Friday, June 21, 2024

Apple Intelligence and Apple Watch - Perfect For Each Other But Not Yet

Apple intelligence will not be coming to the Apple Watch just as it will not be coming to the Apple Vision Pro. That is not only the word on the street but a stark omission from Apple's keynote video for the WWDC. It is a disappointment because Apple Intelligence and the Apple Watch are perfect for each other. And given that Apple has yet to announce the new Apple Watch for this year, I have to wonder if it is the case of Apple Intelligence not being a feature on Apple Watches this year or Apple not saying anything until the new Apple Watch is released in a few months.

The issue then becomes when Apple Intelligence will be available for the watch. And equally important is the question of whether the new 2024 watch will be powerful enough to support some form of Apple Intelligence.

One of the key requirements for Apple Intelligence seems to be the processor. It is likely that the new Apple Watches will have upgraded processors as the current one is not that big of an improvement over the one it replaced. For me, it runs Siri well enough. In some use cases, I feel it is better on my watch than on my iPhone or iPad. But to do what is asked of it in order for Apple Intelligence 

With the new Apple Watch, Apple will upgrade the SiP (System in Package) from the Series 9 to S10 with even more powerful neural engines. While the watch chips will never truly match the processing power of the iPhone, perhaps Apple only needs to give the watch a fast enough neural engine.

Another issue is the RAM. While Apple has never specifically said how much ram the watches have, there are suggestions that they top out at 2 GB. That definitely is not enough to run Apple Intelligence natively. And that could well be the bottle neck.

For the Apple Watch to run the majority of Apple Intelligence on device, it would need a lot more RAM. That is not going to happen this year or even next year. Apple will have to wait until technology catches up or figure out a way to run Apple Intelligence with even less resources available.

Where does that leave the new Apple Watches? 

Personally, I would settle for a much improves Siri. Not just one that can understand me better but capable of obtaining a wider range of results. Apple had mentioned that they too were frustrated in the limitations the current Siri has, specifically requiring users to frame questions in specific ways in order for it to understand what they are asking for. I do not expect this part to improve much. However, this is an area that Apple needs to improve for the Apple Watch. I'm hopeful that a better and faster neural engine will allow Apple the upgrade Siri to better understand the user regardless of whether the results the user is asking for will end up being processed the watch or offloaded to the cloud.

One area that Apple will focus on is going to the improvements under the hood. These are going to be ones that users may or may not see directly. Better and accurate sleep and health tracking and activity monitoring is a given. I am currently running the new WatchOS beta. One of the features I noticed for the first time, though maybe it was already on the previous WatchOS, was that after I manually paused my run and started walking, it actually pinged me to tell me that it noticed I might have resumed my running and if I want to continue recording my run. I was rather impressed by that. 

We will likely see improvements of those nature. Apple is limited by the technology and size of the Apple Watch. And the amount of technology Apple managed to cram into such a small place is already impressive. To get a full Apple Intelligence in there is impossible but if there is a strip down version of it, I will take it.

Remember that the iPhone OS was a stripped down version of the MacOS. And the WatchOS is the strip down version of iOS. I'll take the first baby steps of Apple Intelligence on the next Apple Watch any day and watch it improve in the coming years.

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