The Smartest Part of 'Apple Intelligence'? Doing Stuff I Don't Want To

Commentary: Apple's new "personal intelligence" tools aren't groundbreaking, but I still want them.

Katelyn Chedraoui Associate Writer
Katelyn is an associate writer with CNET covering social media and online services. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in media and journalism. You can often find her with a paperback and an iced coffee during her time off.
Katelyn Chedraoui
2 min read
apple intelligence collage of features and stats on screen
Apple/Screenshot by CNET

There's a joke I keep seeing online: A woman wishes tech companies understood that she wants an AI to scan through online grocery store deals and her empty pantry to put together a grocery list with the best deals -- not generate an image of her as an astronaut. And while I do enjoy testing various AI image generators, I understand her point: Why should I care about AI if it's not going to make my life easier?

Apparently, Apple heard this kind of complaint too, which is why when it announced its new AI features at WWDC today, it did so not with a bang but with subtle, realistic improvements to the apps and services we use every day. And I'm thrilled.

Watch this: iOS 18 Brings New Tapback Features and Text Over Satellite

One hour into the keynote presentation -- after many iOS 18 updates and a notable lack of "AI" mentions -- Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, officially introduced Apple's AI, simply named Apple Intelligence. "It goes beyond artificial intelligence. It's personal intelligence," he said.

AI Atlas art badge tag

This immediately gave me the ick, because it never goes well when tech companies try to make technology more sentient or humanlike (pick any sci-fi movie and insert here). But in this context, personal intelligence refers to the AI's enhanced ability to understand and process information. It can understand the context of it and prioritize it. For example, Apple showed off how its AI could read your calendar, check traffic on your route between meetings, and draft a message to your contacts to reschedule for another time. And that's a lot more useful for many folks than a picture of a cartoon toucan.

Other AI-powered updates include a more useful Siri, with a chatbot and enhanced contextual understanding; Messages sorting and prioritizing your texts; new Safari summaries; and a new Rewrite tool to help you write and edit your emails. None of this is groundbreaking -- Apple's competitors have been doing similar things for a while now. Or, frankly, we've just done things like editing our emails and rescheduling our meetings ourselves. But if Apple wants to use its all-powerful AI for all my menial tasks, I'm inclined to let it.