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Apple Intelligence+ could be coming, and it won’t be free

Apple showing the different devices that Apple Intelligence works on at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024.

Apple Intelligence isn’t scheduled to hit iPhones, iPads, and Macs until later this summer, but the company is already reportedly planning to charge its users a monthly fee to access certain features, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

He notes that while the basic features discussed during the AI system’s reveal at WWDC 2024 will remain free to users, the company is considering eventually implementing a program along the lines of “Apple Intelligence+” that could offer additional features and functionality for a monthly subscription, akin to what the company already does for iCloud.

Apple has been somewhat hamstrung by its own success as of late. Its devices last longer than ever, and even multiple release generations later remain capable of running the most recent operating systems. iOS 11, for example, will reportedly be able to use Apple Intelligence when it arrives with the release of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and MacOS Sierra.

Combined with fewer significant design changes to the devices themselves in recent and an increasingly challenging economy, the company is having increasing difficulty convincing consumers to trade in their old gear for the latest and greatest it has to offer. Thus, Apple is looking to diversify its income streams — in the form of software subscription models.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to users. Apple already disclosed that it plans to take a cut of the subscriptions charged by its upcoming AI model partners, rumored to include Anthropic and Google (as well as those in the Chinese market, though sorry, Meta, not you) so it’s not a huge departure for the company to consider dipping into users’ wallets for premium Apple Intelligence functions.

Doing so would accomplish the same basic effect that Apple is trying to do with its growing stable of AI model partners. By diversifying its income streams, just as with recruiting multiple AI partners, Apple gives itself wiggle room to pivot should the need arise and, in this case, lessen the company’s reliance on convincing folks to buy new $1,400 smartphones every 18 months.

That’s not to say the company won’t still provide its users with incentives to trade up to the latest generation of hardware. As Gurman points out, while seven-year-old Macs will still be able to run the upcoming macOS Sierra, other features like Game Mode and iPhone Mirroring still need the newer hardware.

What’s more, the company has already disclosed that your Mac will need an M1 processor or newer in order to access the new AI features. There’s obviously no word yet on what precise form the potential subscription model could take, what it would offer, or how much it could cost.

Andrew Tarantola
Andrew has spent more than a decade reporting on emerging technologies ranging from robotics and machine learning to space…
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