Apple hasn’t yet made its big AI move, and technology reporters are divided as to whether it’s on the cards. Although Siri utilises artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning to deliver answers to users, and AI is firmly embedded in Apple Maps and their many other products, a big new Apple invention seems to be missing among the AI announcements of Microsoft, Google and OpenAI.
“Where’s the iBot?” asked Bloomberg. “Can Apple keep up with the recent artificial intelligence surge?” said Screen Rant. “Hey Siri, is Apple letting another AI opportunity pass by?” joked MacWorld. Absolutely not, responds every Apple fan, quietly confident that the company will do what it does best when the time is right.
Something is definitely happening. The machine learning and AI careers page on the Apple website says, “the work is innovative,” “the experience is magic,” and talks about how its team members are, “building amazing experiences into every Apple product.” In May the company posted 28 new AI positions and banned ChatGPT for employees, for fear of sensitive information being leaked to the platform. They joined Samsung, Goldman Sachs and Amazon in preventing ChaptGPT access at work, in the same week ChatGPT became available on iOS.
Privacy aside, surely the most valuable tech company in the world will make their move in the relatively near future. Surely they have something up their sleek and perfectly polished sleeve. Here are 6 predictions on exactly how Apple might join the AI business race, and how each might affect your business.
1. Apple will enter in the music and entertainment space
The iPod, iMusic and iTunes give hints. Apple is big on music, so AI-generated music could be its next big thing. In February 2022 they acquired AI music, a startup that “uses artificial intelligence to generate personalized soundtracks and adaptive music,” reports said. This kind of technology, that creates bespoke audio experiences for all kinds of creators and music enthusiasts, could incorporate data Apple’s other products such as Health, Apple Watch and iCal.
Perhaps Apple will spot you have an important meeting ahead and suggest a playlist that gets you in the mood to win. MacRumours mused that the Apple Photo app could use the technology to generate on-demand music for accompanying music slideshows. Apple could also produce chart-topping music, soundscapes and moving images. The possibilities are huge.
While everyone else is focused on making blog posts, chatbots and images, could Apple take the music and entertainment crown? If you’re in the creative space, you might expect better access to AI creation tools and better, faster ways of producing your art using AI. For entrepreneurs this might mean straightforward musical integration with their content, schedule and events, not to mention benefits for musician entrepreneurs.
2. Apple will simply integrate AI further into its existing products
It’s very possible that Apple hasn’t launched a new, flagship product because it’s busy improving the AI capabilities of its existing products, just like it’s been doing for years. Apple keyboards include predictive text, Face ID is used to unlock iPhones, you can separate objects from their backgrounds in photos, and there are AI features in their camera, in crash detection on Apple Watch and iPhone and within the Contacts app. Plus, AI-narrated audiobooks quietly launched on the iBooks store in January of 2023.
And don’t forget Siri. With an initial release date of October 2011 but, “hampered by clunky design and miscalculations,” and “clunky code,” Siri is one of the original virtual assistants, one that could be long overdue an upgrade. In February 2023, Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors that they, “see enormous potential in this space to affect virtually everything we do,” and explained, “it will affect every product and every service that we have.” Apple could be taking a far more holistic view of AI than simply producing a new thing.
Integrating further AI technology into Apple’s product range would likely make devices more effective and efficient, saving time for business owners. A better AI-powered virtual assistant would streamline administrative tasks, scheduling, and the management of workflows. AI algorithms could analyze data, providing valuable insights for informed decision-making and strategy optimization. Enhanced AI security measures would safeguard sensitive business information and detect cyber threats more effectively. All of this is possible with the ingredients Apple already has.
3. Apple will release its own large language model (LLM)
One prediction is that Apple will in fact join the LLM bandwagon and produce its own version, with rumours that its teams, including those working on Siri, are testing language-generating concepts regularly. This is on top of a reported new framework for “Siri natural language generation” in the tvOS 16.4, and discussed after the brand’s internal AI summit, held at Steve Jobs Theater in February, and streamed live for any team member not present.
