Apple Intelligence might be late to the party, but it's another shining example of why Apple believes doing things right is better than being first and doing them wrong

Apple Intelligence
(Image credit: Apple)

The biggest news of WWDC 2024 was the unveiling of Apple Intelligence, Cupertino's answer to critics that it is behind the curve in the use of AI and late to the game in terms of offering AI-powered features to its users. Apple Intelligence won't ship until later this year, and even then it'll carry the beta tag. But what we've seen so far is certainly promising.

But it's still fair to say that Apple really is late to offer features that leverage AI in new and interesting ways. While the Camera app does use AI to leverage the power of the iPhone 15 Pro's cameras to select the perfect shot when you press the shutter button, it's nothing compared to the heavy capabilities of, say, a Pixel 8 Pro. And Apple knows it.

But Apple has always been comfortable in its assertion that being late to the party is better than stinking the place out when you arrive. We still don't have a foldable iPhone because Apple doesn't want to ship something with an ugly crease down the middle of its screen. It was late to wearables. To mixed reality. The iPhone wasn't the first smartphone, either. But as Microsoft has shown with its own foray into AI-enhanced computing, being late and not-so-good is even worse than being early and bad. And it's another example of why Apple's approach has stood it in good stead for years.

Close, but not cigar

Apple Intelligence isn't only about the Mac and it will also be available on the iPad and Mac, too. Over in the world of Windows, Microsoft Copilot Plus brings new AI features to PCs running the company's operating system, but are those features any good?

Microsoft is already deep into its development of AI technologies thanks to a deal with OpenAI, the same company that Apple will use for more advanced Chatbot requests. But its launch of Copilot Plus is an attempt to bring AI-powered features to the PC in a new way, but Tom's Hardware has dubbed those features "a bad joke," which doesn't bode well.

In particular, we're told that features that create images from text, add live captions to content, and more are either underbaked or simply do not work. And even if they did, are they actually all that useful in day-to-day computing? That's a matter for debate, to be sure

Admittedly, we're yet to put Apple Intelligence through its paces but on first blush, the features it will bring to the Mac appear to have what it takes to make meaningful improvements to the way we use our Macs. Time will tell, but things do look promising so far.

What will Apple be fashionably late to next?

The real question here is where Apple is going to go next. I already mentioned the lack of a foldable phone which is surely going to change in the future. The Apple Car project is dead and buried, at least for now. So what's next?

A foldable MacBook seems likely at this point and yes, foldable laptops already exist in some form over in the Windows PC world. It's still unclear what Apple's device will actually look like, but there's one thing we can be sure of – Apple might be late to the party once more, but it'll make quite the entrance once it does finally arrive.

iPhone 15 Pro | $999 at Apple

iPhone 15 Pro | $999 at Apple

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.