Apple is working on ‘Apple Neural Engine,’ a dedicated chip to power AI directly on devices

“Apple Inc. got an early start in artificial intelligence software with the 2011 introduction of Siri, a tool that lets users operate their smartphones with voice commands,” Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg. “Now the electronics giant is bringing artificial intelligence to chips.”

“The chip, known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, would improve the way the company’s devices handle tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence — such as facial recognition and speech recognition, said the person, who requested anonymity discussing a product that hasn’t been made public,” Gurman reports. “An AI-enabled processor would help Cupertino, California-based Apple integrate more advanced capabilities into devices, particularly cars that drive themselves and gadgets that run augmented reality.”

“Apple devices currently handle complex artificial intelligence processes with two different chips: the main processor and the graphics chip. The new chip would let Apple offload those tasks onto a dedicated module designed specifically for demanding artificial intelligence processing, allowing Apple to improve battery performance,” Gurman reports. “The Apple AI chip is designed to make significant improvements to Apple’s hardware over time, and the company plans to eventually integrate the chip into many of its devices… Apple has tested prototypes of future iPhones with the chip, the person said, adding that it’s unclear if the component will be ready this year.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: With Google’s work on its own tensor processing unit (TPU) chip already known, it’s to be expected that Apple would be working their own chip dedicated to machine learning. It’s also logical given Apple’s desire to own the core technologies in their products:

I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004

• In order to build the best products, you have to own the primary technologies. Steve felt that if Apple could do that — make great products and great tools for people — they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015

Apple should already have made Voice Control active when there is no network connection without disabling Siri and built out Voice Control to handle more tasks than it current can.

If you live in an area with poor cell coverage, you know all to well valuable an offline-capable Siri would be.

Even though Voice Control was later replaced by Siri, it’s still available in iOS. With iOS 10.2 or later, you can prevent Voice Control or Siri from responding when you press and hold the Home button on your device. Follow these steps:

1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Home Button.
2. Under Press and Hold to Speak, select one of these options:
– Siri: Siri will respond when you press the Home button.
– Voice Control: Classic Voice Control will respond when you press and hold the Home button. This will also turn off Siri.
– Off: There will be no response when you press and hold the Home button. This will also turn off Voice Control and Siri.

Note: Voice Control only works when Siri is disabled.

Play or pause music: Say “play music.” To pause, say “pause,” “pause music,” or “stop.” You can also say “next song” or “previous song.”

Play an album, artist, or playlist: Say “play album,” “play artist,” or “play playlist” followed by the name of the artist, album, or playlist you wish to play.

Find out more about the current song: Say “what’s playing,” “who sings this song,” or “who is this song by.”

Making voice calls: Press and hold the Home button, say “call” or “dial,” then say the name or number. You can add “at home,” “work,” or “mobile.” For example:
– “Call Steve’s mobile”
– “Call the fire department”
– “Redial that last number”

SEE ALSO:
Apple aims for more control, less cost as it accelerates in chip design – April 5, 2017
‘Hey Siri, why don’t you have an offline mode?’ – January 18, 2017
Apple’s AirPods show just how badly Siri needs an offline mode – December 23, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

7 Comments

  1. This concept seems to be a Great Leap Forward. Which CPU manufacturer was the first to add software capability to replace some of the transistors?

  2. Would be great if this could simply handle basic, offline tasks like making appointments/reminders/timers, etc. Due to apparent connection problems I get “Hold on, I’ll tap you when I’m ready” replies from Siri on my Watch often. Stuff like this should be handled without any wifi/data connection.

  3. Apple will be lost in the shuffle as Amazon’s Echo takes center stage orchestrated by the CEO god, Jeff Bezos, who seems to have a crystal ball which clearly sees the future of everything. Apple had Siri back in 2011 and did almost nothing with it. Now Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and NVidia are all forging ahead with AI at record speed.

    The visionary part of Apple seems to be gone and the best Apple can do now is play follow the leaders. I say this because if Apple is doing something internal, outsiders don’t know what’s going on. Those other companies make sure the news media knows what futuristic projects they’re working on.

    NVidia’s Tesla P100 GPU seems like a powerhouse AI engine in terms of the number of transistors. I’m sure Apple’s Neural Engine processor doesn’t even come close to that if they’re going to stick it in iPhones. NVidia’s AI GPU looks about as big as an iPhone. Of course, they may have totally different purposes but Wall Street is betting heavily on NVidia to win the AI Wars. Wall Street is betting Apple will be a dollar short and a day late with their AI hardware, as usual. Why is it Apple can’t instill confidence anymore?

    1. Wow, mag7. You seem to be going off the deep end theses days. I hope that you realize that this is only the *beginning* of AI development. Just as the iPhone was not the end of smartphones in 2007, the Echo is not the end of AI devices in 2017. Chill and get some perspective.

    2. If you believe all this, why would you spend one more second on this site — or using Apple products?

      Please enjoy the many other options. But don’t bother telling us about them. We’re not interested.

  4. Former Screen Saver and now joke Leo Laporte today was blabbing how Google was doing this and Apple was doing a “Me too!” as if Google was first by their braggadocio. This stuff has been going on a while.

  5. Look forward to progress in this area for all those involved. If Apple succeeds with the chip I wonder if it will result in a neural net ‘gap’ over time among iOS devices that incorporate it with each device developing a different neural net as they are used.

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