Apple’s mobile phone lineup is a major platform for artificial intelligence (AI), Apple COO Jeff Williams said on Monday.
This is because of the company’s new A11 Bionic chip, which houses a neural engine dedicated to handling specific machine learning (ML) algorithms.
Embedded in the new iPhone lineup, the chip supports facial recognition and augmented reality (AR) features, and enables developers to create apps specifically for AI applications. By 2020, a third of smartphones shipped will natively embed AI and ML capabilities at the chipset level, according to data from Counterpoint Research.
As AI becomes more prevalent, running AI algorithms on the device, as opposed to the cloud, will be paramount to supporting the technology’s advanced capabilities. AI applications require massive data loads the cloud alone can not successfully process due to its need for a solid connection and time-consuming nature for even the smallest of tasks. Running AI algorithms on the device mollifies this issue, while also helping to increase privacy, enhance reliability, reduce latency, and ensure the efficient use of network bandwidth. The cloud, however, can complement the on-device processing of AI-related applications by helping to support the massive data processing that results from a majority of AI interface algorithms that run on the device.
Tech giants have begun catching onto this trend, and are now vying to win the AI-capable chip market as AI becomes central to smartphones.
- Apple will likely lead the AI-capable chip market with its A11 Bionic chip. In particular, facial recognition technology by Apple will act as the primary driver of quick adoption of AI in smartphones.
- Qualcomm is expected to take the spot behind Apple in terms of volume. The company, whose processors already account for 40% of Android’s mobile market, opened up a software development kit (SDK) in July for its Neural Processing Engine to help developers augment their apps to run AI algorithms on Qualcomm’s processors.
- Huawei will emerge as a strong player in the AI chip market. Last week, Huawei unveiled its latest smartphone lineup, the first to have a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) at the heart of its dedicated AI chip, the Kirin 970. The chip is expected to deliver faster processing speeds and lower power consumption, while also enabling real-time language translation, image recognition, and AR.
Advanced system-on-a-chip (SoC)-level AI capabilities will help to drive mainstream adoption of voice assistants. Although voice assistants are gaining steam, there is still work to be done to improve the technology’s dialogue systems, especially when it comes to complicated requests or advanced back-and-forth interactions. Advanced ML techniques work to heighten the value of the technology to consumers by enabling smartphones to analyze and adapt to user behavior which can, in turn, augment voice assistants’ capabilities as they are able to learn from such behaviors.
To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Apps and Platforms Briefing newsletter. Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.