Apple Intelligence is free, but premium AI features may need a paid subscription (2024)

Before Apple unveiled Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024, I said Apple AI should generally be free to iPhone users, laying out all the reasons why Apple can’t afford to charge a subscription fee for the service. I did mention one exception that would have me gladly pay for AI access: A smarter Siri that works across devices and acts as a true assistant capable of controlling computers for me.

Apple then confirmed at WWDC that Apple Intelligence will be available for free via the iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 updates, with a big caveat on the iPhone front. You’ll need an iPhone 15 Pro/Max or later to get Apple Intelligence features. The cost of hardware was one of the reasons I cited when I said Apple Intelligence should be free.

A new report indicates that Apple is indeed looking to make money from Apple Intelligence features in the future. The path isn’t immediately clear, however. Options could include charging a subscription for some Apple Intelligence features and getting a cut of subscription revenue from third-party AI service providers like OpenAI and Google.

The details come from Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter. The Bloomberg reporter speculates that Apple Intelligence can be a source of revenue growth for Apple now that people are upgrading to new iPhones less frequently.

Software and services could help Apple compensate for the slower pace of hardware upgrades. That’s where Apple Intelligence might come in at some point in the future. Gurman says that Apple’s long-term plan is to make money from its AI products. It’s unclear how Apple will do it, however.

Gurman explains that Apple might launch an Apple Intelligence Plus subscription that includes premium AI features. The other option is getting a cut of the subscription revenue from every AI partner it brings to the iPhone:

There’s an opportunity to turn AI features and other software into paid services, but it will take time. Though Apple Intelligence will be free to start, the long-term plan is to make money off the capabilities. The company could eventually launch something like “Apple Intelligence+” — with extra features that users pay monthly fees for, just like iCloud. On top of that, Apple will get a cut of the subscription revenue from every AI partner that it brings onboard.

The report doesn’t offer details on which AI features Apple might place behind a paywall.

Also, Gurman doesn’t mention other revenue-sharing deals between Apple and AI service providers. But history has proven Apple’s ability to monetize the iPhone. The default search deal Apple has in place with Google brought Apple as much as $20 billion in revenue in 2022.

Apple Intelligence is free, but premium AI features may need a paid subscription (1)

As for the AI partners Apple is considering for chatbot service in iOS 18, we only have OpenAI’s ChatGPT for now. Access to ChatGPT will be free for the user, which is something Apple confirmed at WWDC.

Reports that followed revealed there’s no monetary agreement between Apple and OpenAI for ChatGPT at this point. Apple is “paying” OpenAI by potentially directing a large number of new users to ChatGPT. OpenAI can hope to convince some of them to pay for the Plus subscription. Any subscriptions coming from the iPhone, iPad, or Mac app might generate revenue for Apple.

Apple is also considering other chatbots. The company confirmed as much at WWDC without naming any other products.

Gurman says that Apple might announce a new partner as soon as this fall. Google’s Gemini seems like a likely addition to Apple Intelligence. Gurman expects it to happen this fall. Claude’s Anthropic is another potential ChatGPT alternative that might find its way to iOS 18.

The report mentions Meta AI as the kind of chatbot Apple doesn’t want on iPhone. It’s not just about Meta’s privacy practices that Apple has always criticized. Apple also believes that OpenAI, Google, and Anthropic offer superior products.

There’s a lot of speculation here. But it sure looks like it’ll be a while before we’ll have to consider buying an Apple Intelligence Plus subscription. Meanwhile, many people interested in Apple Intelligence, including this longtime iPhone user, will need a new iPhone this fall to run Apple’s new AI features.

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Apple Intelligence is free, but premium AI features may need a paid subscription (2024)


Apple Intelligence is free, but premium AI features may need a paid subscription? ›

Before AI features could make their way to the devices, a new report has emerged that Apple may consider offering premium subscription models to customers. It may launch "something like 'Apple Intelligence+' — with extra features that users pay monthly fees for, just like iCloud," said Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.

