Apple says AI features are coming to your iPhone ‘later this year’ – here’s what to expect

For the past year or two, the world has watched as a string of incredible artificial intelligence (AI) tools have appeared, and everyone has been wondering one thing: when will Apple join the party? Now, we finally have an answer.

On a recent earnings call (via The Verge), Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that AI tools are coming to the company’s devices as soon as “later this year.” Cook then added that “I think there’s a huge opportunity for Apple with generative AI.” While the Apple chief didn’t reveal any specifics, the small amount he did discuss has already been enough to get tongues wagging and for speculation to run riot.

It’s no surprise that Apple is working on generative AI tools – Cook admitted as much back in August 2023, when he explained that Apple has been developing its own generative AI “for years.” But the latest admission is the first time we’ve seen anyone put a launch date on things, even if it is a very rough date.

Given that this is a software update (and a big one at that), it seems likely that Apple has is its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in mind. The company will use this June event to unveil its upcoming operating systems and software upgrades (like iOS 18). And with its audience mostly comprised of developers, it makes sense for Apple to tease something like generative AI that could give devs a new tool in their iOS arsenal.

As well as that, industry analyst Jeff Pu has previously claimed that iOS 18 will be one of Apple’s biggest software updates ever precisely because of its inclusion of generative AI, so Cook’s statements seem to confirm Pu’s claim. That means there could be a lot to look forward to at WWDC – and some big new features coming to your iPhone.

What's en route?

The most likely upgrade that Cook is referring to is a rebooted version of Apple's Siri voice assistant. Bloomberg's reliable Apple commentator Mark Gurman recently predicted that iOS 18 will be “one of the biggest iOS updates – if not the biggest – in the company's history” and that this will be largely tied to a “big upgrade to Siri”.

According to another respected leaker Revegnus, Apple is building a proprietary LLM (large language model) to “completely revamp Siri into the ultimate virtual assistant”. It's about time – while Siri was impressive when it landed over a decade ago, it's since plateaued. So we can expect a much more conversational, and powerful, voice assistant by the end of 2024.

Close-up of the Siri interface

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Tada Images)

But what else might benefit from the generative AI that Apple's been working on? Messages, Apple Music and Pages are all expected to receive significant AI-based improvements later this year, with some of Apple's rivals recently giving us hints of what to expect. Google Messages will soon get added Bard powers for texting help, while Spotify has already shown that the future of streaming is AI-powered DJs.  

Lastly, there's photography and video, but it seems likely that Apple will tread more carefully than Samsung and Google here. The Galaxy S24 cameras are all about AI skills, which are something of a mixed bag. While Instant Slow-Mo (which generates extra frames of video to turn standard 4K/60p video into slow motion clips) is very clever and useful, Generative Edit opens the floodgates to digital fakery (even with its watermarks).

It'll be fascinating to see how Apple treads this line across all aspects of the iPhone. But one other key iPhone feature, privacy, could also put the brakes on Apple getting too carried away with generative AI… 

Why Apple is taking its time

Siri

(Image credit: Unsplash [Omid Armin])

Apple has been consistently criticized for not launching its own generative AI, especially as arch-rival Microsoft has been so decisive in spreading its Copilot AI to almost every aspect of Windows and its own apps.

But there’s a likely reason for Apple’s sluggishness, and it comes down to user privacy. Apple takes a strong stance on this, and often touts its devices’ privacy-protecting capabilities as one of their main benefits. AI tools are known to sweep up user data and have been known for their privacy compromises, so it’s no surprise that Apple has taken its time here, presumably to ensure its AI is as pro-privacy as possible.

As well as that, Apple doesn’t usually rush into a new market before it is ready, instead preferring to wait a little longer before blowing its rivals away with something it thinks is far superior. We saw that with the original iPhone, for example, and also with the Apple Vision Pro, and it seems that generative AI is just the latest thing to get this treatment from Apple.

Whether Apple’s own AI actually is better than the likes of ChatGPT and Copilot remains to be seen, but it looks like we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

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Oh dear… Windows 11’s big update later this year could be a yawn-fest

Windows 11’s next major update, known as 23H2, may not be all that ‘major’ after all if clues floated by the rumor mill pan out.

A regular source of Microsoft-related leakage on Twitter, PhantomOfEarth, pointed out that a new internal build of Windows 11 (version 22631.1825) comes with an enablement package (KB5027397). Prompting the leaker to ask the question: “Could 23H2 be a servicing style/enablement package update after all?”

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What does that mean? If you recall, Microsoft has used enablement package updates in the past, where the new features are essentially preloaded to the OS before the release of the update. The upgrade itself is then triggered by the flick of a switch (the enablement package is that switch).

What this means is that the update is a very straightforward and quick one, but also, that it won’t come with a huge number of changes.

So, the tentative conclusion at this point is that the 23H2 update landing later this year may not be all that extensive in terms of what it does and the new features introduced.


Analysis: A low-key year for Windows 11?

This idea is backed up by the fact that we’ve not really heard much about 23H2, and Microsoft has stayed pretty quiet on the subject – which would make sense if there wasn’t much to shout about.

Most of the talk of late has been about ‘Moment 3’ – a (non-annual) feature update that should contain a fair few changes. However, as we’ve seen in preview builds, there are quite a number of minor tweaks and embellishments, but nothing that jumps out in the category of juicy additions.

