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Intelligently Apple

Different but delivering…

Apple Intelligence

Entering into WWDC I wasn’t certain of what to expect, I mean much was promised. What we got wasn’t what I was expecting, but I think Apple has delivered and in a very Apple’esque way.

They hit the ground running and didn’t stop to draw breath and as is becoming a habit now the entire WWDC keynote was shot on iPhone – as casual flex!

Being Apple

Yeah, we all know that WWDC is all about the new OS but oddly they were not the star of this year’s show – they saved the best for last, and that’s what I want to chat over today.

Just briefly though – a couple of OS highlights that I felt were worth a mention…

Messages via Satellite – nobody seems to be chatting about that but it’s huge. It was only last year that Emergency SOS via Satellite was launched. It was clever ok but of limited use and only a few characters could be typed for use in a genuine emergency.

Now though, if you are off wifi or cellular connectivity you can carry on as normal – even using tapbacks and emoji – and the messages are even encrypted. If I’ve understood this correctly, we should never be without service again!

The changes to Control Centre, Home Screen and Lock Screen look like they’ve been well thought through and will help freshen up how iPhone looks. I wasn’t shouting too loudly about this one leading up to yesterday’s event but I’ll admit, I like the look of it – in particular the colour-ways and palette options. It will just help freshen up the iPhone’s pretty little face.

I know that adding the calculator app to iPad has become a standing joke but at least the version they’ve finally brought to the iPad isn’t just a copy and paste from the iPhone – Maths Notes (which requires the Pencil Pro) makes it intelligent and intuitive and for my money, you can tell some thought has been given to it.

In iOS 18 you’ll be able to record your calls and create a text summary of the conversation. Similarly in Notes, you’ll now be able to record a voice note which can then be – you guessed it – summarised later for you.

The last of the OS highlights for me was iPhone Mirroring – little nuggets like that are when Apple shines. Similar to AirDrop and Universal Control it just makes life in Apple’s ecosystem that much simpler. I’ve often said that the phone, although central to everything is the device I use the least – looks like that has been taken one step further!

Getting personal

AI – we knew it was coming it’s just how Apple would deliver it that had us guessing.

Just like this time last year when Apple kept the name of Vision Pro under wraps, they did the same with Apple Intelligence. I do love it when Gurman and all the other rumour sites fall plum flat on their faces! I’ve always said Apple will let out what they want to be leaked. The name works great though – but what’s behind it?

Now, it may just be me, but I expected the event to highlight various apps being doused with AI but instead, although there was a little bit of that, they decided to lean heavily into it for the last 40 minutes of the keynote. Apple needed to not be seen copying Samsung and Google but rather to have made their delay into AI meaningful – and from what I can tell, they’ve done just that.

Knowing you

Just as if you were to hire a personal assistant in the office, the digital equivalent has to have one obvious thing going for it – it has to know you – inside and out. So, Apple has created a Personal Intelligence System.

Our phones represent our lives. It has access to our friends, calendars, birthdays, meetings, car service schedules – it knows everything about you and I. Scary to admit but the truth nonetheless and Apple has tapped into that fact.

From the get-go, they have years of knowledge about you for them to harvest from and tailor Apple Intelligence to become truly personal. I’d say the days of the Rabbit R1 and Humane AI Pin are immediately numbered – they can’t ever hope to have this intimate relationship with you. They can never have the contextual learning capabilities of your iPhone and Apple Intelligence.

The huge bonus of all this data is that it’s on device – so your data and privacy cannot be broached. Apple went to lengths to cover this. Private Cloud Compute will ensure that as many requests as possible are dealt with locally. But for those times when your request is too complicated to be dealt with at source, Private Cloud Compute will only send the data needed to deal with that specific request.

Apple’s servers will not collect data but rather be aware of it. A subtle but critical difference. Servers build up semantic indexing on our requests and those servers store your data which can then be farmed or sold. Built into Private Cloud Compute is that your iPhone, iPad, and Mac will refuse to talk to a server unless its software has been publicly logged for inspection – think of it as a privacy audit.

The big question that I had always had about Apple and AI seems to have been answered and their USP of privacy has been protected.

Apple did have to admit defeat though – they know that this level of privacy comes at a cost. There will be some responses that their Apple silicon-driven servers won’t be up to handling – enter Open AI and ChatGPT 4o.

The integration looks well executed – you’ll be asked if it’s ok to send your question to ChatGPT which means you are in control – it’s your choice and again the information will not be logged by OpenAI’s servers. It’s a one-and-done deal.

Siri’s coming of age

Siri was the original personal assistant and at some point, Apple was always going to cash in its chips and fully utilise what it had created.

Yesterday was that day.

It’s about to become more natural, relevant, personal and conversation-based – in short, it’s growing up. Siri now has a lovely, elegant, inviting new UI and if it performs as well as it was shown yesterday will become integral to the way we use our phones.

This version of Siri is built around its extensive product knowledge. Siri now holds a great deal of information about features and settings and can answer thousands of questions when you want to know how to do something on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Even if you don’t know exactly what a feature is called, you can just describe it and Siri will find the info you’re looking for.

It’s become intelligent and will try to do as much for you as possible freeing you up from some of the more tedious tasks. On-screen awareness will notice if for instance a new address pops up in Messages and will prompt you to update the contact details of that person automatically – from within the app.

If someone sends you a photo you can now ask Siri to touch up the photo and make it pop and be more colourful – all without leaving the app you are in. Siri has now become in concert with you – it is there to actually assist!

All of this is due to another innovation – App Intent.

App Intent is a framework that lets apps define a set of actions for Siri, Shortcuts, and other system experiences. It looks to me as if Siri is about to become the new Spotlight Search.

Searching for an email that you knew had a particular phrase or PDF attached to it is set to become a whole heap quicker and easier – this is the stuff we want assistants to do, right? With this Siri, we can type requests as well and with AirPods Pro it’ll even recognise a nod or shake of your head. I like the look of this of Siri 2024.

My day has just improved

System-wide writing tools are coming to Mac, iPad and iPhone – guess who that made a very happy little boy?

Although these tools were highlighted by Apple using Mail they said that they’ll work on third-party apps such as Ulysses and WordPress. If I were Grammarly I’d have woken up a little bit worried this morning. Why should I pay them anymore when I get all these goodies free as part of macOS Sequoia?

These writing tools are capable of not only correcting grammar & spelling but also correcting tone, proofreading, summarise long emails creating or suggesting smart replies for you. If these improvements carry over to iPadOS 18 it’s going to make working on my iPad so much better.

The future starts here

All the obvious tools we expected are there – being able to remove objects from the background in photos and a natural language search through your photos and videos. The demo even went as far as showing you being able to create a little movie clip with a music bed – all by language search.

Very unlike Apple is the fact that all these new features will run on all M series Macs, iPads and iPhones with the A17 chip. With the M4 iPad launched only a few weeks ago I would’ve bet they would have kept some goodies for that iPad if only to help drive sales of the new iPad Pro.

It’s as if years have been leading up to Apple’s event yesterday – and as is so often the case with them, suddenly everything makes perfect sense.

I’m so excited by the prospects that I have just signed up to beta test iOS 18 on my iPhone 14 Pro and think I may even beta test macOS Sequoia on my M3 iMac. That way I could test the betas as they come out and let you know what I make of them in real time.

Apple needed to get this right. It looks to me as if they’ve delivered.

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