Your next smartphone might be more “intelligent” than anyone could have guessed. Apple is working on artificial intelligence (AI) chips for the iPhone that could increase battery life and perform tasks that currently require a human, according to an informant who wants to remain anonymous.
The chips, which are reportedly known internally as the “Apple Neural Engine” and would be integrated into all Apple devices, are specifically designed to cope with the high processing power that AI demands. Currently, Apple uses the main processor and graphics chips to deal with AI features like Siri, iPhotos’ facial recognition, and predictive typing — but, because the hardware not designed specifically for this purpose, battery life suffers.
Apple is characteristically secretive about the reports, and has declined to comment. However, we may hear more concerning the AI chip at the developer’s conference coming up in June — as we did concerning Google’s AI plans at their own conference earlier this month.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said at a press call in March that the company is planning to expand into the Augmented Reality market — this chip would be vital if this is the case.
The development of an AI chip for iPhones, iPads, and MacBook makes sense in the context of other recent Apple news, too. The company has recently purchased Lattice Data, which uses AI to structure “dark data” (data that cannot be used from an analytics standpoint). In addition, Apple’s self-driving car software, currently mounted on a Lexus, has been approved for road testing — it incorporates features like a radar, GPS, laser measuring, and computer vision.
Apple’s interest in the future of the AI industry is also reflected in the company joining the “Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society,” a multi-corporation think tank that explores the responsible implementation of the technology. Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are also partners in the project to make AI a useful tool for all humanity.