Friday 23 June 2023

Apple starts to embrace artificial intelligence, installs AI-powered features in iPhones

 Apple is now transforming into an artificial intelligence (AI) company.

For many years, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has been quiet about AI. In fact, InfoWorld reported that during the Worldwide Developers Conference 2023, Apple CEO Tim Cook managed to talk for over two hours in a global keynote without mentioning AI.

But that is starting to change with AI-powered features and other updates being installed in iPhones. According to an article published in the Atlantic, the AI updates are to be rolled out using an incremental approach.

Apple's much-maligned autocorrect feature is getting upgraded by AI using sophisticated language models. According to reports, this update won't just check against a dictionary but will also be able to consider the context of the word in a sentence. For example, it won't suggest "consolation" when you mean "consolidation," because the technology would know that the words don't mean the same thing.

Another small tweak that would be rolled out will be on the Photos app as announced earlier in June. For example, it will be able to automatically recognize the phone owner's dog the same way it recognizes people who frequently appear in the pictures.

Also, AirPods will be able to adjust to background noise based on the users' listening via "Adaptive Audio." For example, the Apple earpods might automatically lower the volume of your music when you start talking to the barista at a coffee shop and then raise it when you stop. Apple said it will use machine learning to understand your volume preferences in general and optimize your listening experience.

Apple claims to have a practical and lowkey approach to AI

Despite the rise of the ultra-advanced ChatGPT, Apple wants to keep a lowkey approach to AI. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing to create humanlike conversational dialogue. The language model can respond to questions and compose various written content, including articles, social media posts, essays and emails.  

John Gruber, a longtime Apple follower who runs the technology blog "Daring Fireball," told the Atlantic's Caroline Mimbs Nyce that he doesn't expect any of the machine-learning features Apple announced this year to alter the iPhone user experience significantly. "They'll just make it nominally better. We expect autocorrect just to work," he told Nyce via email. "We notice when it doesn't."

The new autocorrect, which will be available in an iOS upgrade later this year, is like a less powerful version of ChatGPT in your pocket.

"When you ask ChatGPT a question, you are accessing the same giant large language model stored on the cloud that everyone else is. But the much smaller and more personalized language model that will now power autocorrect will be living on your iPhone. Apple has not shared more details on how the feature will work, and the exact technical approach that Apple is using here is not clear," explained Tatsunori Hashimoto, a computer scientist at Stanford University.

Apple also has a different approach to AI than other tech companies, which is evident in their respective business models.

Google and Meta control about half of the digital-ad market, and AI-powered chatbots could become just another way to get people to buy things. Microsoft is less in the ad business, but it hopes that adding chatbot functionality to search could help chip away at Google. Amazon's enormous cloud-hosting business stands to gain from the adoption of large language models.

Apple, meanwhile, is a luxury brand that is more deeply involved in making computers and phones enjoyable. "So, it isn't surprising that Apple is approaching AI cautiously, with a product-oriented focus," Gruber said.


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