Will Apple reveal its generative AI strategy at Worldwide Developers Conference in June?

The focus will be on iOS 18, which powers the iPhone that is used by about 1.46 billion users

The iPhone 15 Pro at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, where the company in June is expected to announce its plans for generative AI. Reuters
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Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, where it is expected to disclose its strategy for generative artificial intelligence.

The main speech at the iPhone maker's developer meeting is usually delivered by the chief executive, Tim Cook, who said last month that the technology company would reveal its generative AI plans this year.

Apple is on track to announce the next major updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS and visionOS at the event. The focus is set to be on iOS 18, which powers the iPhone.

When is WWDC 2024 taking place?

The 2024 WWDC event will be held from June 10 to June 14 at Apple Park, the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The five-day conference will be accessible online. However, on the first day, there is an in-person event for a limited number of developers who will be able to watch the main address at Apple Park, meet team members and take part in special activities.

Applications to secure the limited seats are on Apple's developer website.

Generative AI in the spotlight?

Mr Cook announced plans for the emerging technology in February during an annual shareholder meeting, without giving any specific timetable.

However, the developers' conference could be the ideal opportunity for Apple to throw its hat into the generative AI race.

Mr Cook made no secret about Apple's present strategy, acknowledging that the tech company was “currently investing significantly in this area”.

“We believe that will unlock transformative opportunities for users when it comes to productivity, problem-solving and more,” he said at the time.

However, the biggest hint that AI will be front and centre at the event came from Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, whose social media post on X on Tuesday said the event was “going to be Absolutely Incredible” – with emphasis placed on the upper case “A” and “I”.

Are there any more clues?

Apple also has often used the logos of its events to provide additional hints on what to expect. The WWDC 2024 logo seems to have nothing much to give away.

However, the moving lights could be a hint at AI. Siri, Apple's digital assistant, uses dancing lights when activated.

It remains unclear if Siri will be the main gateway to Apple's next AI phase or if it will introduce a new interface.

Also, earlier this month, it was reported that Apple and Google are teaming up to use the latter's Gemini AI technology on Apple's coming flagship devices, expected to be the iPhone 16 series.

Some reports, citing sources, suggested that Apple would announce major partnerships at the WWDC. Apple does not routinely comment on plans and speculation.

And as analysts expect iPhone sales to benefit from the collaboration, on a broader scale, AI service developers are also looking into major ecosystems in which they can distribute their services and tap into a massive user base.

Apple achieved a milestone in February 2023 when it reported that it surpassed the two-billion user base mark across all its hardware products. As of 2024, there are about 1.46 billion iPhone users alone, data from technology comparison site BankMyCell shows.

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“As competition heats up and AI offerings become more alike, securing distribution channels like becoming the default AI on iOS becomes crucial,” Andreas Hassellof, chief executive of Switzerland-based technology consultancy Ombori, told The National.

“We now see that phone makers prefer to control their own AI, but Apple's collaboration might inspire similar partnerships. It'll be interesting to see if more companies team up with Apple's rivals in the future.”

Does generative AI for Apple come at a crucial time?

Yes, especially at a time when the smartphone industry is experiencing a downturn, owing to factors such as inflation, supply chain challenges, longer replacement cycles and users holding off on upgrading their devices.

Generative AI is expected to resurrect interest in the most popular consumer electronics device. Samsung has already introduced Galaxy AI in its latest S24 series.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Apple's AI plans, considered a benchmark of the technology industry. The company is no stranger to lukewarm reception at times after it makes announcements, but has been observed to bounce back once updated products are out in the market.

Generative AI would also help further boost Apple's services segment, which has carried the load with record revenue over the past years, making up for flagging iPhone sales.

For Apple, generative AI could make the next iPhones the most potent by far. It “will speed Apple’s efforts to equip multiple AI technologies in the next roll-outs of iPhones”, Ramazan Yavuz, senior research manager at the International Data Corporation, told The National.

Updated: March 27, 2024, 1:37 PM