With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) planned for June 5 to 9, this may be when they release something big, although predictions suggest it’s where iOS 17, macOS 14, and Apple’s AR/VR headset will be unveiled. If Apple was about to launch a large language model, it would be one of the best kept secrets in tech history.
Should Apple go down this route, the implications would be interesting for creator entrepreneurs. Apple is generally on the side of creators, so it might not be its style to train an LLM on the collective knowledge of the internet. Maybe they’d figure out a way that creators could have better control over their content. Maybe they’d help creators retain the proceeds of their work better than anything else out there.
4. Apple will launch an AI health coaching service
Apple’s Health app collects lots of data from users, tracking movements including steps walked and flights of stairs climbed, not to mention calories, menstrual cycle, weight, heart rate, sleep and stress levels with the addition of an Apple watch. Some rumours say that Apple is about to introduce an artificially intelligent health coaching service, as well as new technology for tracking emotions.
It would make sense. The company is well down the road of helping people stay fit and healthy, but hyper-personalized guidance on how to do so would be the cherry on top. Think Siri combined with David Goggins, if tough love is your thing. Or a cheerleader version of the Apple assistant, if you just need some hype. The smartwatch collects the data on how you’re doing, compares it to your goals, and its AI coaches fill the gap with words of encouragement, guidance, and personalised plans.
Having easier access to highly personalised health and fitness guidance will clearly benefit the busy entrepreneur managing their energy levels. If artificial intelligence can help spot early signs of mental or physical ill health, so you can make the changes required, it can only be good for business.
5. Apple won’t join the race with a big move
If Apple doesn’t enter the AI race, it may come as a relief to many business owners. It will mean a little less adapting is required; there’s one less thing to learn and understand. And there’s a good argument to say that Apple need not do anything more. Working in stealth mode, integrating AI to make its existing products better and quietly releasing new updates that benefit their users is a solid strategy because of one main reason: they don’t need to compete.
Whoever wins the AI race will probably just deliver the services via an App Store app. The iPhone has such a significant share of the smartphone field that there’s no way of any tech giant delivering impact without Apple taking their cut.
This means Apple can stay out of the competition by being, effectively, the host. The organiser. The foundation without which it wouldn’t work. Apple could cause a lot of trouble for other companies if they really wanted to, but there might be nothing in it for them to do so. If you can’t beat them, join them, as the saying goes. Bloomberg suggested the speed of the other companies may have taken Apple by surprise, but in truth they have earned the right to sit back and ponder. Meanwhile ChatGPT launches on iOS and people use their iPhones to talk about AI news.
6. Apple will bide their time to eclipse everyone
Apple is not traditionally the first mover in a field, and nor does it want to be. Especially if not consumer-proven, the brand’s strategy has been to let others make mistakes and enter with something far superior. The iPhone was not the first smartphone, but it wiped the floor with BlackBerry by simply being better. The iPod wasn’t the first way anyone could listen to music while walking, but it dominated the market and made other players obsolete pretty fast.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are under close watch right now, with their mistakes shared as gifs and tweets and each becoming known for their respective quirks. Apple not rushing to create their own GPT fits perfectly with the Apple brand, especially as the field is so relatively new. Apple’s core philosophy states it believes, “we’re on the face of the earth to make great products.” It doesn’t say anything about fast ones.
This strategy will suit those entrepreneurs who have been cautiously hanging back from AI or intentionally waiting it out. Waiting to assess all options for how they integrate AI into their business. Of course, those who have been building processes around ChatGPT may need to adapt if Apple enters with a superior offering. The underlying premise, however, will still hold true: the purpose of incorporating AI into your business is to create a better experience for customers. How that’s accomplished doesn’t matter long term.
Notoriously secretive, especially when it comes to software, Apple is a wise brand that refuses to be perturbed by other players in their field. Rest assured that Apple knows what it’s doing, even when seemingly behind their competitors with an AI strategy. The work of the brand’s team to date has bought them time and given them options, and when they are ready, you will know.