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Report claims Apple’s AI iPhone is at least a year away

Wednesday January 31, 2024. 06:39 PM , from Macworld UK

In case you haven’t heard, artificial intelligence is the hot trend in tech, and products with AI focus and features are making their way to market. But according to one analyst, Apple customers should not expect to see an AI iPhone until 2025.

That’s what TF International Securities’ Ming Chi-Kuo wrote in his blog on Wednesday. The often-quoted analyst who is often correct with his projections wrote, “It is expected that Apple will not launch new iPhone models with significant design changes and the more comprehensive/differentiated GenAI ecosystem/applications until 2025 at the earliest.”

For several generations, the iPhone’s chip has had a Neural Engine, which is responsible for machine learning and AI functions, so it would seem as though the iPhone is ready to go hardware-wise for AI. Kuo usually bases his forecasts on the hardware supply chain, so something about those sources tells him that Apple isn’t ready yet, but Kuo doesn’t provide details.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that the next version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 18, will be “one of the biggest iOS updates–if not the biggest–in the company’s history.” And Gurman reported last October that Apple plans to go big with generative AI this year in iOS 18 and macOS 15, spending $1 billion in research and development to bring AI to market.

However, AI is used in different ways. There’s the AI used for features such as Face ID, face recognition in Photos, several health features, and more. Then there’s generative AI, the AI that’s been in the news lately, the AI that creates content. In his October report, Gurman pointed out that generative AI execution is an issue. Running it entirely on the device means it’s fast and secure, but it makes it difficult for Apple to “update its technology and adapt to a fast-changing industry.” A cloud-based setup allows for more functionality but is slower and less secure. Perhaps this is why Kuo believes Apple won’t be ready until 2025; maybe Apple is working on hardware that provides a happy medium.

Longtime Apple users know that Apple has a history of not being first with a new technology, but providing it later in a better, improved way than the competition. Apple already isn’t the first with generative AI features, and the early implementations have been criticized for their inability to spot errors that get included in the generated content. To avoid this issue, perhaps Apple’s introduction of generative AI will be limited to iOS 18, with a larger implementation happening in 2025. At this point without greater detail, it’s complete speculation.

Whatever the reasoning for the AI delay, Kuo believes that this will “likely harm Apple’s iPhone shipment momentum and ecosystem growth affect sales of the iPhone.” Kuo said that he already sees a decline in iPhone shipments, about 15 percent year-over-year, and the decline will continue into next year, even after the iPhone 16 is released in the fall. Kuo reports that Samsung has seen a boost in demand because shoppers are interested in the AI features in its latest phones–and also, in China, there’s a demand for foldable phones with “high-end users.”

For more information about the upcoming iPhone, check out our iPhone 16 superguide.

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