Apple has announced how it will integrate generative artificial intelligence into its iPhones, iPads and Macs, following months of speculation.

The company’s AI system, dubbed Apple Intelligence – the company has resisted using the words artificial intelligence – was announced at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in Cupertino, California on Tuesday.

Already lagging behind competitors Google, Samsung and Microsoft on the AI integration front, Apple said its tranche of AI software would still be in beta when it became available later this year, and would only be compatible with its most powerful devices.

The move is seen as further confirmation of the tech industry’s optimism about generative AI, with the often-cautious Apple joining in on the trend by also signing a deal to integrate Open AI’s popular ChatGPT chatbot into its software.

The debut of Apple Intelligence still failed to impress investors, with Apple shares dropping 2 per cent after the announcement.

Most devices miss out

Apple Intelligence would only be available on the iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPads and Macs with Apple’s M1 chip or newer, Apple said.

The new AI features will be included in iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia, which are expected to be released in September, and will only work in US English at first.

Apple has been contacted for comment as to why Apple Intelligence won't be available on less powerful devices.

The swathe of AI features being added include writing tools, AI-generated email summaries, better notification prioritisation, and audio transcription (including on phone calls).

Users will also be able to generate images and their own emoji, or use editing tools to remove unwanted people or objects from their photos — one of a series of AI features already available on Google’s Android operating system.

Apple Intelligence will run on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Images: Apple / Supplied

Siri meets ChatGPT

Apple said its upcoming software updates would see its personal assistant Siri develop better language skills, stronger integration between apps, and improved abilities to find information to help users, who will also now be able to type to Siri instead of only speaking.

Siri is also receiving ChatGPT integration, which will allow GPT-4o to help with writing, image creation, and image and document understanding.

Apple has not said if any of the major Siri upgrades will be available on devices which already have Siri but aren't compatible with Apple Intelligence.

The company said “some features, software platforms, and additional languages will come over the course of the next year”, with Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, reportedly telling WWDC attendees the company plans to integrate AI models such as Google's Gemini "in the future" as well.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Intelligence would “transform” the company’s product line.

“Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence,” he said.

“And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them.”

Apple Intelligence will be available on Macs with the M1 chip or newer. Image: Apple / Supplied

Privacy ‘a cornerstone’

Apple said many of the models which power its AI features would run entirely on a user’s device, to maintain privacy.

Complex requests needing more processing power will be sent to cloud-based servers powered by Apple’s own silicon chips, “providing a foundation that allows Apple to ensure that data is never retained or exposed”, the company said.

Apple has also encouraged independent experts to inspect the code that runs on its Private Cloud Compute servers, to verify its security claims.

Users will be asked if Siri can send their requests to ChatGPT, if Siri decides it is necessary to ask for help.

“Privacy protections are built in for users who access ChatGPT — their IP addresses are obscured, and OpenAI won’t store requests,” Apple said.

OpenAI users who connect their existing OpenAI accounts will still be subject to ChatGPT’s data-use policies, however.

As for transcription of phone calls, Apple said: "When a recording is initiated while on a call, participants are automatically notified, and once the call ends, Apple Intelligence generates a summary to help recall key points."

WWDC 2024 also saw Apple announce that it will launch its Vision Pro headset, which has been on sale in the US since February, in Australian stores from Friday, 12 July, starting at $5,999.