Apple explains why Apple Intelligence is limited to the newest iPhone 15 Pro

Apple explains why Apple Intelligence is limited to the newest iPhone 15 Pro
Image credit — Apple

As we saw during the WWDC 2024 Keynote, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence with its new software updates for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This technology uses large language models to enhance the user experience, but it is currently only available on the latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models, while Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will also support it.

The limitation to support only on the newest iPhone model sparked some controversy. It was claimed that this was a ploy by Apple to get users to ditch their old iPhones and buy new ones in order to get the fancy new AI features. However, according to this report, based on a special WWDC episode of John Gruber's "The Talk Show," that isn't necessarily the case.

Apple's AI/machine learning head John Giannandrea explained that running large language models is computationally expensive, requiring a lot of processing power and bandwidth. He said that while it's technically possible to run these models on older devices, it would be too slow to be useful. Furthermore, Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak denied that this limitation is a scheme to sell new iPhones, pointing out that the most recent iPads and Macs also do not support Apple Intelligence.

Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi added that the company always tries to bring new features to older devices, but Apple Intelligence requires specific hardware to function properly. The iPhone 15 Pro models use the A17 Pro chip with a 16-core Neural Engine that is much faster than the A16 chip found in older models. Federighi also hinted that RAM is another factor, as all compatible devices have at least 8GB of RAM.

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Apple Intelligence limitations discussed during "The Talk Show" (discussion starts at 1:20:09)

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Thus, the fact remains that If you don't have an iPhone 15 Pro but still want Apple Intelligence, you may have to wait for the iPhone 16 series, expected to launch in the fall. However, even though Apple Intelligence is not available on older iPhones, there are still plenty of new features to look forward to in the upcoming iOS 18 update. Every iPhone that can run iOS 17 is also compatible with iOS 18, including the aging iPhone XR from 2018.

Apple Intelligence represents a significant step forward in personalized AI experiences, but its hardware requirements highlight the ongoing challenge of balancing innovation with accessibility. While the new features may not be available to everyone right away, it's clear that Apple is investing in the future of AI on its devices.

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