Is Apple deliberately holding iOS 18 AI features to sell newer iPhones? Top executive says; ‘our first move is to…’

Apple announced its foray into the world of artificial intelligence with the arrival of Apple Intelligence at the WWDC 2024 event earlier this month. Apple Intelligence brings with it a host of nifty features, including a revamped Siri interface that can hold conversations for longer periods of time, Photos app makeover, integration with ChatGPT, and the ability to generate images and emoji.

While most of the new AI features aren’t likely to arrive this year, when they do, they’ll be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro and later models. This means that even the latest iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will not get the new AI features.

Apple is reportedly working on a much more powerful chipset for the iPhone 16 series, which is expected to support the new AI features in all 4 models. But the omission of the vanilla iPhone 15 models from the list of supported devices for Apple Intelligence has left many users wondering whether this was a ploy by Apple to generate more buzz and thus more sales for the iPhone 16, or whether the iPhone 15 Plus and older models are actually incapable of handling these complex tasks.

Apple explains why older iPhones don’t support Apple Intelligence:

Thankfully, we now have some much-needed clarity on why Apple hasn’t brought these AI features to older iPhones. Speaking to John Gruber of the Daring Fireball podcast, John Giannandrea (Apple’s vice president of machine learning and AI strategy) revealed that while the AI models that power Apple Intelligence could theoretically run a very old device, they would be so slow that they would not be useful at all.

Giannandrea said, “The inference of large language models is incredibly computationally expensive… You could in theory run these models on a very old device, but it would be so slow that it would not be useful” 

Gruber then asked other top Apple executies on the panel: Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak if the restrictions were a ‘scheme to sell new iPhones’. Responding to the assertion, Joswiak said that if that was the case, Apple would have been ‘smart enough’ to restrict new AI features to just the newly launched iPads and Macs. 

Meanwhile, addressing the issue head on, Federighi said, “Our first move in any way is to figure out how we can bring features back as far as we can… It’s a pretty extraordinary thing to run models of this power on an iPhone and it turned out it took us building this iPhone.”





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Published: 22 Jun 2024, 04:11 PM IST