Tech 11 Jun 2024 4 MIN

Apple’s biggest flex at the WWDC 2024 wasn’t what you think it was

AI this, generative that, and one surprising app that got all the applause

Raise your hand if you were on the edge of your seat, just waiting for Apple to finally bestow upon us...a calculator app for the iPad?

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the Cupertino crew had all sorts of fancy AI bells and whistles to show off—a generative AI tool to create custom emojis, another to make pictures without needing to write prompts, and one more to solve mathematical equations directly from handwritten notes—but yes, it also got huge applause for unveiling a new calculator app.

Now, before you revoke my Apple fanboy card, I'm not trying to say that the other announcements were a snoozefest. In fact, Apple packed so much into that keynote, it felt very rushed! AI this, generative that—it was a non-stop thrill ride of futuristic features. But all of that ground to a halt in the face of a nothing-to-write-home-about app that should have been bundled into the iPad OS from day one.

All right, fine, I'll move on. Apple definitely went hard on the AI front this time around, from partnering with OpenAI to infusing every nook and cranny of their software with smart assistance. Their own three minute video is the best summary of the event because there are so many cool new features to see. We're talking AI co-pilots to smooth out your scribbled handwriting into pristine penmanship, solve headache-inducing maths riddles, whip up images on command, and even edit your photos. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but now, it will have Apple’s usual polish. 

Apple says it can now proofread your messages and make them shorter and punchier, plus generate emojis and images for you without needing you to write a prompt like other AI tools. Other cool tricks include using your AirPods as sensors so you can nod yes or no to Siri, rather than having to speak in crowded places.  

From Grammarly to ChatGPT to Midjourney, Rabbit, and Humane, the offerings of all these companies are just getting folded into iPads and iPhones at the OS level.

The bottom line is that AI is taking over as the not-so-secret sauce powering all your Apple gizmos going forward. The company is trying to sell it as a privacy-first, on-device approach—you know, as long as you've got a relatively new, incredibly powerful iPhone, iPad, or Mac. For everyone else still rocking an iPhone X, AI is off the menu?

In other news, Siri's finally getting an overdue glow-up, so it will be slightly more competent than a rudimentary chatbot. We're promised deeper app integration, better context awareness—maybe it'll finally be able to keep up and not have total meltdown when you rattle off a multi-part request. A smarter Siri that can understand what you're talking about from natural language, and pair that together with information from different apps like Maps, Calendar or Mail? It’s basically like living in the movie Her.

Now, whether Apple's making impressive strides towards a Star Trek-esque techno utopia or simply greasing the skids for a Skynet-level robopocalypse, at least we iPad users can do some slick calculator work as humanity's last output before the machines take over.