Of course, we don’t know for sure that 23H2 is going to be an enablement affair, and more minor in terms of the typical scope of Microsoft’s annual releases – so let’s not jump to conclusions just yet, as mentioned.

Still, it’s difficult to get too excited about the near future for Windows 11, when with a somewhat uneventful ‘Moment’ coming imminently, and maybe 23H2 lacking any potent additions, well, it all feels rather dull on the innovation front.

Is the biggest thing that’s going to happen the File Explorer revamp with built-in photo gallery? Well, that’s certainly something, and at least we can hope that Microsoft manages to make some of the other important tweaks to the interface we’d like to see implemented, which have been spotted in testing (or behind the scenes in preview). Like that ‘never combine’ option for the taskbar, for starters.

If there is something else hefty in the pipeline for 23H2, it’s well hidden, and with all the leakers constantly digging into Windows 11’s preview code, it’d be quite an achievement for Microsoft to keep something sizeable under wraps (with the second half of the year being almost upon us now).

Via Ghacks

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Apple Pay Later is finally rolling out for a chosen few across 45 US states

After suffering through multiple delays, Apple Pay Later is finally touching down as it begins rolling out to randomly selected users across the United States.

Originally, the service was supposed to launch alongside iOS 16 back in September 2022, but developers ran into a variety of “technical setbacks”. Apple Pay Later allows people to apply for loans from $ 50 up to $ 1,000 to purchase whatever they want while avoiding paying the full price up-front. From there, users will pay off that amount in four separate payments across six weeks with no interest or extra fees slapped on top. $ 1,000 is a decent chunk of change, however, it's not a guarantee. Eligibility depends on your credit score; a history with low numbers will qualify for smaller loans. 

The feature will have its home in the Apple Wallet which comes with a detailed calendar that'll notify you of upcoming payments. If you're having a hard time paying, Apple will work with you to make up a new plan. And if you still can't pay off the bill, you won't be eligible for future loans. Customers must connect either a bank or debit card to their account to use the money. Credit cards cannot be used in order to, as Apple notes in its release, “prevent users from taking on more debt to pay back loans”.

Basic requirements

Before applying, you'll need to meet some basic requirements first. Currently, the feature is unavailable in Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wisconsin plus all US Territories. Currently, Apple Pay Later is available in 45 states. People living in Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Wisconsin, or any of the US territories do not have access to the feature, at this time. You have to be at least 18 years old (19 if you live in Alabama) and living in a supported state with a valid physical address.

As for hardware, all you need is an iPhone or iPad updated to iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4, respectively, with two-factor authentication enabled.

Once everything is squared away, you can apply through Apple Wallet via an option at the top. Be aware the company will run a “soft credit pull” to see if you’re in a “good financial position” to borrow the money. Those rejected will get an email from Apple explaining why you didn't make the cut.

Money rules

There are some rules regarding how you can spend the loan, however. 

The money will appear on the checkout page of a purchase under the Pay Later option where you’ll have 30 days to use everything. Past that time, you’ll have to reapply all over again. Whatever you get has to be used on one big order as leftover money can't be reused somewhere else. Additionally, the loan will only be accepted by online retailers and apps supporting Apple Pay, but you won't be forced to just buy Apple tech. It'll work for multiple products bought from a single retailer. Apple cannot see the details of that transaction (your purchase of an Xbox Series X and Sonic Colors Ultimate at Target.com will not be judged).

Pay Later is not currently supporting in-physical-store payments.

Apple Pay Later customers won't pay any fees, but Apple will be making some money off this program through its cut of the fees installment payment plan provider, Mastercard, charges retailers.

The company is pretty set on maxing out the loan at $ 1,000. For more expensive purchases, say a MacBook Pro, Apple recommends using something like the Apple Card to have payments across months instead of weeks. There are plans to expand support to all eligible customers in the US later this fall when Apple Financing, LLC, begins reporting to American credit bureaus. Unfortunately, there are currently no plans for a global launch.

Hopefully, there will be. Until then, check out TechRadar's list of the best iPhone models for 2023 if you're looking for a new device.

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LG pulls out of MWC due to Coronavirus – will launch phones later in 2020

LG Electronics has officially pulled out of MWC 2020 citing safety concerns around the coronavirus outbreak and its spread beyond Chinese borders.

"With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain," an official LG Electronics statement read. "This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised."

Instead of revealing handsets at Mobile World Congress, LG will hold separate events "in the near future" to announce its lineup of 2020 phones and mobile products.

Hours before, ZTE had announced it would officially be pulling out of MWC and canceling its press conference, partially due to travel and visa issues but also over concerns of the coronavirus – but more because of the mild xenophobia that comes with the China-originated disease, a spokesperson told The Verge

MWC: LG and ZTE out, Huawei and Qualcomm reportedly still in

Before LG and ZTE's actions, GSMA, the organization behind MWC, released a statement maintaining that the coronavirus has had "minimal impact on the event thus far."

Huawei and Qualcomm still plan on attending, according to CNET's Shara Tibken.

GSMA's statement mentions the additional hygienic measures the organization has taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, including increased disinfection, onsite medical support, and providing more sanitising and disinfecting products on-site.

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