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Apple is injecting iPhones with more AI to take on Google Photos

It’ll be a test of its device-only approach.

Apple SVP Craig Federighi
The Verge

Apple is giving its photos feature a big makeover. With that, it’s swinging straight at rival Google — and putting Apple’s artificial intelligence abilities to the test.

At its developers conference on Monday, Apple unveiled a set of new features to its photo storage service. With its latest iOS version, Apple will automatically tag, organize and assemble stored images using AI tech such as face recognition.

Sound familiar? It seems nearly identical to Google Photos, the automated service the search giant unveiled a year ago.

One key difference, though, is where each company pulls data. Google combs visual data from the cloud; Apple said it will tap into data from the device, which it deems a more privacy-friendly approach.

Apple didn’t say this onstage, but this may be a disadvantage. The company has invested less in AI than other tech giants. And Google’s approach gives it a wider data purview that can improve its AI and, thereby, the automated features of its photos service.

But Apple SVP Craig Federighi claimed that Apple has enough data at its fingertips to figure this out, noting that Apple uses 11 billion computations per photo.

Last month, Google said it had over 200 million monthly users for Photos, but it didn’t share how many are on iOS. Even if Apple’s AI features aren’t as mind-blowing, the company could steal some Photos users from Google simply by being the default on iPhones. It's something that might put some people in Mountain View on edge.

"With this, you can do really powerful searching on your device," Federighi said onstage.

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