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Generative AI expected to dominate at ‘momentous’ Apple conference

The tech giant’s annual developer conference – WWDC – takes place on Monday evening.

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Apple is expected to unveil a wide range of new generative artificial intelligence tools on Monday night, as it looks to rival Google, Microsoft and Samsung in embracing the emerging technology.

After hinting at it for several months, and while many of their biggest rivals have rolled out a range of new generative AI tools, WWDC (Worldwide Developers’ Conference) is finally expected to be the moment Apple lays out its plans for using the technology.

Experts say this will be a big moment for the tech sector as a whole, given the widespread use of Apple devices. How generative AI is embedded into the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac computers and other devices will have a substantial impact on the future of the emerging technology.

Apple’s investors will also be keen to see what the company has planned for what many believe will be the key innovation of this generation.

Experts are predicting Apple’s AI plans to come in several layers.

Firstly, that broad AI-powered updates will be made across core apps to help with basic, everyday tasks, for example new AI editing tools to help with photos and videos, better predictive text for messages and emails or quick, AI-generated summaries of webpages or longer emails.

In addition to this, there are reports that Apple will use the event to announce a deal with ChatGPT maker OpenAI, which will see the chatbot and virtual assistant integrated directly into Apple’s software across iPhone, iPad and Mac, to help with more detailed, complex tasks.

Despite many of these features already being available on rival platforms, industry expert Ben Wood, the chief analyst at CCS Insight, said Apple is likely to use its “strength in storytelling” to make these updates appear “new”, rather than “just catching up with Samsung and others”.

“We expect that most features showcased at WWDC will be things we’ve seen before with examples including a host of improvements to photo editing and optimisation, transcription and translation tools, deeper integration of AI into automatic responses to messages and chat tools, and improvements to a suite of apps including Apple Music, Fitness and Health to make them feel more personalised,” he said.

“I think there will be a very slick demo showing how easy it is to edit a photo using generative AI to remove people from backgrounds or add missing elements.

“Numerous Android smartphones already offer this, but if Apple does it, suddenly everyone will get excited.”

Mr Wood added that the rumoured deal with OpenAI over ChatGPT being built into Apple products could give the tech giant’s current voice assistant, Siri, a major boost – software the industry expert said currently “feels like talking to a “pre-schooler” in comparison with the latest generative AI chatbots.

“I’ve been using the ChatGPT voice interface, and its understanding of questions and requests is the best I’ve experienced so far,” he said.

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There are reports that Apple will use the event to announce a deal with ChatGPT maker OpenAI (John Walton/PA)

“If Apple has signed a deal to integrate GPT-4o with Siri, it could deliver a remarkable transformation in Siri’s performance — and emerge as arguably the biggest story from the event.”

Although the integration of generative AI tools is expected to dominate the event, the US tech giant will also provide its traditional annual software updates to its suite of products, with the technology that powers the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and others all due to receive updated operating systems.

“This feels like a momentous WWDC,” Mr Wood said.

“At a time when AI is transcending the tech industry, Apple is arguably on the back foot for the first time in a while.

“However, the company is no laggard and we expect it to come out fighting as it seeks to demonstrate how it can use AI to deliver meaningful improvements to its apps and services.”

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