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IBM arrives to make iOS apps smarter

Two funny men in suits of superheroes. Thin and fat people

Artificial intelligence is set to take the world by storm before too long, but Apple hasn’t really shown it is any good in this growing field. Hopefully an extended partnership with IBM can bring greater fortunes.

It shouldn’t be considered a bad move from the iLeader, as while many will point to Google or Amazon as the leaders in the AI race, IBM is no mug, despite not getting as much attention as it probably deserves. Don’t forget, Watson is a powerful AI offering which has the potential to enhance the labouring Apple AI efforts.

The partnership will see Apple and IBM more closely combine IBM Watson machine learning with Apple Core ML in an effort to make it simpler for business customers to create apps and developers to build secure, AI-powered solutions. Using Watson’s machine learning capabilities, Apple aims to enable the creation of apps that continuously learn and adapt; the more a user interacts with the app, the more powerful and accurate it becomes. It’s the digital, connected dream, which has not blossomed into reality just yet.

The first Watson service which will be available for developers will be the Watson Visual Recognition Service, a tool which has been trained to recognise what images actually are. This might prove to be a particularly interesting development as it moves apps and AI into the world of unstructured data (i.e. not text). Considering the internet and real-life is primarily make up of what should be classed as unstructured information, this opens up a huge number of opportunities for new apps and business ideas. Augmented reality is one area which could benefit from strides forward in this area.

This initiative is yet another step to bring to the two closer together in a partnership which dates back to 2014. While these might not seem like the most likely chums, it does make sense. IBM has knowledge of the enterprise world, Apple knows consumer-technology and how to capture an audience. IBM sells the apps and the intelligence components, its co-designed with the Apple team, and then Apple has the opportunity to go into the business and sell all sorts of iPhones, iPads and Macs. It works.

The announcement took place at Think 2018, IBM’s customer event, where artificial intelligence has taken centre stage over the first few days. Considering IBM is trying to shift its overall focus away from legacy technology and onto its strategic imperatives (of which AI has a very prominent role) this should surprise few, but it does just show the influence of AI, even in these early days.

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