Understanding Apple Intelligence and Its Impact on Swift Developers

Florencia Papa
Florencia Papa
June 20, 2024
Swift
Artificial intelligence
Understanding Apple Intelligence and Its Impact on Swift Developers

Last week, Apple announced "Apple Intelligence" at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), introducing a new personal intelligence system that combines generative models with personal context to deliver highly relevant and useful insights. The beta version will be released in fall 2024 in U.S. English, with more features and languages to follow over the next year, not following a strict timeline. 

Privacy is a cornerstone of Apple and Artificial Intelligence, with most models running entirely on-device and more complex requests handled through "Private Cloud Compute," which ensures data privacy by processing information on Apple silicon-powered servers. Apple is also integrating ChatGPT into its platforms, allowing users to access its expertise within iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. This integration enhances systemwide writing tools and offers additional capabilities without compromising user privacy.

Apple Intelligence will be available for iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac models with M1 or later. John Giannandrea, Apple's Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI Strategy, recently explained why the company's new AI system is restricted to these devices.

Giannandrea mentioned that while older devices could theoretically run these models, the performance would be too slow to be practical. Addressing concerns that this limitation might be a tactic to boost sales of new devices, Apple's Marketing Chief, Greg Joswiak, clarified that this is not the case. He alleged that if the goal were simply to sell new devices, the AI capabilities would have been limited to only the most recent iPads and Macs as well.

In essence, the advanced computational requirements of the new Apple AI system demand the use of the latest and most powerful devices to ensure a smooth and efficient user experience. But why is this necessary? What makes Apple Intelligence so significant?

Apple Intelligence’s key features

Apple’s AI brings a suite of powerful new features to users. Among these are advanced writing tools that allow for rewriting, proofreading, and summarizing text across various apps, including Mail, Notes, Pages, and third-party applications. The "Rewrite" function offers different versions of text to suit various tones and audiences, while "Proofread" checks grammar, word choice, and sentence structure, providing explanations for suggested edits. "Summarize" can condense text into a digestible paragraph, bullet points, or lists, making information easier to manage.

Apple Intelligence text generative tools in different Apple devices

In the realm of email, Apple Intelligence introduces features like "Priority Messages," which highlights urgent emails at the top of the inbox, and email summaries that allow users to view key points without opening messages. "Smart Reply" offers quick response suggestions and ensures that all questions in an email are answered efficiently.

Notification management is also enhanced, with "Priority Notifications" bringing the most important alerts to the forefront, and a new focus mode called "Reduce Interruptions" that limits notifications to those needing immediate attention.

Apple Intelligence extends its capabilities to audio management within the Notes and Phone apps, enabling users to record, transcribe, and summarize audio. This functionality can be particularly useful during phone calls, where summaries of conversations can be generated for easy reference.

A standout feature is the "Image Playground," which allows users to create fun and expressive images in Animation, Illustration, or Sketch styles. This tool is integrated into various apps, including Messages, Notes, Keynote, Freeform, and Pages, as well as available through a dedicated app for experimenting with different concepts and styles.

Additionally, Apple Intelligence introduces "Genmoji," allowing users to create personalized emojis by typing descriptions or using photos. These Genmoji can be used in messages or as stickers and reactions, adding a new level of personalization to digital communication.

Examples of Apple's Genmoji generations.

The Photos app receives significant upgrades as well, making it easier to search for specific photos and moments within videos using natural language. A new "Clean Up" tool helps remove distracting objects from photos, and the "Memories" feature uses language and image understanding to create storylines and movies from users' photos and videos.

Siri AI also enters a new era with Apple Intelligence, offering richer language understanding, more natural and contextually relevant interactions, and the ability to switch between text and voice. Siri can now take hundreds of new actions across Apple and third-party apps, making it easier to perform tasks related to on-screen information.

Impact on Swift Developers

Apple's announcement introduces significant advancements for Swift developers, focusing on the integration of generative AI and enhanced Siri capabilities. These updates will influence and transform how developers create and enhance their applications.

Integration of Apple Intelligence:

  • Apple Intelligence, Apple’s new generative AI technology, is now available for developers to integrate into their applications. This isn't just a consumer-facing feature but a powerful tool for developers to enhance their apps with cutting-edge AI capabilities.
  • During the keynote at WWDC 2024, Apple highlighted that developers could now embed AI-powered experiences into their apps, making use of the same technology that powers Apple’s own features.

Updated SDKs and New APIs:

  • Apple’s software development kits (SDKs) have been updated to include a variety of new APIs and frameworks. These updates simplify the integration of advanced features such as the Image Playground, or GenAI image creation, into apps.
  • With just a few lines of code, developers can enable functionalities like AI-driven image creation. For instance, Apple demonstrated how the Craft app could use this technology to enhance user documents by allowing them to add AI-generated images, making the documents more visual and engaging.

AI-Powered Writing Tools:

Any app that uses the standard editable text view will now automatically have access to AI-powered writing tools. These tools enable features such as rewriting, proofreading, and summarizing text within the app.

An example provided was the Bear Notes app, which can now offer users the ability to refine their notes with AI assistance, enhancing the user experience by improving the quality and readability of their content.

Enhanced Siri Capabilities:

Apple is expanding the ways developers can utilize Siri within their apps. For developers who have integrated Siri using SiriKit, there are immediate enhancements available without additional development effort.

These enhancements cover various domains, including Lists, Notes, Media, Messaging, Payments, Restaurant reservations, VoIP calling, and Workouts. Developers will see improved functionality in these areas, making their apps more versatile and user-friendly.

New Siri Functionalities:

Two new Siri capabilities were highlighted in the developer keynote, both of which developers can leverage without additional work:

Menu Invocation: Siri can now invoke any item from an app’s menus. This means users can use voice commands to perform specific actions, such as saying “show my presenter notes” when navigating a slide deck, or even using more conversational commands like “I need to see my speaker notes.”

Text Access and Action: Siri can access and act on any text displayed on the screen using Apple’s standard text systems. For example, if a user has a reminder or note that says “wish grandpa a happy birthday,” they can simply say “FaceTime him” to initiate a call, seamlessly turning written reminders into actionable tasks.

These advancements underscore Apple's commitment to empowering developers with the latest AI and voice technologies, providing tools that enhance the functionality and user experience of their apps. Swift developers can now harness these innovations to create more dynamic, intuitive, and responsive applications.

Conclusion

Apple Intelligence is revolutionizing the way apps are developed and experienced within the Apple ecosystem. For Swift developers, this means unprecedented opportunities to create smarter, more personalized, and efficient applications. By leveraging the advanced tools and frameworks provided by Apple, developers can push the boundaries of innovation, delivering experiences that were previously unimaginable. As Apple continues to enhance its capabilities, the future for iOS development looks brighter and more dynamic than ever.

At VAIRIX, we're getting up to speed with these updates, gearing up to help you seamlessly integrate these AI features into your Swift apps—contact us today to elevate your app's capabilities.

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