According to a recent Bloomberg report, Apple is working on a dedicated AI (Artificial Intelligence) chip to handle tasks such as facial and speech recognition on its smartphones and tablets.
Internally referred to as Apple Neural Engine, the chip might also help enhance general performance and battery life.
The company is reportedly planning to fit the new chip in both its iPad and iPhone models in the future. It is believed to have already started testing prototypes, but right now it remains unknown whether the dedicated chip will form part of the new iPhone which will be launched during the autumn of 2017.
Rumours have circulated for some time that Apple wants to improve its AI offerings in order to compete with Amazon and Google — the current market leaders in this field. The Apple Neural Engine might also be integrated into Apple products such as AI-powered glasses and self-driving cars.
The Bloomberg report added that Apple is expected to shed more light on its Artificial Intelligence plans at the WWDC in July 2017. Google launched its latest AI technologies earlier this month, which extend not only to smartphones, but also to cars and connected speakers
Apple is, of course, no newcomer to dedicated chips. The iPhone 6S already included a dedicated M-series chip and the company also developed a dedicated chip for the iPhone 7 and AirPods.
The firm is also investing in Augmented Reality (AR), employing an AR team that consists of hundreds of engineers. Bloomberg reported in March that Mike Rockwell, who formerly ran the new technologies and hardware groups at Dolby, is leading this team. He reports directly to Dan Riccio, the man in charge of the iPad and iPhone hardware engineering groups.
The company recently acquired AR-focused firms such as FlyBy (who makes AR-camera software) and PrimeSense. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, claimed that AR is a better technology than VR.