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Tim Cook says Apple’s AI is already watching you

Published Jun 11th, 2017 12:07PM EDT
Apple machine learning, AI
Image: Eric Risberg/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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When you talk about Silicon Valley tech giants using AI to improve an existing product, there’s a decent chance you’re thinking of Google. The recent I/O developer conference confirmed that Google thinks AI and machine learning will be all that matters in the future, and nearly every new thing it announced for Android had some kind of AI angle.

But Apple is trying to gently remind people that while it might not throw its advancements around so much, Apple’s not falling behind in the AI department.

In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to go to pains to point out non-flashy examples of Apple using AI to very quietly make its products better:

Cook ticks off a list: image recognition in our photos, for example, or the way Apple Music learns from what we have been listening to and adjusts its recommendations accordingly. Even the iPhone battery lasts longer now because the phone’s power management system uses machine learning to study our usage and adjust accordingly, he says.

Cook says the fact that the press doesn’t always give Apple credit for its AI may be due to the fact that Apple only likes to talk about the features of products it is ready to ship, while many others “sell futures.” Says Cook: “We are not going to go through things we’re going to do in 2019, ’20, ’21. It’s not because we don’t know that. It’s because we don’t want to talk about that.”

Cook’s attitude is very typically Apple. It’s the whole ethos of making things that “just work”: why tell people that an AI is fiddling with their battery life if there’s nothing they can do to affect it? Instead, Apple chooses to brag about the thing that you’ll actually notice: iPhones have consistently excellent battery life, even with smaller batteries inside than many of the Android rivals.

Apple is starting to mention its AI advancements a little more. Machine leaning was a buzzword that kept on coming up on stage at WWDC, and with Apple’s advancements into AR, it’s going to be difficult to avoid talking about AI and image recognition in the coming years.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.

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