Apple enters AI race with ambitions to overtake the early leaders

Apple jumped into the race to bring generative artificial intelligence to the masses during its World Wide Developers Conference Monday, previewing an onslaught of features designed to soup up the iPhone and other popular products with technology already available on rival devices.

In a twist befitting a company known for its marketing prowess, the AI technology coming to iPhones, iPads and Mac computers later this year is being billed as "Apple Intelligence."

Even as it tried to put its stamp on the hottest area of technology, Apple acknowledged it needed some help to catch up with others such as Microsoft and Google, who have emerged as the early leaders in the field. Apple is leaning on ChatGPT, made by the San Francisco startup OpenAI, to help make its often-bumbling virtual assistant Siri smarter and more helpful.

To herald the alliance with Apple, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman sat in the front row of the packed conference, which included developers attending from more than 60 countries worldwide.

"All of this goes beyond artificial intelligence, it’s personal intelligence, and it is the next big step for Apple," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

Beyond giving Siri the ability to tap into ChatGPT’s AI-driving skills, Apple is giving its 13-year-old virtual assistant an extensive makeover designed to make it more personable and versatile than it is now, even as it fields about 1.5 billion queries a day.

When Apple releases free updates to the software powering the iPhone and its other products this autumn, Siri will signal its presence with glowing, flashing lights along the edges of the display screen, and be able to handle hundreds of more tasks — including chores that may require tapping into third-party devices — than it can now, based on Monday’s presentations.