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Apple Explains Limiting AI Features to iPhone 15 Pro Models and Onwards

Apple is set to introduce artificial intelligence-powered features, dubbed Apple Intelligence, with iOS 18. However, these features will only be available on iPhone 15 Pro models and newer devices.

At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024, Apple unveiled a suite of AI features collectively called Apple Intelligence. These features will be available on devices equipped with Apple A17 Pro and M1 chips or newer. This decision restricts Apple Intelligence to the iPhone 15 Pro models in the current lineup, excluding older models and the base models of the iPhone 15 series. Apple executives explained the reasoning behind this:

According to a report by Fonearena, during a talk show at Apple’s annual developers conference, Craig Federighi, Apple’s software engineering chief, stated that while Apple aims to introduce new features to older devices, the Apple Intelligence features require specific hardware to function correctly.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are powered by the A17 Pro chip, which includes a 16-core Neural Engine responsible for handling AI workloads. Compared to the Neural Engine on the A16 Bionic chip, which powers the standard iPhone 15 models, the A17 Pro offers significantly more processing power. Federighi also mentioned that all devices compatible with Apple Intelligence need at least 8GB of RAM, which is crucial for running AI tasks.

However, older Apple devices are not entirely incapable of running AI models. During the talk show, John Giannandrea, head of Apple’s machine learning department, explained, “You could, in theory, run these models on a very old device, but it would be so slow that it would not be useful.” He emphasized that inference, the process of running a large language model (LLM), is “incredibly computationally expensive” and relies on “a combination of bandwidth in the device” and the size of the Neural Engine.

When asked if limiting Apple Intelligence to recent iPhones is a strategy to boost sales of newer and more expensive models, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s marketing chief, denied this. He argued, “If that were the case, we would have been smart enough just to include our most recent iPads and Macs too, wouldn’t we?”


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