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Apple recently hosted its highly anticipated ‘Apple Event.’ But, guess what? It never uttered the term ‘AI’ even once. Without explicitly mentioning ‘artificial intelligence,’ Apple showcased a new line of products that included improved semiconductor designs powering the latest “machine learning and neural engines” capabilities.
“Apple is taking a product-first approach to AI instead of an AI-first approach to products,” said AI advisor Vin Vashistha. He said that the presenters talked about “machine learning” and immediately explained how this technology benefits customers by enhancing their experiences or achieving particular results.
But, that’s not entirely true. Apple has spent nearly $22.6 billion on R&D, driven by investments in AI technologies, including generative AI, as reported by Reuters. Apple recently also said that it is expanding its budget for creating conversational AI to millions of dollars a day to develop new features for Siri where customers can use just voice commands to automate simple tasks.
The outcome of these efforts was actually felt in the recent Apple Event, even though it did not mention the word “AI” once – unlike Google and Microsoft – who by now might be tired, and their leaders just can’t stop talking about i, just to sell their products and services – “AI-powered that…” “Copilot that…” etc.
Be like Apple
This is not the first time Apple shied away from using the word “AI”. Five months back, at Apple earnings call, Cook said AI twice, and that was in response to a question, and that’s that.
In contrast, Google chief Sundar Pichai, earlier this year at the Google I/O event mentioned the word “AI” over 143 times during the two-hour presentation. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella used the word “AI” 47 times at its recent earnings call.
Be like Apple, instead. Even though AI is present in almost all of its offerings, it is all about getting down to specifics, mentioning things like transformer models, machine learning, and chips.
Apple is a marketing genius. Instead of selling its product, banking on AI, it very wisely spent all the time in the world to script a perfect script to save “Mother Nature” – played by Octavia Spencer, alongside its chief Tim Cook and team, who super tried to keep a straight face throughout.
Clearly, Apple knows its customers, and what matters to them. For instance, it built Series 9 Watch with a new chip that includes improved data crunching capabilities, notably adding a four-core “neural engine” that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as quickly. This is also the first product that is carbon neutral.
Also, thanks to the powerful new neural engine Siri requests are now processed on device making them faster and more secure – a more edge or federated learning use cases. Again, Apple is all about messaging, and it looks to provide a faster and more secure experience for its users.
Not just that, the machine learning chip components also enabled Apple to launch a new way to interact with the device: where people can now “double tap” their finger tips to answer or end phone calls, pause music, or launch other information like the weather. This uses advanced neural nets and machine learning algorithms that detect the unique signature of tiny wrist movements and changes in blood flow when the index finger and thumb perform a double tap, thereby providing hassle-free experience for users.
In Apple iPhone 15, Apple also introduced Next Gen Portraits which leverages machine learning to automate portrait mode in the camera so that users don’t have to remember to switch to portrait mode. Using machine learning it can automatically detect whether an object is in the frame, thereby improving the photo clicking experience.
Additionally, iPhone 15 has the power of computational photography to enhance picture quality. At the event it was demonstrated with various applications, ranging from enhancing light and detail balance to identifying and enabling portrait mode for both people and pets. “The 16-core Neural Engine handles everything from computational photography to live voicemail transcriptions on devices in order to protect your privacy” said Kaiann Drance, VP of iPhone Marketing at Apple.
All in all, Apple’s decision to refrain from explicitly mentioning “AI” serves to eliminate the distraction surrounding the technology, allowing them to concentrate on effectively conveying their message to customers and stakeholders. This approach is quite clever and differs significantly from anything we’ve previously witnessed.