Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development , Standards, Regulations & Compliance

Apple to Delay AI Rollout in Europe

Smartphone Giant Fingers Regulation Meant to Restrain Big Tech
Apple to Delay AI Rollout in Europe
Apple cited a regulation meant to rein in Big Tech as the reason for not rolling out artificial intelligence features for European customers this year. (Image: Shutterstock)

Apple said in a Friday statement it will delay the rollout of artificial intelligence-powered features on smartphones in Europe, citing European law meant to rein in the power of large tech companies.

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The smartphone giant said continental customers won't have access this year to Apple Intelligence - its AI-powered writing, image generation and text-to-image models for iPhone, MacOS and iPad. It said it is also halting iPhone mirroring and SharePlay screen-sharing functions, features that allow users to share their device screens with Mac computers or other users.

"Due to the regulatory uncertainties brought about by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), we do not believe that we will be able to roll out three of these features," an Apple spokesperson said. "We are concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and data security."

The Digital Markets Act imposes requirements on companies classified as "gatekeepers" - Apple is one, as is Microsoft, Google and Meta. The requirements include not combining consumer data collected from different services belonging to the same company and allowing for interoperability with third-party software.

Unveiled earlier this month, Apple Intelligence embeds OpenAI's ChatGPT into the Siri digital assistant and into writing tools. To enable the feature, Apple customers will need to give the company access to their data, such as messages, location, photos and calendar (see: ChatGPT Integration Fortifies Apple's Siri and Writing Tools).

European regulators have already used the Digital Markets Act to loosen Apple's monopoly hold on app stores by allowing European consumers to load apps from third parties and giving developers the option to process payments outside of the Apple ecosystem and its attendant fees.

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager told CNBC on Tuesday that Apple's app store changes may not have gone far enough. "We have a number of Apple issues; I find them very serious. I was very surprised that we would have such suspicions of Apple being noncompliant," she said.

The company isn't the only one to backtrack from a planned rollout of its AI products in Europe. Last week, Meta announced that it will delay its plan to train large language models using publicly shared data from European Facebook and Instagram customers. The decision from the company came after a rights group lodged complaints with 11 data regulators (see: Meta's AI Model Training Comes Under European Scrutiny).

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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