The (Near) Future of the Mac

of course it's AI-powered.

Welcome back! 🍎
Here’s what’s new with Apple.

  • We’ll see the future of the Mac later this year

  • Apple’s new AI system might be the best yet

  • Apple TV with a camera?

  • & more!

📖 Read time: 3.8 minutes

📊 Poll

Last week, I asked: Would you buy an Apple Robot that followed you around the house?

Here are some of my favorite replies:

Yes - “As long as I can say "Don't follow me in the bathroom", I will be fine buying it as long as it has a purpose (Like doing my laundry or something). When I was younger, I wanted Apple to make the iMom to do laundry and cook for you, and the iDad would watch football or something.”

No - “That would be creepy. That being said, if there’s any tech company that I would trust, it would be Apple. Unless the DOJ forces Apple to open up their Ecosystem and the platforms become just as untrustworthy as Google and other data-collectors.”

No - “It’s already enough with my two dogs following me all over; don’t need something else doing it”

This week: Do you own an Apple TV? Would having a built-in camera make it more useful? More on this later.

Do you use an Apple TV?

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🗞️ The Latest

💻 The Future of the Mac

9to5Mac

Forget M3, the M4 chip is on the way and Apple plans to equip every Mac in the lineup with it.

  • Even though Apple just launched its first MacBook Pro with M3 in November, they are “nearing production” of the M4-equipped machines.

  • M4 will be focused on AI-processing capabilities.

  • There will be at least 3 variants of the M4 chip. Think M4, M4 Pro, M4 Ultra.

  • For the highest-end Desktop Mac, Apple might increase the RAM ceiling from 192GB to 512GB.

  • No word on increasing the base 256GB SSD or 8GB RAM, though.

  • The Macs will start arriving as early as Q4 of this year, with the rest coming in early 2025.

Apple is aiming to release the updated computers beginning late this year and extending into early next year. There will be new iMacs, a low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro, high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and Mac minis — all with M4 chips. But the company’s plans could change.

Apple is then planning to follow up with more M4 Macs throughout 2025. That includes updates to the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air by the spring, the Mac Studio around the middle of the year, and the Mac Pro later in 2025.

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

While we don’t know exactly what Apple has planned for the “AI-processing capabilities” on macOS, we should learn a lot more come WWDC in June!

🤖 Another New Apple AI System

Getty Images/Yuuji

Another week, another new research paper from Apple showcasing their latest AI advancements. This one might be the best yet.

  • Ferret-UI is the new multimodal large language model (MLLM) capable of understanding user interface screens.

  • MLLMs differ from standard LLMs since they go beyond text. They can understand multimodal elements such as images, video, and audio.

  • This Ferret-UI MLLM is trained to recognize the different elements of a user's home screen, such as app icons and small text.

  • Apple researchers compared Ferret-UI to GPT-4V (OpenAI's MLLM) in public benchmarks and it "excels not only beyond most open-source UI MLLMs, but also surpasses GPT-4V on all the elementary UI tasks.”

Ferret-UI tasks

Ferret-UI is able to perform referring tasks (e.g., widget classification, icon recognition, OCR) with flexible input formats (point, box, scribble) and grounding tasks (e.g., find widget, find icon, find text, widget listing) on mobile UI screens.

These elementary tasks equip the model with rich visual and spatial knowledge, enabling it to distinguish UI types at both coarse and fine levels, such as between various icons or text elements. This foundational knowledge is crucial for performing more advanced tasks.

Specifically, Ferret-UI is able to not only discuss visual elements in detailed description and perception conversation, but also propose goal-oriented actions in interaction conversation and deduce the overall function of the screen via function inference.

The paper doesn’t specify what Apple plans to do with this model or when they plan to implement it, but this is exciting to see! Especially since this is not just another standard LLM.

AI-Powered Safari

We also just got word about some potential new Safari features coming in iOS 18.

  • According to backend code on Apple's server, iOS 18 might add a new AI-powered browsing assistant for Safari.

  • An “Encrypted Visual Search” feature was also discovered in the code. This could be an upgraded version of the existing Visual Look Up feature.

🕹️ Emulators are Back!

Game emulators have always been one of the top reasons to jailbreak your iPhone or download 3rd party App Stores. But soon, that will be a thing of the past!

  • That’s because Apple announced that game emulators will be allowed on the App Store globally!

  • However, Apple warns that developers are responsible for all software offered in their emulator apps. This means no pirated games and no copyright-infringing titles.

  • It’ll be interesting to see if devs can get games like Pokémon on their emulator apps without copyright issues.

  • The App Store will also allow apps to offer HTML5 mini apps and mini games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins.

  • In addition, music streaming apps like Spotify are now permitted to include a link or “buy” button that leads to an external website with information about alternative music purchasing options (in the EU).

🦾 Apple TV with a.. Camera?

Last year, Apple brought FaceTime to the Apple TV by utilizing the iPhone’s camera. But in the future, you might not need a phone at all.

  • A future Apple TV box could have a built-in camera for FaceTime and other video calling apps.

  • This Apple TV would also support gesture-based controls and work seamlessly with both the iPhone and Vision Pro.

  • Apple has also considered a lightweight smart display that could be used around the house. Think low-end iPad that could be “shuttled from room to room as needed and hooked into charging hubs stationed around the house.”

📰 Quick News Bites

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