David Lewis Talking Tech & Audio
Search
Close this search box.

Apple silicon and AI to the rescue

Apple silicon Macs changed everything – but not all for the good

Apple silicon in iPhone 15 Pro Max

When the first Apple silicon Macs landed it’s safe to say they changed everything in a heartbeat.

They had endless amounts of power, were super efficient and were either fan-free or ran quiet as the proverbial church mouse. But, good as it was there was a problem and it was one I don’t know if even Apple could have foreseen.

Apple silicon was too good.

The problem for Apple has proven to be how to convince us to change. If you were an early adopter and bought an M1 Mac it will still be fast and efficient – so why change? I should know – I’m writing this on an M1 Max MacBook Pro.

I know I’m not the average Apple consumer – I get that. I tend to buy the latest offerings to write about and review. But for most, Macs are purchases that are taken pretty seriously and if chosen properly will have the potential to last for the best part of a decade.

Great for us – not so good for Apple’s bottom line. But there may just be a light at the end of the tunnel for them – and oddly the saviour might be…Apple silicon!

Apple silicon saving the day

Sales aren’t great for Apple in general right now.

The Vision Pro sales are slower than anticipated and both Mac and iPhone sales are in a bit of a slump and Apple has been keen to find a solution. Ironically that answer could come in the shape of another device that has been languishing recently – the iPad.

From what we are hearing Apple is now going to launch the new OLED-clad iPad Pros with M4 Apple silicon and pitch the new device as their first AI-designed product.

In delivering these in May at the Let Loose event they’ll tempt us with the hardware and then a month later at WWDC dazzle us with what M4 can do. They need an M4 chip out there ahead of the June conference to show off to its best effect what their AI is capable of.

Genius!

In theory all Apple silicon should be capable of running artificial intelligence algorithms – after all, Apple has used Neural Engines in its chips for years. But if the wave of new AI features that we are expecting at WWDC is true then it could be that older Apple silicon may find itself creaking a little.

LLMs which are the engine room of most AI need memory. OpenAI and Google Gemini are both RAM-hungry. Apple is reported to be building its own LLM which I’d assume would run natively on Apple devices rather than being outsourced to the cloud – it would also improve privacy & efficiency too.

Google is clearly aware of the memory issues as even they don’t run Gemini Nano on anything except the largest Pixel Pro phones because of memory limitations – and Nano is likely to be very similar to what Apple is cooking up for iPhone.

OK – there is an argument that would suggest that iOS is more effective than Android at using its memory – but the most RAM available on an iPhone is currently only 8 GB on the 15 Pro and Pro Max. But will 8 GB of memory really be enough to run the kind of on-device LLM that Apple would ideally like?

An eye to the future

It’s implausible to think that Apple would have the bare-faced cheek to get on stage at WWDC and show off AI features that can’t run on any iPhone – but it’s pretty safe to assume that the features they do showcase will only run on the 15 Pro range and of course the new iPad Pros.

And this is where Apple silicon comes to the rescue.

Assuming that customers will be tripping over themselves to get their hands on Apple’s take on AI they will almost have forced the hands of customers to swap out devices.

M4 Apple silicon that’s coming to the iPad next week and to Macs later this year is to have a vastly beefed-up Neural Engine enabling it to run AI and LLMs. The A18 chip that’ll be in iPhone 16 will similarly be AI-ready.

The message is – you want to play then buy the new toys. And in the blink of an eye, Apple has solved the problem of making folks wanting to change when otherwise change would not have been on the cards.

Focus on iPhone

Older Macs with M1 Apple silicon will likely fare better – OK they may be slower than their M2/M3/M4 counterparts but iPhone with its more limited memory are going to struggle – and it’s here that Apple will be hoping to clean up.

It’ll be interesting for me to find out first-hand how AI runs on various Apple silicon. I have an M1 Max MacBook Pro, a base-level M3 iMac and an M3 MacBook Air with 16 GB of memory. By the time the features get announced at WWDC I should also have a 13-inch iPad Pro – with M4 Apple silicon.

There is a big if in all this though. Judging by comments I get here and on YouTube there is a great deal of ambivalence from many Apple users about AI coming to iPhone and Mac.

To create that swell in sales Apple is aware that they’ll have to make AI that people want. In a short I made recently on YouTube I mentioned that the latest news we have is that they’ll go the route of making AI features that make day-to-day life better rather than chasing all the bells & whistles. Apple knows better than anyone what their core demographic is – and it is them that’ll need pleasing.

iPhone users will be wary of a Google LLM running on their device anyway and what they won’t want is a Pixel dressed as an iPhone.

The crystal ball

I’m still not convinced Apple could have planned this in their doubtless meticulous business plan for Apple silicon.

But as it turns out they couldn’t have scripted it better. Apple silicon was too good – they created a beast. The funny thing is that it’s another beast that might end up saving the day for them.

AI – the gift that keeps on giving!

If you’ve noticed a load of duplicates on your iPhone or that it seems to be running slower than you’d like now is the time to show it some love. With spring in sight, why not give your iPhone a spring clean with MacPaws NEW CleanMyPhone? From the makers of the awesome CleanMyMac – it’s brilliant, simple to use and will declutter your phone in a matter of moments. Try it for yourself using my link which in turn helps support me as a writer.

Are you subscribed to Medium yet?

I am only one of a whole host of writers here on Medium, the premium blogging site. It is such good value, and you can join below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *