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Apple Is Finally Bringing AI to iPhone, iPad, and Mac

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Follow Lifehacker’s ongoing coverage of WWDC 2024.

Apple is finally ready for its AI moment, after years of speculation and four generations of devices with almost unused neural engines inside. At its 2024 WWDC conference, the company formally announced Apple Intelligence (yes, pun intended), set to release in beta for iPhone, iPad and Mac this fall.

It’ll be interesting to see how Apple interacts with such a nascent technology. As with Apple Vision Pro, the company usually prefers to wait on trends until it can release a refined, largely frictionless take on them. AI, meanwhile, still frequently “gets it wrong,” as Google learned with its AI Overviews feature earlier this month.

Nevertheless, Apple is going full steam ahead with AI in messages, mail, notifications, writing, images, and perhaps most intriguingly, Siri. The company promised it can maintain its reputation for polish, too, with a greater focus on privacy and on-device processing than the competition.

Details on how exactly Apple’s AI works are light, but overall, the company’s promising to do more than Google, Rabbit, or pretty much any competition has done so far. Let’s break it down.

AI in Siri

AI in Siri


Credit: Apple

Perhaps the most innovative Apple Intelligence feature is Siri, which is getting a full makeover complete with a new logo.

It’s a moment that’s been a long-time coming: Since Siri introduced the world to the digital assistant in 2011, it’s been overtaken by competitors like Google Assistant and Alexa in many other respects. Now, Apple is doubling down on Siri, fully revamping it with AI even as Google inches towards replacing Google Assistant with Gemini. The result? A much more natural AI assistant than on Android.

Right now, on Android, replacing Assistant with Gemini will just take you to a shortcut for the web app. Unlike its “dumber” predecessor, Gemini can’t set reminders, adjust phone settings, or open apps, meaning its promises of more functionality actually come with less functionality.

That’s not supposed to be the case with the new Siri, which will maintain all its “dumb” features, but come with new contextual awareness. Now, when you open Siri, it’ll take a look at what’s on your screen, and will be able to offer advice based on what’s displayed. You could be looking at the Wikipedia page for Mount Rushmore, for instance, and ask, “What’s the weather here?” to get Siri to tell you a forecast for your trip.

Contextual awareness isn’t limited to what you have pulled up in the moment, either. Apple says Siri will also be able to search your libraries and apps to take “hundreds of new actions,” even in third-party programs. Say you save this article to your reading list right now. When Apple Intelligence comes to your iPhone, you could ask Siri to, “Bring up the Lifehacker article about WWDC from my reading list” to access it again.

AI in Siri with contextual awareness


Credit: Apple

Or, more personally, say you’re texting a friend about a podcast. With the new Siri, you could just ask, “Play that podcast Dave recommended this weekend,” and Siri will know what you’re talking about and pull it up.

The implications here are big, both for usefulness and privacy. Overall, promised contextual features include:

  • Contextual answers for questions

  • Contextual search in photos and videos (for example, you could ask Siri to bring up all photos of you wearing a red shirt)

  • Ability to take contextual actions for you, like adding an on-screen address to a contact card or applying auto-enhance touch-ups to photos for you

But Siri’s also hoping to bring an Apple Genius into your home, as Siri is coming preloaded with tutorials on how to use your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Just ask the assistant, “How to turn on dark mode” or, “How to schedule an email,” and Siri will reference its training material and feed you an answer though an on-screen notification, rather than sending you to a help page. (We’ll still be here for all your tech advice needs.)

Siri how to for Apple device


Credit: Apple

One of Siri’s more traditional, prompt-based features is the ability to create custom, AI-powered video montages. Right now, Apple’s Memory Collages just automatically generate in the background, algorithmically tying together photos the OS thinks are related and setting them to background music the software thinks will fit. Soon, you’ll be able to give Siri specific directions, referencing contacts, an activity or place, and a style of music. Siri will then contextually generate a fitting montage, with music pulled from Apple Music.

There’s also typical AI chatbot features, like the ability to ask questions. Oddly, Apple wasn’t clear on whether Siri will be able to answer questions directly (at least those not related to Apple devices), but the company has a back-up: Through Siri, you can ask ChatGPT your questions.

Because Apple’s privacy settings differ from ChatGPT’s (more on that later), Siri will prompt you to give it permission for ChatGPT each time you use it. Then, the assistant will ask your question for you, no account required. Like DuckDuckGo, Apple will also hide your IP address when using ChatGPT for you, and the company promises OpenAI will not log your requests. ChatGPT subscribers can also link their accounts to Siri for access to paid features, although Apple does warn that free users will face the typical data use limitations.

Siri’s AI features will be usable across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and present what looks like a more natural AI-powered assistant than Google’s approach of starting over with Gemini. That said, if it seemed like it’s still limited compared to what other LLM chatbots can do, that’s because Apple Intelligence is much bigger than Siri.

Apple Intelligence is going above and beyond the Google Pixel

A big part of Apple’s AI presentation this year seemed targeted at Pixel, specifically its AI “feature drops.” Until now, Pixel transcriptions and Magic Editor have been big exclusives for Google, but Apple Intelligence is finally giving its biggest competitor a shot in the same arena.

First, iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS devices are getting their own takes on Magic Eraser and Live Transcription. In the Photos app, users can tap a new Clean Up icon to circle or tap subjects they want cut out of a picture. Photos will remove the offending subject, then use generative AI to fill in where they were. It’s not quite on the level of Magic Editor, which allows you to move subjects around once selected, but Google is firmly on notice.

Clean Up in iPhone


Credit: Apple

Similarly, the Notes app will be able to summarize and transcribe audio recordings for you, a boon for journalists like me. I’ve had colleagues choose the Pixel for its transcribing feature alone, and now I’ll finally be able to keep up on my iPhone. Even better—Notes will also be able to transcribe phone calls live.

That does present a legal issue, so actual usage is likely going to differ from state to state and from country to country, as recording laws differ depending on where you are. For now, Apple says the Phone app will warn you when a recording is about to start.

But beyond features that are similar to those on Google’s flagship, Apple’s also developing unique draws of its own. Here, the company is making it easier to manage your notifications and mail.

The standout features here are Priority Messages and Priority Notifications. With Priority Messages, Apple AI attempts to find “the most urgent emails” and push them to the top of your inbox. Priority Notifications takes a similar approach, but with lock-screen notifications from texts and apps.

Priority Notifications


Credit: Apple

With both of these, you’ll have the option to have the AI write you a summary of the mail or notification rather than previewing its content, helping you quickly browse your feed. In Mail, you’ll actually be able to get summaries across your whole inbox.

Apple pitches this as a great way to stay up-to-date with time sensitive information like boarding passes. Additionally, in Mail, you’ll be able to use Smart Reply to have AI quickly type out a reply for you based on the context of your email. You’ll also be able to get summaries across an entire conversation, not just for the first email.

With these updates, Apple is finally coming for Google’s software, hoping to dethrone the Pixel from being “the smartest smartphone.” But these innovations aren’t without risk. Take the Reduce Interruptions Focus mode, which will use AI to show “only the notifications that might need immediate attention, like a text about an early pickup from daycare.” Relying on Apple Intelligence for what to show you is putting a lot of trust in an untested model, although it’s promising for Apple that it has the confidence to push that kind of feature out at launch.

Apple can help you write and generate images

Speaking of risk, it’s time to talk about the bread and butter of AI: image and text generation.

Even as Google is telling people to use “squat plugs,” Apple apparently feels confident enough in its models that it’s trusting them to help you be creative. Enter Rewrite, Image Playground, and Genmoji. Across compatible first-party and even third-party apps, these will allow you to create content using both Apple’s own models, and in some cases, ChatGPT.

Rewrite is the most familiar of these. Here, Apple is promising system-level AI help with text “nearly everywhere” you write, including in Notes, Safari, Pages and more via developer SDKs. From a right-click style menu on highlighted text, users will be able to give Apple Intelligence a custom prompt, or select from a number of pre-selected tones, and the AI will then rewrite the text accordingly.

Not into having AI change your text? It’ll also be able to proofread it to point out errors, summarize it (useful if you’re reading rather than writing), or reformat it into a table or list.

It’s similar to Chrome’s new ability to rewrite text on a right-click, but with way more options and supposedly available across many more apps. It’s also more accessible than Copilot, which lives in a separate menu, siloed away from the rest of Windows.

You’ll also be able to generate text from scratch, although Apple will lean on ChatGPT for this.

ChatGPT text generation on Mac


Credit: Apple

Image Playground and Genmoji are where things get more novel. Instead of having to go to a specific website like Dall-E or Gemini, Apple devices will now have image generation baked right into the operating system.

Available as its own app, baked into Messages, or integrated into other compatible apps via an SDK, Image Playground looks like your typical AI art generator, but powered by the same type of contextual analysis as Siri. For instance, you could give it a prompt, tell Image Playground to incorporate someone from your contacts list into it, and get art with a caricature of that person.

Again, Apple’s putting a lot of faith in its AI here. Say I send someone an image made with Image Playground and it hasn’t necessarily been flattering in how it’s depicted them: Yikes.

Image Playground


Credit: Apple

That said, it seems like there might be guardrails on the experience. Apple’s marketing language is a bit vague as to what the limits are here, but even with a prompt box prominently displayed in example, Apple is consistently telling us that we’ll have to “choose from a range of concepts” including “themes, costumes, accessories, and places.” It’s possible Apple won’t let users generate controversial images, an issue Bing and Meta have previously contended with. 

But let’s say you don’t want a full image with lots of detail anyway. Apple’s also introducing Genmoji, which are similar to Meta’s AI stickers. Here, you’ll be able to give Apple’s AI a prompt and get back custom emoji done up in a similar style to Unicode’s official options. Again, these can include cartoon representations of people from your contacts list, but like emoji, they can also be added inline to messages or shared as a sticker react. Again, we don’t know the limits of what Apple will allow here.

Genmoji on iPhone


Credit: Apple

We’ll have to wait until Apple’s AI images drop to properly see how well they compete against existing options, but perhaps the most interesting thing here is the ability to naturally generate images in existing apps. While Apple promises this will extend beyond Notes, one example the company showed had it selecting a sketch in Notes and generating a full piece of art based on it. Another had the AI simply generate a brand new image in Notes based on surrounding text.

That convenience, especially as AI remains split across dozens of sites and services, is sure to be a big selling point here.

Apple is promising private, on-device AI

Apple hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about the training materials for its AI, but something the company did push was its privacy.

Recently, moves from Meta and Adobe have raised concerns about AI’s access to its users data. Apple wants to put any such worries about its own AI to bed right away.

According to Apple, any data accessed by its AI is never stored and used only for requests. Further, Apple is making its servers’ code accessible to “independent experts” for review. But, at the same time, the company is looking to reduce the amount of times you have to access the cloud as much as possible.

Enter the A17 Pro chip (introduced in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max) and the M-series of chips (used in iPads and Macs starting from 2020). Devices with these chips all have access to neural engines that Apple says will allow them to complete “many” requests on-device, without your information ever leaving your phone.

How exactly the split between on-device and on-cloud tasks will be handled is still up in the air, but Apple says that Apple Intelligence itself will be able to determine which requests your device is powerful enough to handle on its own and which will need help from servers before it decides where to send them.

While that’s still a promise, this would be a huge win for Apple, with competing features like Magic Editor and Gemini still requiring constant internet connections.

When can I try Apple Intelligence?

Apple didn’t give any specific dates on when Apple Intelligence will go live, instead giving viewers two windows to look forward to.

First, the company said Apple Intelligence will be “available to try out in U.S. English this summer,” although given what it said next, that’s likely to be a limited demo.

That’s because the full beta of Apple Intelligence is set for this fall, meaning it’ll likely come after the full releases of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 via an update.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle Apple has to overcome with its AI, beyond making good on its security promises and ensuring its content generation doesn’t ruffle any feathers, is availability. While the promise of having most AI on-device is great for privacy and even for situations where internet connectivity is limited, it does have a caveat: Apple’s announcement for its AI only mentions it coming to iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad or Macs with an M1 chip or later. Similarly, Siri and device language must be set to U.S. English to begin.





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Suspect charged in shooting of Philadelphia police officer who remains ‘on life support’

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A 36-year-old man was charged with attempted murder in connection with a traffic stop shooting that left a Philadelphia police officer fighting for his life, authorities said.

Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez was charged with two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault, evading arrest, home invasion and other related charges.

The shooting happened around 8 p.m. Saturday in the city’s Kensington neighborhood.

The 31-year-old officer and his partner conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with four individuals inside, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel told reporters outside Temple University Hospital late Saturday.

SHERIFF’S DEPUTY SHOT TO DEATH IN ‘AMBUSH’ WHILE TRACKING STOLEN SUV IN DETROIT

police at scene

The 31-year-old officer was shot in the neck around 8 p.m. Saturday during a traffic stop. (FOX29 Philadelphia WTXF)

While the officers were taking inventory of the vehicle, they spotted someone with a gun holster, Bethel said. 

One man fled and fired three shots at the officers, Bethel said. One officer was struck in the neck, while the other officer returned fire. 

Philadelphia police officer shot

City officials asked the public to pray for the officer. (WPVI)

The wounded officer’s partner drove him to the hospital, where he remained in critical condition. 

POLICE OFFICERS DRIVEN OUT BY PROGRESSIVE TREATMENT OFFER NEXT-GENERATION LAW ENFORCEMENT A BLUNT WARNING

Mayor Cherelle Parker said that the officer was “on life support. On a breathing machine. Fighting for his life.”

individual in custody

Police were seen with an unidentified individual who appeared to be in custody. (WPVI)

“As your mayor, it is not lost on me that on today a husband, a father and a son met his partner and went to work to do a job that he’s been doing for about six and a half years,” Parker told reporters. “He didn’t expect that he would be in a fight for his life right now.”

Vazquez was taken into custody following two barricade situations. All other individuals inside the car at the time of the shooting were also taken into custody, police said.

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Officials have yet to publicly name the wounded officer.



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I almost died trying to get salt from the sea

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By Angie BrownBBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

Darren Peattie Darren PeattieDarren Peattie

Darren Peattie put everything into his dream of building a sea salt company

When Darren Peattie decided to revive the 200-year-old salt harvesting industry in a Fife coastal village he was “absolutely terrified of failing”.

The father-of-two had bought £300,000 worth of equipment including a huge salt pan and hired a factory in the quaint East Neuk village of St Monans.

The 41-year-old had put everything into his dream, working all hours and sleeping in his factory to keep an eye on all the dials and gauges monitoring pressure and brine levels.

But Darren’s punishing work schedule and the conditions in the factory took a terrible toll on his health.

After months of surviving on 20-minute power naps on the factory floor his heart started palpitating wildly, he felt out of breath and dizzy.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance where they told him he had developed a heart condition called atrial fibrillation – an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm.

Darren was told that the constant 45C heat of the factory and the extremely salty air was damaging his heart but after being given three bags intravenous fluids he returned to work.

The extreme heat and the salt in the atmosphere meant Darren continued to be dehydrated – suffering more episodes where his heart “was going bonkers”.

The second time he was taken to hospital the doctor took his bloods and said: “It’s like you have been in the desert for a month.”

Darren Peattie Darren PeattieDarren Peattie

Darren Peattie spent £300,000 on equipment to start The East Neuk Salt Company

Darren was given three more bags of fluids, which put his heart into its normal rhythm.

“He let me go but I didn’t learn and I kept on working and sleeping in the factory,” he said.

He was rushed to hospital for a third time.

“I was dizzy and breathless and I thought I was going to die,” he said.

“I thought ‘this is it but I have a big order to get out of bespoke whisky sea salt’.

“I had a company expecting a big American order so I got to the hospital and said ‘It’s ok just give me the fluids and I’ll be out of your hair’.

“She took my bloods and said ‘Right, we will start with seven bags of fluids’.”

‘Worst pain ever’

After 12 hours his heart was still beating rapidly.

Darren said he was given a drug that works directly on the heart tissue to slow the nerve impulses and keep his heart rhythm normal.

“It’s the worst pain ever,” he said. “All my veins went black and then the next thing I was out cold. It jump-starts you, basically.

“I finally went back into a normal rhythm and I said ‘right, I need to get back because I have work to do’.

“The cardiologist took me aside and said ‘Do you realise how lucky you are? You should not be walking out of here’.”

Darren is now on a daily does of a drug to treat serious – possibly fatal – irregular heartbeats.

Surgeons are planning to operate to give him a catheter ablation – a procedure involving guiding a tube into the heart to destroy small areas of tissue that may be causing an abnormal heartbeat.

“The doctor said the dehydration has adjusted the structure of the electrical signals in my heart,” he said.

“That’s because I slept in the factory, which was boiling and breathing in salty air.

“I would wake up in the mornings and I would feel like I was in the desert and I would rush straight to the tap to get water down me.”

Darren Peattie Darren PeattieDarren Peattie

Darren Peattie takes 6,000 litres of sea water and evaporates it – leaving salt crystals behind

Ruth Goss, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said severe dehydration could cause heart and circulatory system problems.

“When you are dehydrated, there is less blood travelling around the body,” she said.

“This can lead to low blood pressure, dizziness and fainting.

“In response, the heart may start beating faster to help move blood around the body and this can lead to palpitations.

“Dehydration can also thicken the blood, increasing the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

“At the same time, high temperatures mean that your body has to work harder to keep its core temperature to normal levels, and this puts extra strain on your heart, lungs and kidneys.”

