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Apple just made a big AI announcement. Here's what to know.

Apple expected to unveil AI features
Apple expected to unveil AI features at Worldwide Developers Conference 04:29

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference is typically a springboard for the company to announce new tech features for its software programs, and not as flashy as its yearly September event to trumpet its latest iPhone rollout. But this year, the WWDC could be a make-or-break moment for the tech giant.

That's because CEO Tim Cook on Monday announced Apple's strategy for integrating artificial intelligence into its tech, an area in which Wall Street analysts say the tech giant has so far lagged behind rivals such as Microsoft and Google. 

The WWDC announcement may be "a pivotal moment in Apple's future," according to Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives, in a report issued before the conference. The announcements come at a time when Apple needs to juice up its iPhone business, with sales of the devices plunging 10% in the first three months of 2024, the steepest quarterly decline since the start of the pandemic.

"Apple is taking the right path to implement AI across its ecosystem while laying out the foundation for the company's multi-year AI strategy across the strongest installed base of 2.2 billion iOS devices over the coming years," Ives said. 

The Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off on June 10 and will run through June 14, with developers attending in person at Apple's Cupertino, California-based headquarters.

The event is geared toward developers, with Apple set to announce new iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS technology. Apple says the event is geared to helping developers create new apps and games for its devices. 

Here are some of the top announcements from WWDC. 

"Apple Intelligence"

Cook announced what the company is calling "Apple Intelligence," or its version of AI-enhanced capabilities that will expand services such as its Siri voice assistance as well as other apps. The company said it's working with OpenAI to integrate its ChatGPT access into its upcoming software releases, including iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia.

The new AI service is designed to be intuitive and personalize, as well as built with privacy in mind, Cook noted. Apple won't collect data on users as consumers rely on the new AI services to answer questions, search personal data stored on their devices or engage in other tasks, the company said.

The new AI will work across apps, tapping personal data to help users find specific information, such as photos or emails. For instance, you'll be able to ask your phone to search for photos that only include yourself and a parent. Apple's AI will also be able to suggest options for writing or rewriting emails, summarize emails that landed in your inbox and create images based on your photos that you can send as a text, among other functions.

Apple is also introducing something called "Genmoji" that will create custom emoji based on a description, such as a dinosaur on a surfboard. 

The new AI services will be "game changers," Cook said at the conference. 

New texting options — including emoji tapbacks — in Messages

Messages, Apple's texting app, is getting an overhaul. The company said it's expanding its tapbacks, which are the responses such as "?" or a thumbs up or thumbs down, that users can use in responding to messages. That will allow you to add any emoji as a text tapback. In addition, the app will let people add text formatting to their messages, including writing in bold, italics or strikethrough. 

Apple is also adding satellite service so users can send and receive texts even when they don't have wifi or cellular service. 

Shake or nod your head to answer calls on AirPods

AirPods will soon have a new feature that allows people to answer or decline calls on their AirPods by either nodding or shaking their heads. The company said this could be useful for people who receive calls in a public situation and who might not want to talk in a busy setting. 

Its AirPods Pro devices will include a service called Voice Isolation, which will screen out background noise if you call someone from a noisy location.

New organization in Photos

Apple announced a number of improvements in other apps and services, including Photos and its control center. Photos will provide new organizational frameworks, such as grouping snapshots from specific trips and allowing users to customize photo collections. 

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