Does the iPhone 15 Pro Max have AI features? ›

Apple says it is going full AI with the iPhone 15, and the health tech will take center stage. There will be an AI health App, an AI-powered camera, and an AI fitness coaching service.

Does my iPhone have AI? ›

AI for the rest of us. Built into your iPhone, iPad, and Mac to help you write, express yourself, and get things done effortlessly. Draws on your personal context while setting a brand-new standard for privacy in AI.

Does Apple have an AI program? ›

Apple Intelligence will transform what users can do with our products — and what our products can do for our users,” said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. “Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user's personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence.

Does Apple use AI for photos? ›

It's no secret that the iPhone relies on advanced algorithms as well as computational photography for a large chunk of its camera features. Portrait Mode, which uses AI to identify subjects and create a bokeh effect, is just one example.

Will Apple Intelligence be free? ›

Though Apple Intelligence will be free to start, the long-term plan is to make money off the capabilities. The company could eventually launch something like “Apple Intelligence+” — with extra features that users pay monthly fees for, just like iCloud.

What is the best free AI app for iPhone? ›

The Best AI Apps for iOS Compared
Best iOS AI AppsBest forFree Version
Jasper AIWritten contentFree 7-day trial with in-app purchases
Murf AIGenerating AI voicesFree with in-app purchases
PicsartGenerating AI artFree with in-app purchases
QuillBotImproving writingFree
3 more rows
May 31, 2024

Is Siri considered AI? ›

Siri is Apple's virtual assistant for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS devices that uses voice recognition and is powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

What is the Apple iPhone AI called? ›

Siri - Apple (IN)

Which iPhones will get AI? ›

Note that only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are getting Apple Intelligence, which will remain in beta even after the full launch of iOS 18. This means no iPhone 15 and 15 Plus and certainly no older models.

What is the AI app that everyone is using? ›

As a leader in the AI space, Google Assistant is considered to be one of the most advanced virtual assistants of its kind on the market. Using natural language processing, it supports both voice and text commands, and can handle everything from internet searches to voice-activated control of other devices.

Will Apple add AI to Siri? ›

Apple is planning a big AI update for Siri, and it could give you the ability to control specific iPhone app features with your voice, according to a report from Bloomberg. The revamped Siri will reportedly arrive next year as an update to iOS 18.

What is an example of AI in Apple? ›

AI is the backbone of many of Apple's most popular features. For instance, Siri, Apple's voice assistant, leverages AI to understand and predict user needs based on voice commands. The seamless operation of Face ID, which uses real-time facial recognition to ensure security, is another example of AI at work.

Can AI tell if two photos are the same person? ›

Facial recognition software can tell you how sure it is that two photos are of the same person, but the results will be better the more photos you have where you're sure of the identity of the subject (the training group.).

Are AI photos free? ›

However, the U.S. Copyright Office currently takes the position that art created by an AI cannot be copyrighted and has no copyright owner. Therefore, it is in the public domain rather than being copyright free.

What is the AI photo thing everyone is using? ›

If you've logged on to any social media app this week, you've probably seen pictures of your friends, but re-imagined as fairy princesses, animé characters, or celestial beings. It is all because of Lensa, an app which uses artificial intelligence to render digital portraits based on photos users submit.

Will the iPhone 15 support Apple AI? ›

The iPhone 15 with the A16 chip cannot support Apple Intelligence, but M1-equipped models can. Therefore, it can be concluded that the key to supporting the current Apple Intelligence on-device model is the DRAM spec rather than computing power (TOPS).

What will be different about the iPhone 15 Pro Max? ›

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a bigger screen than the iPhone 15, along with a higher refresh rate, a more premium construction, an Action button, an extra camera lens, a bigger battery (offering longer life), a more powerful chipset, and more RAM.

Does the iPhone 14 Pro Max have AI? ›

The newly announced AI features are going to need more processing power that is currently only available in the Pro and Max versions of the iPhone 15. The iPhone 14 also has only the 5 core GPU and the iPhone 13 has a 4 core GPU. There apparently is not enough computing power in those models.

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