Apple is still working on responsible generative AI, Cook says

Apple held a call with investors yesterday to reveal its Q4 2023 results, which ended its fiscal year Sept. 30. During the conference call, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was asked how the company is experimenting with generative AI. The question comes at a time when many other tech giants are developing and rolling out generative AI features. For example, Google just released its Pixel 8 Pro with a slew of AI features and Microsoft is gearing up to make AI a massive part of Windows. In response, Cook simply reiterated his public position on generative AI: Apple is working on it, but wants to do it responsibly.

“In terms of generative AI, obviously, we have work going on,” Cook said in the call, as first reported by 9to5Mac. “We’re going to do it responsibly, and you will see product advancements over time where those technologies are at the heart of them.” Cook did not go into any more detail regarding AI. The company, like most tech corporations, does not share information about ongoing projects. The talk about generative AI came up amidst Apple reporting a decrease in yearly revenue and less on-hand cash than it has had in years.

What Apple is already doing with AI

Other companies have more flashy uses of AI, like ChatGPT or Google Bard. But Apple is still steadily rolling out AI features to users. Features like Crash Detection, ECG recordings, and digital audiobook narration are all ways Apple is using AI right now. More recently, the company’s iOS 17 update also featured AI enhancements. Personal Voice allows users to create a carbon copy of their voice and store it on their phone. It’s an accessibility feature that lets iPhone speak for users in a way that sounds like them.

Cook’s comments regarding generative AI line up with his positions in the past. In February, Cook told Business Insider that he believes AI “will affect every product and every service that we have.”

The natural application for generative AI for Apple seems to be with Siri. The company’s voice assistant is now on nearly all of its products, from the iPhone to the HomePod. However, it is significantly less useful than similar options from Google and Amazon. AI-based features have already come to Google Search and will soon come to Google Assistant. So, why hasn’t it come to Apple and Siri? That might have something to do with Cook’s preference of ‘responsible’ AI. Right now, generative AI isn’t always factual or accurate.

All the applications of AI in Apple products and services are fairly accurate. When they make mistakes, they are easy to fix. For example, if Crash Detection accidentally mistakes a hard stop for a car accident, users just have to dismiss the notification to let their device know they’re okay. Based on Cook’s comments about generative AI, we’ll likely start seeing more features debut when they bring similar levels of accuracy, and recourse when they might fail.