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Apple explains why its ‘Apple Intelligence’ is limited to the iPhone 15 Pro



Apple Intelligence

Apple is gearing up to introduce its advanced AI capabilities, branded as “Apple Intelligence,” exclusively on the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models. This move has sparked discussions regarding the accessibility and rationale behind restricting such features to only the latest devices.

The AI initiative, led by Apple’s AI chief John Giannandrea, promises enhanced functionalities including a more sophisticated Siri and advanced semantic AI capabilities. These improvements rely heavily on the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Bionic chip, equipped with a powerful 16-core Neural Processing Unit (NPU) capable of processing up to 35 trillion operations per second (TOPS). This marks a significant leap from the A16 Bionic chip found in other models, which has a purported speed of 17 TOPS.

Giannandrea explained that the decision to limit these AI features to the iPhone 15 Pro series is primarily due to the computational intensity of running large language models locally on devices. He emphasized that the inference process required for AI tasks is “incredibly computationally expensive,” necessitating the advanced hardware capabilities found only in the latest iPhone models.

Apple’s stance on the exclusivity of AI features has been met with skepticism, with questions raised about whether it’s a strategy to encourage users to upgrade to newer devices. In response to these concerns, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s head of marketing, asserted that the decision was not driven by a desire to push sales but rather by the technical requirements of running AI efficiently.

Joswiak pointed out that if profit were the sole motivation, Apple would have restricted AI features to only the most recent iPads and Macs as well. This underscores Apple’s commitment to integrating AI capabilities where hardware capabilities align optimally, ensuring a seamless user experience without compromising performance.

While the iPhone 15 Pro series will enjoy exclusive access to certain AI features, Apple reassured that recent M-series chips in MacBooks and iPads will also benefit from Apple Intelligence. The progression in neural processing power across Apple’s chip lineup—from the M1 chip’s 11 TOPS to the latest M4 chip’s 38 TOPS in the iPad Pro—reflects the company’s ongoing advancements in AI-driven capabilities across its ecosystem.

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