The AI Race: Will Apple Update its Smartphones with Gen AI?

Apple is Undertaking Research Into Generative AI Capabilities for its Devices, Which Could Suggest an Evolution of the Company’s AI Strategy in 2024

Apple is rumoured to be speeding up its generative AI (Gen AI) capabilities.

According to an article by The Financial Times, the tech giant is quietly working towards a series of acquisitions, staff hires and hardware updates that are designed to bring AI to its next generation of iPhones. It is rumoured that this could involve a new generation of Siri, with new features to be released later in the year.

In light of other technology companies racing to implement Gen AI capabilities into smartphones, AI Magazine considers if Apple will make similar moves in 2024.

The race to implement Gen AI

AI features could become exclusive to new iPhones, as a result of Apple’s own custom chips - the newest of which were unveiled at the end of 2023 and said to have greater Gen AI capabilities.

With this in mind, The Financial Times suggests that the company’s goal appears to be operating Gen AI through its mobile devices, allowing for chatbots and apps to run on the software of the phone, rather than being powered by cloud services in data centres.

Apple has been designing its own custom chips for iPhones since 2010, which ensured that the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon followed suit. 

However, the company is starting to fall behind its competitors with regards to its AI and Gen AI developments. The tech giant was recently overtaken by Microsoft, who recently claimed the title of the world’s most valuable company. Our sister publication Technology Magazine reported in January 2024 that this was as a result of slowing iPhone demand and Microsoft’s recent AI announcements closing the gap between the two companies. 

The race for companies to implement Gen AI into everyday applications and devices like smartphones is continuing to heat up.

Samsung and Google Cloud recently announced a new multi-year partnership to bring Google Cloud’s Gen AI technology to Samsung smartphone users around the globe. Likewise, Humane - founded by ex-Apple employees - introduced its AI Pin to deliver a more personalised AI experience.

Maintaining a competitive edge

Apple’s next product launch is its first venture into the headset market, the Apple Vision Pro.

The company’s virtual reality (VR) headset is due to be launched in February 2024, with Apple hoping to demonstrate that blending virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) is in fact the future of computing.

It can only be speculated as to what else Apple could be working on behind the scenes. However, according to a paper published by the company at the end of 2023, it is working to optimise AI running capabilities on its devices.

Researchers state in the paper that they have developed a method that “paves the way for effective inference of large language models (LLMs) on devices with limited memory” - allowing for powerful AI to run on handheld devices (smartphones) with less computing power.

“Our work underscores the importance of considering hardware characteristics in the development of inference-optimised algorithms, suggesting a promising direction for further explorations in this domain,” Apple wrote.

“We believe as LLMs continue to grow in size and complexity, approaches like this work will be essential for harnessing their full potential in a wide range of devices and applications.”

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