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Apple AI Seeks to Outshine Microsoft With New Developer Tool, As Vision Pro Stumbles

Last Updated February 16, 2024 11:23 AM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated February 16, 2024 11:23 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Apple is ramping up its AI efforts by developing a new artificial intelligence developer tool similar to Microsoft’s Copilot.
  • It also plans to launch a new iPhone with AI tools.
  • Can Apple catch up to Microsoft and Google’s established AI lead?

Apple is nearing completion of a pivotal software tool for app developers, positioning itself for increased competition with Microsoft Corp. Recent advancements in the development of the next major version of Xcode indicate accelerated progress, with plans for a third-party release later this year.

But is that enough to tackle Microsoft’s leadership in the AI sector?

Apple’s Run To AI Supremacy

Apple’s upcoming system will function similarly to Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot, leveraging artificial intelligence to predict and complete code blocks, sources told Bloomberg . This approach streamlines the programming process for software development, potentially saving both time and money.

In addition to code completion, Apple is exploring the use of AI for generating code to facilitate application testing, a typically laborious task. To ensure the efficacy of these new AI features, Cupertino’s company is internally urging some engineers to test them out – a practice known as “dogfooding” – before their release to external developers.

As part of a broader push into generative AI and large language models (LLMs), similar to those powering popular chatbots like ChatGPT, Apple plans to unveil its AI initiatives later this year, potentially in June during its annual developers conference.

Led by Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, teams are swiftly integrating new AI features into this year’s operating system updates. Federighi has entrusted his lieutenants, particularly top deputy Sebastien Marineau-Mes, to spearhead the development of AI-driven features. These advancements were showcased to the board late last year, with Marineau-Mes leading much of the presentation.

iPhone 16 Set To Be Most AI-Equipped Product

Apple is developing significant enhancements for its upcoming A18 and M4 chips, set to power future iPhones and Macs. Reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News  indicate a major upgrade to the Neural Engine, with a significant increase in cores.

This upgraded Neural Engine will boost performance in artificial intelligence and machine learning tasks. Rumors suggest iOS 18 will introduce new generative AI capabilities across Apple services like Siri, Commands, Messages, and Apple Music. During a recent earnings call , Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at the company’s focus on integrating generative artificial intelligence. He said more details would come later this year.

The Neural Engine  plays a pivotal role in Apple Silicon and A Series chips. It specifically handles machine learning computations for AI features. An updated Neural Engine would deliver improved performance crucial for enabling advanced AI features processed locally, demanding high computing power. Reports speculate that the upcoming iPhone 16’s Neural Engine will feature a “significant” increase in cores compared to the current 16 cores integrated into the latest iPhone models.

It’s unclear if this enhancement will be limited to Pro models or applied across the lineup. The Neural Engine upgrade will extend to the new Apple M4 chips. This may come by the end of this year or in early 2025. These enhancements could enhance the Mac user experience, potentially introducing new conversational AI features to Apple computers.

Is This Enough To Battle With Microsoft?

At the moment, it is difficult to say whether Apple’s belated efforts in the AI race could undermine the power of Microsoft and Google in the sector. The company led by Satya Nadella recently launched Copilot.

Copilot is a cutting-edge AI feature seamlessly integrated into the Windows operating system. Designed to enhance typing efficiency, Copilot offers real-time suggestions and completions, enabling users to type faster and more accurately. Powered by Microsoft’s extensive language model, Copilot has undergone extensive training on vast datasets of text and code. This comprehensive training equips Copilot with the ability to grasp the context of your input and provide pertinent word and phrase suggestions.

In January 2024, Yusuf Mehdi, Executive Vice President and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, unveiled  a new AI key on keyboards. This key, designed to launch Copilot, represents the first keyboard addition in three decades for the company founded by Bill Gates.

Despite Apple’s efforts, Microsoft may still be in an advantageous position. In fact, according to Bloomberg , its push into AI services “has not yet translated into a boost for sales, as the novel Copilot features are being rolled out to new and existing devices alike.” Mehdi’s promise of weaving AI into hardware and silicon may signal more pressure on consumers. They will upgrade as Microsoft evolves and improves its AI proposition.

Vision Pro Users Return Their Devices

Despite the high anticipation surrounding the Apple Vision Pro, early adopters are experiencing a wave of disappointment, resulting in an unexpected surge of returns.

An astonishing 45% of users have reportedly returned their $3,500 headsets, marking a rocky start for the product’s launch.

Although approximately 200,000 units have been sold since the release, an informal poll  conducted by news site Cult of Mac revealed that 45% of respondents intend to return the headset. Online feedback from these initial users raises concerns regarding the Vision Pro’s value, comfort, and utility.

This influx of negative feedback prompts the question of whether these issues indicate a fundamental flaw in the product or are simply typical teething problems in the adoption of XR technology.

Tech influencers have also joined the conversation, with one user advising followers to reclaim their investment, stating, ‘Get your 5 grand back.

Apple vs Microsoft Is Also A Stock Battle

The battle between the two tech giants is not only taking place in the AI world but in Wall Street too. Microsoft (MSFT)  briefly reclaimed its throne as the world’s most valuable company in January 2024, overtaking Apple (AAPL)  for the first time in three years.

This seismic shift in the tech landscape is attributed to Microsoft’s surging generative artificial intelligence (AI) business, spearheaded by its investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.

Microsoft vs Apple
Microsoft vs Apple I Source: LSEG Datastream

D.A. Davidson analyst Gil Luria said : “It was inevitable that Microsoft would overtake Apple since Microsoft is growing faster and has more to benefit from the generative AI revolution.”

While the market dominance battle among tech giants continues, Microsoft’s recent surge in value signals its proactive stance. By investing in state-of-the-art AI technologies, Microsoft is poised to strengthen its leadership in the next era of computing.

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