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Updated Jun 11, 2024, 1:20pm EDT
North America
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Semafor Signals

Apple Intelligence and OpenAI partnership puts convenience at heart of AI strategy

Insights from Bloomberg, Business Insider, Platformer, and Morningstar

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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The News

Apple has unveiled “Apple Intelligence” — an AI strategy involving several new features for the iPhone and its operating systems, including major upgrades to Siri, its virtual assistant, and a partnership with OpenAI.

As demoed at Apple’s annual World-Wide Developers Conference on Monday, Siri will be able to answer more complex questions and automatically take action across iPhone apps, like sending a news article to a group chat, or storing an address sent in a text.

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Siri will have “screen awareness,” enabling it to see and read what’s on your screen and take actions based on what it sees.

To accomplish certain tasks. Siri will use OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT model, GPT-4o. It’s the first outcome of a long-anticipated partnership between OpenAI and Apple as the latter catches up to other tech companies with their own AI products.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Analysts are split on whether Apple delivered on its AI promises

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Sources:  
Business Insider, Bloomberg

Apple Intelligence was met by excitement by some industry watchers, but others didn’t find much to shout about. Apple “did exactly what they needed to do, which is show the world that they mean business when it comes to AI,” one analyst told Business Insider. Changes to Siri and the integration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT were the highlight for many, in part because the digital assistant hasn’t changed much since it was first introduced to iPhones 13 years ago. That said, the reaction at WWDC to the announcements was “lukewarm,” Bloomberg reported, and one analyst said the showcase “lacked a wow factor.” Apple shares fell in premarket trading after the presentation, but were back up and rising as of Tuesday afternoon.

Apple’s specialty is to ‘perfect, rather than pioneer’

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Sources:  
Platformer, Financial Times

Many of Apple’s new AI features already exist within other companies’ apps, Platformer’s Casey Newton wrote. Instead of showing something the tech world hadn’t seen before, the company’s pitch centered on convenience, he added. Tools like text-to-image generation and automatic voice transcription currently require users to bop around lots of different apps, while Apple Intelligence promises to integrate all of these actions on the iPhone, saving the user time. This is perfectly in line with Apple’s style, which is to “perfect, rather than pioneer,” the Financial Times noted.

Privacy is top of mind

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Sources:  
Morningstar, Apple

As AI becomes more integrated into technology and its use cases grow, so do privacy concerns. But “Apple’s closed ecosystem and privacy obsession could really set it apart,” one Morningstar analyst said. The company announced new privacy features during WWDC, which it claims will “empower users.” “You shouldn’t have to hand over all the details of your life to be warehoused and analyzed in someone’s AI cloud,” Apple SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi said during the Monday keynote. Notably, Apple said that if a user uses the ChatGPT integration on iPhone, OpenAI will not be able to access that data to train its models. But the partnership with OpenAI prompted Elon Musk, who has long-standing issues with OpenAI since he left the company in 2018, to say he’d ban iPhones at his companies because of potential security risks.

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