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Apple this week at its Worldwide Developers Conference unfurled a multi-prong artificial intelligence (AI) initiative spanning everything from mobile computing devices running the next iteration of Siri to services that will be invoked via cloud services running on server infrastructure developed by Apple.

Dubbed Apple Intelligence, the core of the Apple strategy is to rely on AI capabilities on the local device as much as possible before making requests to external AI services such as GPT-4o developed by Open AI.

However, Apple is limiting those requests only to AI models that have been verified to be used via an Apple Private Cloud computing service. Any access request to an AI model that a user or organization has not explicitly allowed will be refused.

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering for Apple, told conference attendees these external services will be running on Apple silicon to ensure safety and security.

AI features will be available only on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max and iPads or Macs with M1 or later processors, and initially only when their language is set to English, once iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia become available this fall, which is roughly the same time frame that the first series of AI-enabled Windows devices are expected to arrive.

AI capabilities showcased by Apple include an ability to generate multiple types of content, search photos, manage notifications, an ability to automatically write notes in a way that matches a person’s handwriting, summarizations and an ability for one application to ask another to perform a task.

In effect, Apple is building the equivalent of the Copilot tools that Microsoft has developed for Windows but is not putting itself at the forefront of AI innovation, says Daniel Newman, CEO of The Futurum Group. “It will drive an upgrade cycle,” he says.

Whether there is pent up demand for the next generation of Apple devices that will manifest this year or as part of a series of upgrades that take place over the course of 2025 and beyond remains to be seen. It’s also not clear to what degree these devices will be available in volume in 2024. The one thing that is certain is device manufacturers are now involved in AI arms race to outdo one another but whether these advances will induce individuals or organizations to switch platforms remains to be seen.

Just about everybody that has one of these devices will become more productive, especially as generative AI capabilities are embedded both into the device and the applications running on it. The challenge and the opportunity will be teaching users how to take advantage of capabilities that might require an ability to employ Siri to complete a task using a series of verbal prompts.

One way or another, however, AI is about to become pervasively available. The issue now will be determining how best to apply AI to improve not just the way everyone works but also plays.