Clarke & Co

Apple and Microsoft announce new product updates

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Both Apple and Microsoft have announced updates to their product lines in recent weeks. Apple unveiled updates to their iPad Air and iPod Pro lines, and Microsoft have introduced Copilot + PCs as showcased by their new Surface Pro and Laptop.


These releases by both companies appear to underline the emphasis they are putting on the potential offered by generative AI.


In Microsoft’s case this has been placed up front and centre. Copilot + PCs have been announced as the beginning of a new AI era, and this is underlined by the new processor chips being used by Microsoft in their new devices. The new devices will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon (ARM) processors that are specialised for AI rather than the Intel (x86) processors that are inside most of our current Windows machines.


ARM processors are desirable for various reasons, for instance they are more power efficient, meaning that batteries last longer, and are less expensive to manufacture. Most mobile devices run ARM processors. Microsoft have been pioneering a version of Windows that runs on ARM processors for a number of years, however other PC and laptop manufacturers have been slow to follow suit. Software companies have also been slow to update their software to run on the ARM version of Windows, which has made it difficult for many businesses to consider ARM processor loaded Windows machines.


This all looks set to change with Copilot + PCs. In addition to Microsoft’s own devices, Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung all have Copilot + PCs on the way. Intel and AMD will also be joining Qualcomm in making AI-powered processors. So, there now seems to be full support across the industry.


Copilot + PCs will work just like any other conventional computer but will also use on-device AI-powered features. These will include the ability to search using natural language, generate images locally, and improve the performance of creative apps.


Apple’s release of new iPads didn’t specifically focus on any AI features. However, it is widely thought that the new M4 processor released in the iPad Pro is set up for AI use. Apple’s annual WWDC event is being held in June and this usually details updates coming to Apple’s Mac, iPad and iPhone operating software. AI is expected to be the theme of this year’s event.


For businesses considering replacing and upgrading IT equipment in the next few months, it may pay to wait until after WWDC to be able to compare what Apple and Microsoft are offering.

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