Apple Intelligence is AI, done Apple’s way

A unique, customer-focused approach to artificial intelligence.

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Steve Jobs wisely said that to design great tech products, you need to begin with the user experience.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology,” he said in 1997. “You can’t start with the technology then try to figure out where to sell it.”

Apple clearly demonstrated a commitment to this design principle while introducing a raft of AI features — under the umbrella term “Apple Intelligence” — during Monday’s WWDC24 keynote.

Take Memories, for example, a feature in the Photos app that lets you create short slideshows of photos and videos accompanied by music.

Currently, you can create Memories manually. It can be a real chore, hunting through your Photos library for photos and videos to include, then arranging, editing and scoring your mini-production.

But Monday’s keynote showed a Memory Movie created by Apple Intelligence from a simple prompt: “Leo learning to fish and making a big catch, set to a fishing tune.”

Apple Intelligence searched through the presenter’s photos and videos, identifying pictures of Leo (the presenter’s son) when he was near water, holding a fishing rod, posing with a big fish, and so on.

The resulting Memory Movie selected the appropriate photos and even arranged them in a coherent narrative arc, set to a suitable tune.

It’s but one small example from the nearly two-hour keynote that showed Apple has been thinking deeply about AI.

All too often, the tech industry seems to be doing the opposite of what Apple is doing: AI companies come up with cool AI features, and then figure out how to sell them.

But Apple took the extra step of taking cool AI features and figuring out how they can be used to do things the customer might actually want to do — like make nice Memories.

Monday’s keynote was a firehose of information. We’ve done our best to bring you news of the most important features and announcements.

Also in today’s newsletter:

— Leander Kahney, EIC.

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One more thing ...

My strength probably is that I've always viewed technology from a liberal arts perspective, from a human culture perspective. As such, I've always pushed for things that pulled technology in those directions by bringing insights from other fields. An example of that would be — with the Macintosh — desktop publishing: its proportionately spaced fonts, its ease of use.

All of the desktop publishing stuff on the Mac comes from books: the typography, that rich feel that nobody in computers knew anything about.

— Steve Jobs, from the Make Something Wonderful eBook, 2023.

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