much less exceed what the competition is doing? The answer for Android users might be an unqualified ‘yes’. But for Apple, it could be the beginning of a future in which the iPhone plays an even bigger role than it already does in our daily lives.

The Need for Top-Tier Hardware

You’ll need to be at the top end of Apple’s AI pyramid – a user of the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. That comes with a message about the importance of Apple’s strategy to integrate high-end software with high-end hardware, as well as the fact that these innovations will only be available to a certain small slice of Apple users, not all of them.

The Partnership with OpenAI: A Double-Edged Sword

Apple’s embrace of ChatGPT, which was developed by the American AI company OpenAI, to aid text entry and other types of generative activity on its devices is a surprising and telling development: even though at least some feature parity exists between Apple’s devices and the best Android equivalents, the ever-present presence of the OpenAI AI on-device is raising questions about the location of processing – on-device versus cloud-based – and privacy concerns over who exactly is able to access the data mined by the AI. It is also prompting a question about Apple’s claimed independence from externally sourced AI.

Language Limitations and Global Reach

Another oddity, however, is that while Apple Intelligence launches this month, it currently only recognises US English – far less linguistically diverse than competing services. Many people around the world will feel left out as a result.

Comparing Timelines and Technology Readiness

Apple lays out its AI road map with this stuff, beginning (or at least announcing the start) with features in iOS 18’s fall release. The company is also engaged in a race against time: just as it begins delivering these features, other vendors are coming out with their own AI gadgetry. And, as with Advanced App Controls slated for 2025, Apple will be shipped a product that won’t be as immediately impressive or polished as the company’s other products.

A Fresh Perspective on Privacy and Accessibility

Regardless, it is clear that Apple is serious about privacy and its long-term plan to provide many of the features of ChatGTP at no additional cost to users demonstrates its intent to continue to innovate in ways that respect users’ trust – and their equality. Whether it will deliver a truly seamless, integrated AI experience remains to be seen, but I remain hopeful.


Apple Intelligence, in its current form, therefore reflects both Apple’s ambitions and the limitations with which it is operating. Starting the AI arms race later gives Apple a disadvantage, particularly as Google and other Android forerunners have brought these technologies into mass-market deployment with some success. Whether Apple’s bet will actually work out is yet to be seen. The company must deftly navigate some treacherous terrain: the balance between innovation, privacy and the market’s expectations might not allow Apple to take its current lead for granted.

Exploring Apple's Path Forward

In the meantime, we’ll watch as the fate of Apple Intelligence unfolds, dependent on Apple’s ability to innovate quickly and allay the fears of its own strategy, as well as its ability to realise the broader promise of AI to transform the user experience. The Silicon Valley-based company’s future, in delivering its promises, is to become a company with a vision for AI that is in lockstep with the desires of its users around the world.

Reflections on Apple

I think that is something that Apple has always been good at, taking existing concepts and refining them into something that is brilliantly simple and seamlessly integrated – creating the best experience. With Apple Intelligence, they are extending this to artificially intelligent assistants and, if they are successful, they will once again prove that it is not about being the first, but the best – that it is creating meaningful, useful experiences for users that matters, not creating technology for technology’s sake. Maybe Apple Intelligence will be a milestone moment in Apple history, where the company finally perfects the art of truly intelligent assistants. But maybe it will just be a constituent part of Apple’s lesson of AI – something that we, as the bigger story unfolds, will simply add to the annals of technology development.

Jun 16, 2024
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