Why WWDC 2024 was one of the biggest events in Apple's history

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WWDC 2024 has come and gone, and as the final developer sessions and workshops wrap up it’s time to reflect on what might well be the biggest and most important Apple event in the company’s history. Competition is fierce — arguably the most obvious choice is the original iPhone keynote from January 2007, where Steve Jobs uttered the immortal words “An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator... these are not three separate devices.” Other candidates include the Apple silicon events, either the WWDC 2020 announcement or indeed the November 2020 unveiling of the very first Apple silicon chip. 

Whichever Apple event you think ranks as the greatest or the most important, for years to come WWDC 2024 will now feature in the conversation, and that’s because it heralded the advent of Apple Intelligence, AI on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. 

Apple Intelligence at Apple Park

(Image credit: Apple)

For months we’ve been hearing naysayers talk about how Apple is behind in the AI race, caught off guard by the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft CoPilot, and more. Yet many of these services have strained to find mass-market appeal. More notably, AI-specific devices like the Rabbit R1 and the Humane AI Pin have bombed spectacularly. To that end, Apple has taken a different approach. The company trotted out AI in its customary cool and collected manner, not as a standalone entity, a big scary LLM, or even as its own product, but rather a series of subtle, unique tools that will underpin every facet of iPhone, iPad, and Mac for years to come.  

A new approach

Apple Intelligence at Apple Park

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple seems to have taken all the successes (and failures) of burgeoning AI rivals and wrapped them all up into one neat package that is neither in your face nor intimidating. Despite serving up generative AI including both language and writing tools and Image Playground, Apple has broadly avoided talk that it's trying to crush creativity with artificial intelligence (something it famously missed on with its iPad Pro M4 launch). There are no intimidating LLMs, no silly clip-on devices, and impressively no costs. Rather, Apple has delivered a plethora of features that iPhone, iPad, and Mac customers will actually use, integrating AI into all of its platforms as a feature, rather than a standalone product, in a way that often only Apple can do. As Apple said, it's “AI for the rest of us,” and I think it might be right. 

With one major caveat, of course. Apple Intelligence is right now reserved for all of its most potent, and most expensive hardware. You’ll need an M-powered Mac, iPad, or iPhone 15 Pro to use Apple Intelligence. Only with time will that bar of entry lower, as more powerful Apple silicon chips filter down through the lineup of its less expensive iPhones. Conversely, Apple Intelligence is now a major selling point of the iPhone 15 Pro and could prove to be a major factor in pushing more Apple users to upgrade their phone, tablet, or Mac hardware earlier than they might have done otherwise.  

Regardless, Apple Intelligence is here to stay, for better or worse. Only time will tell how fondly we look back on this week's announcement and the place it should take in Apple lore for years to come. 

Boot up

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For your reading list

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Feeling brave and have a device you don’t rely on? Download the iOS 18 beta for your iPhone now.

One more thing

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Deal of the week

M3 MacBook Air | $1,099$899 at Amazon

M3 MacBook Air | $1,099 $899 at Amazon

We’ve seen this price before on the MacBook Air M3, but it remains the lowest price its ever been. This makes it only $70 more than the also currently reduced M2 MacBook Air — and as a result, a very worthy spend to get the more potent machine.

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9