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Apple Says It Won’t Ship Apple Intelligence for EU Users in 2024

At Bloomberg, Samuel Stolton and Mark Gurman write:

Apple Inc. is withholding a raft of new technologies from hundreds of millions of consumers in the European Union, citing concerns posed by the bloc’s regulatory attempts to rein in Big Tech.

The company announced Friday that it would block the release of Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring and SharePlay Screen Sharing from users in the EU this year, because the Digital Markets Act allegedly forces it to downgrade the security of its products and services.

Apple points the finger of blame at the interoperability requirements of the Digital Markets Act. I’m spitballing here, but I could imagine the DMA requiring Apple to give EU users a choice regarding the Apple-proprietary models used by Apple Intelligence, which sounds like a technical impossibility. Apple has already promised users that they will eventually be able to swap out ChatGPT in favor of other AI chatbots.

There may be political maneuvering here as well. Apple said that Apple Intelligence features will roll out over the course of the next year and that early releases will require Siri and the device language to be set to US English. In other words, international users probably wouldn’t have gotten Apple Intelligence in 2024 anyway. By blaming the lack of desirable features like iPhone Mirroring, SharePlay Screen Sharing, and Apple Intelligence on the DMA, Apple may hope to sway public opinion in the EU against the regulations.

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Comments About Apple Says It Won’t Ship Apple Intelligence for EU Users in 2024

Notable Replies

  1. I’m a bit surprised that this Tidbits article has not yet received comments. The subject is important for anyone living in the EU, including me (despite my Chinese nickname, I’m an European living in an European country).

    How should we understand Apple’s statement from both a political and a technical point of view?

    From a political point of view, the main question is: Can the EU regulations truly lead to a major split on how people use their Macs (and iPhones, etc.) in Europe and the rest of the world?

    However, my question here is mainly technical. Let’s assume for a minute that Apple’s statement is not merely an attempt to apply pressure on the EU politicians. How could Apple “block the release of Apple Intelligence […] from users in the EU”? Would that depend on which App Store one downloads the next macOs? Or simply on whether one uses their Mac in a language different from US English?

    Adam (@ace) writes that this “political maneuvering” of behalf of Apple. I totally agree in principle, although at present there seems to be no evidence to prove it.

  2. My understanding is that there will be a switch in Settings to turn off “Apple Intelligence” if a user didn’t want it. Apple can simply make phones in the EU have the switch permanently turned off.

    While there’s no question Apple is playing politics by announcing this, there really are some technical issues around the DMA that make enabling Apple Intelligence complicated. The problem with the DMA is that the EU won’t say what, exactly, is illegal. Everything is vague and it’s up to Apple to “prove” they aren’t breaking the law, while the EU can change the law retroactively any time they like and fine Apple for not complying.

    If Apple was to enable AI, what’s to stop the EU from claiming Apple isn’t allowing competitive AI’s from accessing the system the same as Apple’s Intelligence? Just like Apple being required to allow other web browsers under the DMA, Apple could be required to allow dozens of AI’s access to your phone’s personal data. Apple wouldn’t like that as they would have no way to enforce their privacy standards. But the EU would argue Apple is being non-competitive by only supporting their own AI. By withholding AI from European iphones, Apple could force the EU to clarify just what is allowed and what isn’t. I’m not sure it’ll work – it will depend on EU citizens complaining to their governments that Apple is being treated unfairly and forcing the EU to change their mind about the rules.

  3. Apple has long been enforcing geographic feature differences. (It’s not based on your language configuration.) For example, there is a special version of iOS that complies with various Chinese laws. On a smaller scale, in Japan, there is a camera shutter sound can’t be silenced.

  4. I agree…it is political. But OTOH the EU trying to enforce their rules on the world is wrong. Apple isn’t a monopoly unless ypu talk about the iPhone o iPad or macOS market…and any of those are just crazy. The relevant market is phones or tablets or computers…and Apple users should be able to choose as they want, not as the EU wants.

    My personal thought is that Apple should force users via a settings choice to choose the App Store environment exclusively or the 3rd party market environment exclusively…they should be allowed to go back and forth but apps from only one store should be available at a time and they should put some limits on to prevent swapping store environments 4x a day. Again…the EU doesn’t get to make rules for the world.

  5. I’m sure trying to put political pressure on the EU is part of the equation, and maybe even a large part, but there are other considerations. The DMA regulations are pretty vague rather than specific, and so far Apple has had to wait for EU regulators to react to their changes to the App Store, payments processing, etc., so Apple is probably right to be cautious about adding features that work only on their platforms (e.g. iPhone Mirroring - why only iPhone to Mac? Why not mirroring to Windows computers or to a web page? Why not mirroring Android phones to Mac?), and the Apple Intelligence features are so new that Apple probably doesn’t want to commit to an external API that other solutions can use (something like Google search on iOS, or Amazon Alexa, or ChatGPT as a replacement for Siri) that it turns out doesn’t work or scale well - but once the API is there, pulling it means disabling those other potential competitors.

    I’m not sure how this will work - does Apple approach the EU and ask if these will be disallowed under DMA without opening to competition? Does the EU give a specific yes or no if they are approached, or do they just respond that Apple should add the features and the EU regulators will act after the fact? (My sense is that it is the latter rather than the former.)

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