Bill Bruce Darren PeattieBill Bruce

Darren Peattie has stopped sleeping in his factory in East Neuk in Fife

Mr Peattie said the pressure of running a salt factory on his own had caused him to become a workaholic.

Now, although he still works seven days a week and never goes on holiday, he only does emails during the night, which he can do from his house.

“When you take on something like this, when you know it’s come out of an idea and ends up reality, you don’t want to fail so you have got to slog your guts out,” he said.

“This salt company has been a massive struggle, it’s nearly swallowed me up financially twice.

“The average person would not have done what I have done.

“But I’ve done it and I’ve got to live with it and I’ve got to make sure it’s a success.

“That’s my driver, I’m absolutely terrified of failure.”

Two years on since launch, his East Neuk Salt Company is producing up to six tonnes of salt a month and distributing it around the world.

He collects 6,000 litres of salt water from the Firth of Forth and uses the distilled water which is the by-product to make mineral water.

Darren said: “My wife would come into the factory and say ‘You’re going to kill yourself’ or ‘this is getting out of hand’.

“But I think she is the only one who understands me and now she leaves me to it.”



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Gunmen Attack Synagogues and Churches in Russian Republic

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Gunmen attacked synagogues and churches in two cities in southern Russia on Sunday, killing multiple police officers and a priest, in an apparently coordinated assault that underscored Russia’s vulnerability to extremist violence.

Officials said six of the gunmen were killed after shootouts in the two cities, Makhachkala and Derbent, in the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea. Wielding rifles and Molotov cocktails, they attacked a synagogue and a church in each of the two cities, according to the authorities and religious organizations.

Sergei Melikov, Dagestan’s governor, described the attack as the latest assault “on our fraternity, on our multiethnic unity.”

The precise death toll was not immediately clear. Mr. Melikov said that “more than 15 police officers fell victim to today’s terrorist attack,” without specifying how many of them were killed and how many were wounded.

The motives and identities of the gunmen were also unclear, and there was no claim of responsibility for the attack. Russia’s Investigative Committee, an analogue to the F.B.I., said it had begun a terrorism investigation.

The attack was the latest outburst of apparent extremist violence inside Russia as the country fights its war against neighboring Ukraine. Four gunmen killed 145 people at a Moscow concert hall in March in an attack for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. And in Dagestan last October, an antisemitic mob stormed a plane arriving from Tel Aviv.

In Derbent, the attackers set fire to a synagogue after shooting and killing the police officers who were guarding it, the Russian Jewish Congress said. They also killed a priest, Nikolai Kotelnikov, according to a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The priest was the only confirmed victim of Sunday’s attack who was not a law-enforcement officer, although Mr. Melikov said “several” civilians had been killed.

At about the same time, early Sunday evening, gunmen also opened fire on a traffic police post in Makhachkala, according to state media reports. The attackers’ targets also included Makhachkala’s Cathedral of the Assumption, according to state media reports, and a synagogue, according to the Russian Jewish Congress.

Videos posted by Dagestan’s interior ministry showed gunmen on the loose in the city of Makhachkala, opening fire and forcing people out of their cars. At one point, police said roads leading out of the city were blocked. It remained unclear late Sunday whether any gunmen remained at large, though Mr. Melikov said the “active phase” of the police response was over.

The mayhem highlighted the long-running ethnic and religious tensions in Russia, particularly in the country’s southern Caucasus region, which includes Dagestan. Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said it was “no coincidence” that the attack took place on the day Orthodox Christians observe Pentecost.

“We see that the enemy is not giving up on attempts to destroy interreligious peace and harmony within our society,” Kirill said in a statement.

Left unsaid was who, exactly, the enemy was. There was no comment from the Kremlin and the authorities said little about the identities of the attackers, though some state media reports said some of the gunmen may have been sons of a local official.

After the March shooting at a Moscow concert hall — Russia’s deadliest terrorist attack in 20 years — Russian officials repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine and the West were behind the violence, even though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for it.

On Sunday, some Russian politicians also pointed a finger at the West, without evidence. Leonid Slutsky, a senior lawmaker, claimed that the attacks had “the aim of sowing panic and dividing the people of Russia” and that “the blood of the victims” was also on the hands of the United States.

The attacks were the latest incident to rattle Russia’s Jewish community, which has faced increased threats since the beginning of the war in Gaza, according to community leaders. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was in contact with Jewish community leaders in Dagestan, and that there were no known casualties among that community.



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