Apple Intelligence isn’t just a way to force you into an early iPhone upgrade, Apple claims

Apple Intelligence, a highly anticipated upgrade for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users, has generated significant excitement. However, the exclusivity of this upgrade to newer devices has raised concerns. Some speculate that Apple’s AI initiative is a strategic move to encourage tech upgrades. Apple, however, has dismissed these claims, stating that the decision is based on technical requirements rather than a push for consumers to purchase new devices.

In an interview with John Gruber of Daring Fireball at WWDC 2024, John Giannandrea, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI, discussed the capabilities of Apple Intelligence. According to MacRumors, Giannandrea noted that while it is technically possible to run these advanced models on older devices, the performance would be so slow that it would render them impractical.

When asked by Gruber if Apple Intelligence was merely a tactic to boost iPhone sales, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, firmly denied the claim. He explained, “No, not at all. If that were the case, we would have included it in our latest iPads and Macs as well, wouldn’t we?”

The latest Apple Intelligence features are compatible with a broader range of devices, extending beyond just iPhones. Specifically, they are available on iPads and Macs equipped with an M1 chip or later. This means that a total of 16 Mac models and five iPad versions support these advanced capabilities. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the devices that can run Apple Intelligence, ensuring you can easily check if your device is included.

A likely and credible explanation for Apple’s selective support of Apple Intelligence features on certain devices is memory capacity. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 15 is equipped with an A16 Bionic chip and 6GB of memory, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro features the A17 Pro chip with 8GB of memory. This difference in memory could be the reason behind the varying support for Apple Intelligence across different models.

The analyst mentioned that Apple Intelligence uses a large language model with 3 billion parameters. When compressed, this model requires around 0.7 to 1.5GB of available memory. Interestingly, despite the M1 chip having less processing power than the A16 Bionic, this memory requirement theory adds some validity to the idea that Apple Intelligence might be exclusive to certain devices.

It’s reasonable to suggest that Apple has strategically considered upgrade cycles in the development of its latest AI feature.

Unveiling Truth: An Incredibly Convenient Analysis

There are definitely two sides to the debate about the exclusivity of Apple Intelligence. Apple claims that on-device AI requires significant computational power, making it impossible to support older devices. This explanation is valid and highlights the technical challenges involved.

In the interview, John Giannandrea elaborated: “Running these models, known as inference, is extremely computationally intensive. This process relies heavily on the device’s bandwidth, the size of the Apple Neural Engine, and the overall power of the device to execute these models quickly enough to be practical and useful.”

The question revolves around whether Apple has set limitations on which models can effectively run Apple Intelligence. Given that the standard iPhone 15 was released less than a year ago, there’s disappointment that Apple didn’t equip it with sufficient RAM to support its AI features adequately. Some critics argue this decision might have been intentional.

As top-tier phone cameras have reached peak development, introducing significant new upgrades has become challenging. However, AI stands out as the next groundbreaking feature poised to drive the much-anticipated upgrade cycle. Recent studies indicate a shift in iPhone upgrade trends, extending from three years to four, underscoring evolving consumer behavior.

As iPhones close the technological gap and extend software support, Apple seeks a compelling new feature to entice us to upgrade our old phones for new ones. On-device AI functionalities benefit from hardware enhancements, making them more efficient and responsive.

The upcoming Apple Intelligence promises significant advancements, set to debut alongside iOS and the iPhone 16 later this year. Whether these innovations will compel users to upgrade remains to be seen, making it a highly anticipated development in the tech community.

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