Apple announces new machine learning API to make mobile AI faster

Like the rest of the tech world, Apple wants to make AI on your mobile device as fast and powerful as possible. That’s why the company unveiled a new machine learning framework API for developers today named Core ML.

 The key benefit of Core ML will be speeding up how quickly AI tasks execute on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. This could cover everything from text analysis to face recognition, and should have an effect on a broad category of apps. It means, says Apple, that image recognition on the iPhone will be six times faster than on Google’s Pixel.

Core ML will support a number of essential machine learning tools, including all sorts of neural networks (deep, recurrent, and convolutional), as well as linear models and tree ensembles. And because this is Apple, there’s also a privacy focus too — Core ML is for on-device processing, meaning the data that developers use to improve user experience won’t leave customers’ phones and tablets.

Apple isn’t the only tech company looking to make AI work better on mobile though, and this announcement fits an industry-wide trend. Both Google and Facebook have previously announced versions of their machine learning frameworks optimized for mobile devices, and chip-maker Qualcomm has created its own software (named the Neural Processing Engine) to smooth the mobile AI experience. Machine learning — it’s not just happening in the cloud any more.