Apple's new 'boost' to generative AI flags a very different approach to its competitors — on-device AI support could set the iPhone 16 apart

iPhone 15 Plus review
(Image credit: Future)

Apple seems to have gotten to AI a little late, with the new Samsung S24 Ultra shipping with AI support, but recent reports suggest it is investing in something that will set the iPhone 16 apart from other flagship phones.

A Financial Times article about Apple’s new 'boosts’ to AI this week says “Apple is quietly increasing its capabilities in artificial intelligence, making a series of acquisitions, staff hires and hardware updates that are designed to bring AI to its next generation of iPhones.“

The report then goes on to cite research from Morgan Stanley that half of Apple’s job listings talk about “deep learning”, a central part of AI. The most important part of this article is the acknowledgment that recent advancements are being made to run AI functions on-device, as opposed to a cloud-based solution. 

AI, the Apple Way

As pointed out by Mrwhosetheboss’ hands-on with the Samsung S24 Ultra, while some of the device's AI functions are on-device, many of the most impressive ones use the cloud. This can be a problem for those with a poor connection or when many people use the same cloud servers at the same time. 

However, Apple’s approach is an interesting one as the new Neural Engines in both the iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 suggest Apple is working on hardware advancement to further improve on-device AI. This means no waiting around for servers to respond and a generally smoother experience. This comes with the cost of not always working on the newest data, as cloud servers tend to synthesize current phone data at every moment. However, Apple’s focus on security and privacy would hold back a cloud solution anyway as users would likely have to opt in to sharing that data. 

Apple is a company known for smooth and easy experiences and on-device AI functionality would only drive this reputation home, even if cloud-based AI has the potential to be more powerful.

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.