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Apple is to boost its Siri voice assistant and operating systems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT as it seeks to catch up in the AI race.

The iPhone maker announced the Siri makeover along with a number of other new features at its annual developers show on Monday.

It is part of a new personalised AI system – called “Apple Intelligence” – that aims to offer users a way to navigate Apple devices more easily.

Updates to its iPhone and Mac operating systems will allow access to ChatGPT through a partnership with developer OpenAI.

ChatGPT can also be used to boost other tools, including text and content generation. The test version will become available in the autumn.

Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, said the move would bring his company’s products “to new heights” as he opened the Worldwide Developers Conference at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

There was a cool reaction from the markets though – Apple’s share price fell by 1.91% on Monday, the day of the announcement.

The partnership was also not welcomed by Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, who has threatened to ban iPhones from his companies due to “data security”.

“Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI,” Mr Musk said on X. “They’re selling you down the river.”

Apple has not responded to his allegations.

Smartphone maker Samsung also mocked its rival’s announcement.

“Adding ‘Apple’ doesn’t make it new or groundbreaking. Welcome to AI”, it posted on X.

It is not the first time the South Korean company has sought to undermine its competitor.

However the bigger concern for Apple will be whether its new AI tools will help it catch up with rival firms who have have been quicker to embrace the technology.

Apple usurped by Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in January, and was overtaken again by chip-maker Nvidia in early June.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

Ben Wood, chief analyst at research firm CCS Insight, said that while Apple’s new personal AI system “should help placate nervous investors”, its ChatGPT integration might reveal and create deeper problems for the firm.

“Apple Intelligence” is not a product nor an app in its own right.

It will become part of every app and Apple product customers use – whether it’s a writing assistant refining your message drafts or your diary being able to show you the best route to get to your next appointment.

In that sense, it is similar to Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot – but you won’t have to pay extra to activate it.

Siri, the voice assistant Apple acquired in 2010, has been refreshed with a new interface and chattier approach to help users navigate their devices and apps more seamlessly.

“Arguably this sees Apple admitting its limitations given ChatGPT will kick in at a point where Siri is no longer able to help a user,” Mr Wood told the BBC.

Apple was keen to stress the security of Apple Intelligence during Monday’s keynote.

Some processing will be carried out on the device itself, while larger actions requiring more power will be sent to the cloud – but no data will be stored there, it said.

This is vital to customers who pay premium prices for Apple’s privacy promises.

The system “puts powerful generative models right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi.

“It draws on your personal context to give you intelligence that’s most helpful and relevant for you, and it protects your privacy at every step.”

What does OpenAI and Apple deal mean?

Apple’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT tech had been widely anticipated but it is an unusual move for a company that so closely guards its own products.

Google and Microsoft have recently faced scrutiny over errors made by their AI products in recent months, with the search giant rolling back a new feature in May after its erroneous answers went viral.

For years Apple also refused to allow its customers to download any apps outside of the App Store on the grounds that they might not be secure, and would not allow any web browser other than its own Safari for the same reason.

It only changed when forced to by EU legislation.

Is it recognition that even Apple can’t compete with ChatGPT right now?

If so, it tells us a lot about the current power of the AI supergiant OpenAI.

The firm did say it would integrate other products in future, but did not name any.

Apple announced that its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, will go on sale in the UK on 12 July. It has been available in the US since February.

Other new features announced on Monday include:

  • sending texts via satellite
  • scheduling messages to send at a later point
  • using head gestures (nodding for yes or shaking head for no) to control AirPods Pro
  • a dedicated app for passwords that is accessible across devices
  • the ability to hide certain apps or lock them away behind Face ID or passcodes.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/c4nn5mejl89o

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